May 11, 2014

Is Our Fear Making Us Invisible? ~ Sherri Rosen


I cannot speak for all, I can only speak for myself. I have the bitter taste of being invisible.

When I see what’s happening in our country, I ask whether our fear is making us all invisible, returning us to darker days? It is important to ponder this question.

We see the way things were, what was wrong in our national past, and now, we seem to be returning to the way much of it was. Is this what we want again? Are the billionaires going to control our lives by frightening us into blaming each other with bigotry for the problems they cause? And who can fight these billionaires, who are squeezing the life out of us?

The fear and blame have provoked a cruelty in our society. Yes, in some ways, we’ve experienced good changes. However, there are many of us who still hold onto prejudices, and many of our politicians are paid off or otherwise influenced by the very rich to keep us from being the uplifted America we deserve to be.

1) Before the 1960’s, most women were expected to be pretty, get married, have children and stay home. Today, despite all the hard-won progress in opportunities and attitudes, many women still find themselves defenseless victims, discriminated against at work, and treated as sexual objects. Do we women want the rights we have fought for to be taken away from us all over again? I feel like we are going backwards, not forwards.

2) After so much struggle and violence, after slavery and civil war, racism remains. Even voter rights won in the 1960’s are now being challenged. Huge numbers of African-American men are imprisoned, often for light crimes, or even no crime. Poverty is rampant. Education is frequently denied, and segregation is returning. There have been so many forward movements for African-Americans in this country. We have our first Black president! Yet racism is still embedded in our society. We still hear racial slurs. Do we want to go back?

3) Our country has been built by immigrants. Yet if someone speaks differently or wears the clothing of their culture, they’re treated as a lesser person. Is this the way we want to be? Will we not allow rights for immigrants, those who help this country to grow? Why do we shut them out of our culture?

4) Many people still think that if someone is gay, they should go to therapy to get over it, or stay in their “closet” and never come out. Rights for gay men and women have come a long way, but there is strong political activity to restrict them. The very improvement in rights, such as the right to marry, is highly provocative to many people. Yet we must go forward.

5) If one is mentally ill, our society severely limits the time and money spent to take care of them. We can see untreated people on the streets. Perhaps talking to themselves, they make the rest of us uneasy. With our relaxed gun control laws, ill people can get a hold of weapons. Disregarding these people’s needs can lead to terrible tragedy, like the shooting of children in Sandy Hook, Connecticut.

6) Overweight people are judged harshly, not considered worth anyone’s time or interest, while we honor super-skinny models. We have made some headway in our attitudes toward the non-skinny. There is the idea that people of any size are part of our society and have every right to live a decent, loving life. But our compassion toward folks who are “fat” is often still limited. We need to realize that for many, over-eating is an addiction, not a choice.

7) Those struggling with cancer, or who are otherwise seriously ill, need all of our love and comfort. Instead, they often have the added stress of paying debilitating costs, or even being denied treatment. Why are we so scared to be with sick people, as if it’ll rub off on us? We may be in their situation someday. We are terribly afraid of death and those who are dying. But why aren’t we taking the time to honor our people while they are alive, and why are we so frightened to be around the dying, anyway?

8) We also don’t have time for the physically challenged. We’ve made improvements, but we need more accessibility for people in wheelchairs, and people who cannot climb stairs. Again, where is our concern for others?

9) “If I’m not getting old, I have no time for you.” Seniors are such a vibrant part of our society, but we are trying to take social security away from them. Some end up just waiting to die, alone, not being cared for with any grace or dignity. Perhaps shipped off to a low-standards nursing home.

10) As much acceptance as Jews have gained over the decades, I see a rise in name-calling and anti-semitism. Meanwhile, there seems to be widespread ignorance of what’s currently happening, with enormous U.S. support, in Israel. Do we want the horrors of the past to be repeated? Why can’t we just accept one another?

11) The poor are often mistakenly seen never to be working hard enough. They somehow aren’t deserving of aid. Today, the programs to help them live decent lives are being taken away. It’s said that because they aren’t working hard enough, they aren’t deserving. Why are we being so cruel? Where is our compassion?

I want us to fight back rather than blame. I want us to take charge. I know that we can make this country great. If we accept that our difficulties are “just the way it is,” and don’t take a stand for ourselves, what does that say about us? I ask that we not regress further into our past.

Instead, if we have faltered, let’s do something about it.

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Apprentice Editor: Chrissy Tustison / Editor: Catherine Monkman

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