It's been almost 3 years since I wrote a diary here. That diary was a howl of pain and rage. My mother had suddenly fallen ill and I was trying to cope with the medical and emotional onslaught during a completely overwhelming situation. I poured it out in mid-crisis and haven't written here since. .
This community gave me an incredible outpouring of kindness and support. I should've written an update. I definitely owed you thanks. But I just couldn't do it. The truth is, I lost heart. My mother didn't survive that ordeal. She passed away on May 6, 2010, the day after her 66th birthday. It's taken me a long time to grieve. Even longer to have the patience and fortitude required to engage in political discussion.
I'm still not sure I'm ready. I've bumped into some politics in real life and on my morning scans of facebook, and it has not gone well...
I almost started a fight in our local post office when a guy in line sarcastically said "our tax dollars at work" because there was only one clerk. I informed him the taxpayers didn't pay for the post office and somewhat of an uproar ensued.
I also told some of those guys with the card table and the Obama-with-Hitler-moustache poster to go fuck themselves.
But the worst was the great facebook fallout of the 2010 mid-terms. When my mom was sick, a lot of my cousins friended me to get updates. But unlike life pre-facebook, relatives don't fade away after the crisis. No. There they still were posting their opinions.
Turns out, I'd known them my whole life but it wasn't till facebook I realized they were Severe Conservatives. Yes, even Tea Partiers. Real life fans of Sarah Palin and Glen Beck, right there on my friends list. Related to me! And there was me, the 'liberal' being completely intolerant!
Being a believer in persuasion rather than berating, I've been thinking perhaps I'm not entirely to be trusted. I was a bit hair-trigger when the Supreme Court decision on healthcare was looming. I couldn't watch the Republican primary debates. I was curt with acquaintances. I thought I was gonna have an aneurism if I heard one more threat to repeal Obamacare on Day One.
But I'm calmer since the election. In fact, I've been thinking a lot about gratitude. What's stunned me anew since my withdrawal from blogging and my more frequent exposure to those I don't usually get exposed to and hearing all the government bashing, isn't even how misinformed people are, but how ignorant and forgetful of their own history they are.
I myself have a fair amount of complaints about the government - there's a lot that needs to be fixed and a ton of work ahead of us. But maybe there's also something to be learned from the conservatives among us. I've noticed that they're the ones all over facebook, daily listing things they're thankful for. And it's reminded me anew what I already know - that positive action gets better results than negative.
So in that spirit, I'm expressing my thanks to my government and my fellow citizens for all the good things it's done for me and my family, and the positive effects it's had on my life.
Thanks to our government's liberal immigration policies of the era, my grandmother's family came to this country with minimal fuss in the 1920s. The grandparents of my aforementioned cousins also took advantage of these policies and moved here easily in ways that would not be legal today. Had we had the policies in place that my conservative family is currently in favor of, their grandparents would would have been stuck in the impoverished areas of Scotland they escaped. Our grandfathers would've probably remained in the coal mines and our grandmothers would've remained servants.
Thanks to our government during the Great Depression, when most of our family lost their jobs, the liberal moratorium on mortgage foreclosures allowed our family to keep a house. All the family lived in it at one time or another during those hard years, but mostly it was used as a base for the women and children to stay while the men travelled the country looking for work.
Thanks to our government, many of the men in my family were educated and trained using the liberal GI bill after World War II, allowing them to join the growing middle class and make comfortable livings. Many of them held union jobs, a right that Americans before them had struggled, fought, and sometimes died for. These jobs allowed them to own homes and send their children to college.
Thanks to our government policies here in California in the 1960s, my mother gave birth to me safely in a hospital despite being poor and having no medical insurance. She was an unwed mother but managed to get prenatal care and the hospitalization without being burdened with crushing debt or having to file for bankruptcy.
Thanks to our government, although my mother was was not a citizen, I was granted full citizenship at birth. I was not accused of being an anchor baby.
Thanks to our government, my cousins and I grew up healthy. We had plentiful clean, cheap water from sanitation facilities American taxpayers funded. We got shots against measles and mumps and polio. We never had to worry about smallpox. None of our mothers died in childbirth the way many women in our family had only two generations before.
Thanks to our government, although I was a poor, uninsured child, when I got TB it was treated at the public health department and I neither died nor became a permanent invalid. No one had to file bankruptcy or sell their home to pay for the bill.
Thanks to our government, when my mother was out of work and we were hungry, we got welfare and foodstamps and survived.
Thanks to our government, my cousins and I all got very good educations at taxpayer funded schools. Some of my cousins even took advantage of California's stellar higher education system and went to college and university. Others of my cousins have chosen to be stay-at-home mothers and thanks to our government's laws, they have myriad benefits bestowed on them including insurance, pension, and social security benefits through their husbands.
Thanks to our government's funding of Planned Parenthood, I was able to get treatment for my endometriosis and health screenings during my teenage years when things were rough and I had no other access to healthcare.
And I don't know about my cousins, but I'm especially grateful to our government for our wonderful library system, which provided me with a haven and all the books I could read, for free, throughout my childhood.
I'm thankful for all the things our government's investment in infrastructure gave us during the New Deal - our roads, bridges, dams, power plants - all the things that give us our modern conveniences. I'm also glad that during the Depression, our government realized that money is a game we play, not a natural resource, and that instead of cutting and squeezing people and ending up with some of the horrors and war that have happened to other countries in that situation, we simply dealt more people in and gave them jobs - jobs that included not only building things and making things, but creating art and putting on musicals and taking pictures.
I'm grateful that Obama became President when we were in peril of another Great Depression, and that he has pushed stimulus rather than austerity measures. I'm thankful that all the foreclosure signs that were all over my neighborhood in 2008 and 2009 have disappeared. I'm very thankful that my son has been working, serving a union apprenticeship, after two hard years of unemployment.
I'm thankful that in my lifetime, my country has made strides towards overcoming what seemed like insurmountable obstacles in my youth - we have elected our first African American President. We have more women in the Congress and in the Courts. My gay friends are making strides towards equality. They don't live in fear of arrest or casual firing. They can openly serve their country. Some can get married.
I'm thankful that on March 23, 2010, I was able to relieve my mother of one of her biggest worries and tell her the healthcare bill had been signed. And I'm enormously thankful this year that we re-elected President Obama to continue the work that needs doing. I'm thankful that the healthcare act won't be repealed on 'day one' of a new administration. I'm grateful that Planned Parenthood won't be defunded and that if there are openings on the Supreme Court, they won't filled with people who want to take away our rights rather than expand them.
And I'd also like to thank you - whoever in the world happens to read this on this wonderful thing called the internet, developed with government funding and research - for giving me an outlet for my ramblings.
Now, just maybe, I'll be able to shut up behave myself during Thanksgiving dinner.