The older I get, the smaller I get.
I don’t mean in the physical sense though I suppose that can be true, too, what with losing bone density and muscle and all the changes that come along with aging. What I mean is the older I get, the more I find is out there, the smaller I am in comparison. It’s a little like going back to the house you grew up in only to find that it feels small, much smaller than you remember.
When we’re born, we’re the center of the world. For our parents, anyway, that’s true. It feels that way to our tiny selves. The only thing that matters to us is our comfort. Siblings might come along to share the attention, but we only know that we matter, our comfort and our security.
Then we go to school and find out that we are one of several kids. There are other children with parents, and they feel they are quite important, too. The teacher knows our name, but we become part of something other than a family. We’re part of a “class,” a group of kids our age learning the same things though in slightly different ways. Our parents remind us that what we learn at school is important, that at some point we will grow up and have to make our own way. We go to junior high and high school and become part of a school more than a just a class. Then comes college, an even larger place where people don’t know our names, and it’s up to us to get what we need. Around the time we start college we begin to sense that we might not be the center of the universe despite what our parent(s) have lead us to believe. Sure, we’re special and important to our parents, but the rest of the world doesn’t give a shit what we know, feel, or want.
The rest of the world only cares what we can give.
We go door to door or as it’s done these days, site to site, offering up our information hoping someone will take a moment to look and see if we might have something to offer them. We hope they’ll call us and ask to meet us so maybe they can hire us to help them reach their goals.
We begin to create bills we have to pay for ourselves. Suddenly, salary and insurance, rent, loan payments and terms, even transportation matters. It becomes important to us what jobs we might be able to choose from and what we can get for our money. What other people can do for us matters in a different way than ever before; we truly begin to understand what it is to earn money, an opportunity, even respect. We start to care about politics because our own opinions and needs, while important to us, are drowned out by all the other opinions and needs of all the other people in this great big world. We find out that we’re small, and the world is big. Our point of view is most important to us, and we’re passionate about living our lives the way we want to, but everyone else feels pretty much the same way we do. All these decisions we make for ourselves matter to others. We are much smaller than we thought though we are part of a larger whole, a business, a city, a state, a country, the world. We work to find our place.
Ever since the election I’ve been thinking about the world in a different way than I ever did before. I’ve never had to think about what to do about a leader who not only doesn’t represent me, my needs and wants, but who actually intends to work against me. I haven’t agreed with some leaders before. W. Bush was a scary, stupid man who used lies and manipulation to kill a lot of people, but he wasn’t specifically against me and good people I love and respect. 45 is, and he’s proud of it, proud of his intentions to hurt people and families, quick to blame his mistakes on anyone else, including me.
Since the election I’ve watched as people like me demonstrate against the current government. Each holds a sign that expresses in a few words what is most important to them: women’s rights, Black Lives Matter, religious freedom, LGBTQ rights, immigrant/DREAMer rights, jobs, education, veteran’s rights and benefits, taking care of our poor, our elderly, healthcare, science, the environment, even the stock market and foreign relations. It all matters, but each of these issues affect us, personally, in different ways and to various degrees depending on who we are and where we live in the United States. We have more than ever to protect.
While my point of view is, obviously, the most important (wouldn’t you agree? ha!), I recognize that every decision I make, that my state makes, that we as a nation make, affects others. I read stories about saving coal mining jobs even though coal is on its way out, and a job we save today will be gone very soon anyway, regardless of what we do. I read about how tourism is way down because who wants to travel in or out of the United States? He’s “saving” a few coal jobs but giving up thousands of other jobs. 45’s tweets threatening businesses cause stocks to drop. 45’s tweets threatening other powers with war cause people in other countries to rethink decisions about working with America or Americans on anything, really. Our market and our government are too volatile. No wonder they want to avoid working with us or coming here. 45 tweets any idiotic or hateful thing that comes to his mind on a whim, for attention, for headlines. He doesn’t understand consequences, and if he doesn’t at this age, he never will.
I ran across this cartoon from Arend Van Dam of the Netherlands (above/attached to this post – it’s from politicalcartoons.com) and was reminded of another point of view. I’m not very familiar with life in the Netherlands, but I understand the people there are generally happy and feel relatively safe. Cartoonists all over the world must be having a great time with the current leadership in the United States. These buffoons in our government are probably giving out more material than these writers, cartoonists, and entertainers can keep up with.
Defense contractors the world over must be in great shape. Anyone who makes their money poisoning or polluting the environment in the United States is probably doing as much work as they can right now before regulations are put back in place to protect people and the environment. Who else has a stake in keeping these people are in power?
While I fear war and wish I could go to a dentist, wish I had been born a man instead, wish my neighbors didn’t have to fear going out in a hijab or turban, hope for my son and future generations to have access to quality education, someone else, from their point of view is doing very well. We are each the POV character in our story. I’m learning more than I knew there was as I look out into this great big world from my bit part in the story, as I try to put myself into other people’s shoes, and see the same world from their point of view. The world just keeps getting bigger. And scarier.