Saturday, August 6, 2011

My Middle Class Bubble of Ennui (nothing to do with poetry or not much anyway)

I've been avoiding this blog. I've felt such an enormous sense of ennui, not just about this blog (what does it matter anyway?) but in regards to making an attempt to engage the world at all. When I turn on the news, I feel I am watching some other reality that has nothing to do with mine. Or rather that my reality cannot interact or affect that reality. Two bubbles existing side by side with no overlap...

Which brings me to the reason I felt compelled to post today from my bubble of ennui...

In Israel, the middle class (Yes, that's us!!) are rising up. From their couches and comfortable seats in the cafes, they are protesting the rising cost of housing, the fact that the political system no longer represents any of their interests. It's been all over the Israeli papers and media. An essay by Etgar Keret from pretty much sums it up. As one protestor from the streets says in the essay:

“The middle class is the easiest group to screw,” Alon, a demonstrator pushing a baby carriage, explained to me, “It’s hardest for them to take to the streets; the poor can go all the way—they have nothing to lose anyway. The rich can hire lawyers and lobbyists and who knows what else. But the middle class is stuck there in the middle: without the economic power required to oil the system, but with just enough to worry about losing what it has. That’s why they’ve been milking us dry for years. But it’s over now.”

Isn't that the way a lot of us feel? We're afraid to risk our dwindling capital by making waves. OR, worse, instead of blaming the government for catering to special interests, wars, corporate and financial institution interests at the expense of the middle class, we resent whatever small resources go to the worse off, the unemployed, the poor, the uneducated, the immigrants. It's a form of scapegoating, to pull  a term from the Old Testament.

As Etger goes on in the essay about the Israeli protests: I could sense something else underlying his words, something that is shared by all the people I spoke to at the demonstration: how alienated they feel from the Knesset that is supposed to represent them. Isreal’s parliament pushes through, on a daily basis, laws favoring the settlers, the ultra-Orthodox, and other groups skilled at lobbying and manipulating it. It has never engaged in any dialogue with the tens of thousands of people who decided one evening to take to the streets.

Substitute US Congress for Knesset, corporate interests, the wealthy, right-wing evangelicals for settlers and ultra-Orthodox and you have the situation in the US.

Etger then asks the same protestor, “What are you hungry for?”

“For a country that is a little less heartless,” he said, and gave his baby, who had just woken up, a bottle. “One that doesn’t try to push only a culture of power and force, but also a culture that values compassion. Being a Jew isn’t just being a settler, you know; being a Jew also means having compassion. I swear. You don’t believe me? Go home and Google it.”

Me too. A little more compassion, a little less heartlessness.
What to do? I don't have a plan but a few things I'm going to do: write my congressman, donate some dollars to Planned Parenthood, plan how to be in the US for the campaign season, and write a poem.

No comments:

Post a Comment