Making No Difference

Over-sentimentality is no substitute for a properly governed welfare state. If you listen to many Americans, though, and if you’re not careful to hang on to your thought processes, you’ll come to believe it is.

They certainly do.

It’s all about this thing they call ‘neighborliness’.

Listen to them talk, and it’s as though no-one else in the world ever does a favor for their neighbor. In America, life revolves around good deeds and everyone looking after everyone else. So there’s no need of a welfare state.

Is there?

The truth, of course, is somewhat different. It’s all just a load of gross over-sentimentality carefully designed to persuade the average Joe American that if he falls on hard times – which he’s not going to do because the ‘American Dream’ won’t allow it – but if he does, his neighbors will rally round and support him till things get better.

A friend of mine, who drives for another school bus company, has to endure this gushing sentimentalism while he’s out on the road. Three or four times a day the radio operator in the office is required to transmit a little gem designed to make their drivers feel good. Today, it was about keeping a watch on the neighbors to ensure they’re alive and healthy: “Our neighbors truly rely on us…” was the finale to this trite and somewhat nauseating nonsense.

My neighbor doesn’t. He’s got a rottweiler in the yard and a case of loaded guns on his living room wall. He really doesn’t need me to watch out for him. He’s more likely to accidentally blow my head off, if I approach too close.

Americans love to believe they’re being neighborly, when all they’re achieving is the satiation of their overly-swollen egos. Take the case of the young lady shot in a Pittsburgh gymnasium recently.[1]

She had no health insurance because she couldn’t afford it. Consequently, by the time the local hospital had repaired her wounds she was tens of thousands of dollars in debt to them. Still, the locals all rallied round. They organized a car wash for the weekend and made $500, which was magnanimously presented to her, accompanied by their self-satisfied smirks. And, they got themselves on TV for being “good neighbors”.

Well done, guys! Only another fifty car wash weekends and she can pay off the hospital bill.

This is what Oklahoma senator Tom Coburn meant when he stated at one town hall meeting recently, “……what’s missing in this [healthcare reform] debate is us as neighbors, helping people who need our help.” [2]

The statement got him a round of applause from the floor, proof if it were needed that the many Americans supporting the doctrine have never spent so much as a single minute attempting to think through the implications of Coburn’s irresponsible remarks. All that concerns them is that the rhetoric should make them feel good. Such comments assuage the ego, but are of no practical value whatever to society.

And that’s all Americans want – to feel good about themselves. It’s what they’ve been taught for generations.

The real truth is their country is rotten to the core. It’s riddled with avarice, selfishness, and a malicious contempt for others. If it were not, healthcare wouldn’t be an issue today. Instead, a welfare system would have been constructed years ago, of which this nation could be proud.

I wonder what sanctimonious gem will assail the ears of my friend, as he drives his school bus tomorrow?

[1] “Three shot dead by US gym gunman” BBC, August 5th 2009

[2] “I’m Just Nipping Across The Road To Take Out My Neighbor’s Appendix” Sparrow Chat, August 25th 2009

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7 Replies to “Making No Difference”

  1. As I read, RJA, I was thinking of those old Hollywood movies, the ones that brainwashed Americans and lulled them into this way of thinking which is so far from the truth as to be absurd. Those trite little mottoes continue the fantasy.
    How did the word welfare become so corrupted?
    “Faring well” should be a right, not a privilege, and universal health care is an intrinsic and essential component of ‘faring well’.

  2. It’s so difficult for newcomers to the USA like thee and me to get a grip on the scene as it is now. I wish I had a time machine and could travel back five or six decades (or more) and trace the growth of what you describe – which is as I see things too.

    We haven’t encountered neighbourliness in any form at all since we moved to this house. I put it down to the fact that we don’t go to church, so we are looked on as some sort of savages. LOL! Takes one to know one!

    What you describe is one of many myths imprinted into young minds, I guess. Norman Rockwell, wonderful illustrator that he was, did a lot to fuel the myths in the ’50s. But back then, perhaps the myths were actually closer to fact – I don’t know. Things have changed in the UK too, I guess. I don’t think neighbours there are as helpful to one another as they used to be.

    But the idea that neighbourliness should compensate for lack of proper health care provision is obscene!

  3. WWW – brainwashing has been an intrinsic part of polito/religious policy in America for many years. It’s hard to know when it started, but Hollywood was certainly used as a effective tool, closely followed by television. The American Dream only allows for a small percentage to “Fare well”. The rest have to manage as best they can.

    Twilight – the church has much to answer for. It’s been transformed into an elite club. If you spurn membership then you’re the Devil’s spawn – especially in the Heartlands, or “Bible Belt”.

    Jonathan -let me comment on your first question, then I’ll move on to your later comment:

    One has, I believe, to take account of the insularity of Americans. Europe has been a melting pot for many thousands of years, but America never looked back across the ocean. From its inception, America has done things its own way and consequently failed to learn from the mistakes Europe made throughout its long history.

    Certainly, the traits I describe in my post are common to all mankind. Americans are an integral part of the species, despite some who consider themselves vastly superior. It’s not their fault. They’re fed the indoctrination along with the baby milk. That at least some manage to mature and think for themselves is surely tribute to the tenacity of the human mind.

    Which brings me to your second comment, and an invitation to participate in the religious debate presently raging on your own blog.

    I regret I must decline the invitation. There was a time I would have jumped in with both feet, but I have learned over the years that, while the human mind is indeed tenacious in its search for truth, the power of promised immortality, coupled with the wisdom-proof dogma of ‘faith’, is so totally appealing to the Ego that logic and reason are imprisoned behind an egotistical shield with the ability to counter any argument put forward by reasonable thought.

    It was Francis Xavier who coined the phrase, “Give me a child till seven and I will give you the man,” – later to become the motto of the Jesuits. He wasn’t wrong. American church schools (of which there are far, far, more than in Europe) take children from the age of three. At that age, it’s still years before they stop believing in Santa Claus. Adding numerous other fictitious, magical, characters to the mix is easy, given such malleable little minds.

    Francis Xavier is a good example of the twisting of minds. He, of course, became known as St Francis Xavier, but he was somewhat less than a saint on earth. He was responsible for the Goa Inquisition, which procured its converts by torturing them on the rack. In Japan, he ran amok, destroying non-Christian temples and shrines. Here’s what Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) said of Francis Xavier, and his fellow saint, Ignatius Loyola:

    “not only their history which was interwoven for many years from Paris and Rome, but a unique desire — a unique passion, it could be said — moved and sustained them through different human events: the passion to give to God-Trinity a glory always greater and to work for the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ to the peoples who had been ignored.”

    No mention of the tortured and broken, left in Xavier’s saintly wake.

    Pure religion, or at least the Christian form, is virtually dead in this country. In its place has risen a religio/political stew deftly utilized by the rich and politically powerful to meld certain sections of the populace to their will, and help achieve goals otherwise unobtainable through normal political channels.

    Never has this been more obvious than the combining of certain aspects of the church, media, and Republican movement, to thwart the birth of a healthcare system for all in this country. If there was ever a more unholy alliance calling itself Christian, when their founder championed the poor and healed the sick (without ever sending them a bill), it’s hard to find one outside of the Spanish Inquisition.

    Nevertheless, most on the “Christian right” support it wholeheartedly.

    Given that fact, it becomes obvious these people are not open to persuasion. Their minds are as robotic as their actions. They do as they’re told, without thought or question.

    It is for that reason I will respectfully decline your invitation.

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