I have come to realize that I live in not one but rather in two highly disparate but parallel worlds.
And not just me, but everyone else too.
The first of those worlds is the America of the Logos. The spoken America. The country defined in words and by words and taught to us in the history books and in the media.
In this America, honor has value, honesty is the rule, men and women are equal and there is also racial equality and gender tolerance.
In the Logoic America, people are free, have rights despite their race, creed, or color and have all the same economic chances; and all receive the same medical care.
There are laws to prevent discrimination, to protect one in the workplace, to see to it that one is not endangered in one’s daily activities. Policemen are there to help you if you get lost or if you need to no the rules in a certain business or area.
It is against the law to give fewer shifts to the older waiter and more to the blond tween-ager with the large breasts. It is illegal to refuse someone medical care who needs it.
And people who promise to be your friends thus enter a covenant of mutual protection. Family even more so.
Manners prevail. People interact socially and emotionally with no one have a lesser chance at happiness than anyone else.
Everyone is entitled to equal work for equal pay.
It is the America of American Dreams.
And then there is the real America.
In the real America, there are any number of unspoken actual rules.
- It is okay to discriminate against people as long as you call it something else. You can fire the old waiter “because you are concerned for his health.” You are doing him a favor. You can fire the Jewish guy if you can get someone to say that he in “violating company quality policies”. You can shoot the Black teen because all the experts will tell you that people of his color are “naturally more aggressive.” Short people and ugly people should just deal with it. There is no prejudice against them – except that they are “detrimental to the company image”.
- Everyone has equal access to health care – as long as they can afford it. If they can’t pay the costs then oh well. Their fault. They should have worked harder, or been smarter, or played by the rules. If they had a “pre-existing” or have a “chronic” condition, well insurance was never designed to cover those issues.
- Everyone is equal in the eyes of the law – as long as they are influential, connected, powerful, rich, of the right color, and can pass the security barriers to get into the courthouse by way of the front door.
- “I’d love to be your friend” does not mean that you are making any commitment to that person. After all the seminars tell us to remember that “We come first” and that everyone “Should learn how to say ‘no’ to the problem people in their lives. Conflicts and struggle could stress you out and that lowers your productivity.
- Efficiency, power, connections and usefulness are the scales that any potential friendship should be judged upon. When the person begins to “encroach on your resources” you should dump them.
- It is perfectly okay to lie to avoid conflict. Transparency is all, honesty is negotiable. In the interests of safety it is best to trust no one. And if someone is doing something wrong or dangerous, keep your mouth shut. It is none of your business, no one likes a squealer, and it’s best “if you don’t get involved”.
- There is a group called OSHA that protects workers rights – if you can pay, and if your problem does not need solving in a few decades.
- We are a “green” and environmental friendly country that drives 14 miles to a gallon aluminum bodies monster pickups one block to the store…
- because although we live in a safe and free country it is best not to go for a walk in most neighborhoods.
- We want our children to grow up and succeed as long as they are always under our control and don’t embarrass us.
- And we encourage risk takers – by minimizing all the possible risks, and creating laws that make the risks negligible.
- Police departments are private “us-against-them” clubs and they are all definitely way better than the civilians they are supposed to “ride herd over” (actual quote from an officer). You dare not ask them for directions least they be rude at best and beat you to powder at worst.
So who am I then?
Just your average American Schizoid…
- An unemployable person with no income and an IQ in the 140s.
- Two treatable diseases that are terminal if untreated who can’t afford to treat them.
- A short person by American standards – 5’0
- An ugly person by American standards – bad teeth (no money), facial warts, brunette
- A person with no insurance – preexisting condition, chronic illness, no money
- A person who lives on less than $600 a month
- A Hispanic in a largely White world
- A female in a male patriarchy
- A Taoist in a Baptist Brotherhood area
- An autist in a neurotypical world
- A person who is gender neutral in a very gender specific culture
- An anarchist (original meaning) in a Republican enclave
- A liberal in a conservative bastion area
- A person who receives the bare minimum in government aid and who has been refused both government aid and legitimate jobs because “[I’m} not what we’re looking for”, “[I] don’t really match the corporate image”. And so on…
a person who has to smile and get up and go out into the world and be polite and friendly and smile some more at every one and say “I’m fine.” and “Sure, I’d be glad to help you.” and “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that the satellite reception on your yacht was bad again today.”
I am a person who is supposed to be happy, who is not supposed to burden my friends with another downer tale, who is supposed to express concern about the latest football game.
Because I must not break the rules.
I must not get depressed, or loud, or angry. I must not start any conflicts. I must not show any weaknesses. I must stay in my little box and smile and say “Yessir.” to the guy who gave me a two hour pity job, or “I’m sure you did your best” to the faceless drone on the government hot line who just told me that I do not need an extra $10 a month in food despite being buried in evidence that I do. “No exceptions. If we helped you we’d have to help the next guy, and we are barely making it as it is.”
Because to deviate from the norm, to show red, is to lose even more of the very little you have left, like your (comparative freedom), your possessions, your health, or even your life.
Is it any wonder at all that I and others like me become either angry zealots or quiet suicides?
And is there any solutions to this at all?
I personally doubt it. Frankly, the best I could hope for is just to live in a more honest world. If the government flunkie said, “Hey, your sick and ugly and short and have no money so fuck you.” then at least I’d know what the problem actually was…and thus having defined it might have some chance of solving it.
But trying to solve a problem no one will acknowledge by social consensus is rather like trying to nail jello to the wall.
But, prove me wrong! Any thoughts, tips, or stories to share? Feel free.