“Love” is a Verb; “Socialist” is an Insult

March 26, 2010

Okay, I wan’t going to do this.  But you made me do it.

Wednesday’s comments were so awesome, I had to follow up on some of them.  I’m not going to rehash Wednesday’s post.  I’m not even going to talk about healthcare (much.)  But every once in a while, you readers steer the content of this blog because you rule.

Some comments were so good, I was jealous that I hadn’t posted them.

And, I actually have a lot of international readers.  It’s really interesting to see perspectives from outside my own culture.  It just sent a flurry of thoughts in my head about what I think of my own weird culture.

Here we go.

Five Observations of American Culture

“Love” is a verb; “Socialist” is an insult.

Joanna said:  “Watching this all unfold…from my vantage point in Australia I have found it very odd.  The socialism phobia is a bit odd…People use socialist as though it was a bad insult and socialism as though it was worse than nazism.”

Yes, being called a “socialist” is an insult in America.  It’s a curse word.  We don’t care if other countries are happy being quasi-socialist.  America beat socialism in the Cold War.  Nazis killed 16 million people and now make great movie and videogame villains.  Socialists are much more sinister than Nazis to Americans, and provide no entertainment value.  Americans value personal freedom above all else, even when every choice is lousy.   

America is a two party political system.  Most people follow one or the other, and then make wild accusations about the people on the other side.  For example, one party is made of those who hate poor people, homosexuals, fair trade, the environment, minorities, and Catholics.  And then the other party are “socialists” who hate America, free trade, soldiers, and fetuses.  That’s American politics.

Who is “poor?”
Jenna said:  “The poor in Jesus’ day were people with no food and no clothes and no shelter. The poor in our day are people with no plasma tvs. Oh wait, actually, they have plasma tvs, and cell phones, and laptops, and designer clothes, etc.”

Not that I want to make blanket judgments on people, because there are actually many poor people, even in America.  But I can’t tell you how many times I cashiered people at the grocery store who paid with food stamps…then piled the conveyor belt full of beer, smokes, and Little Debbies…and paid for that with cash.  The new healthcare reform subsidizes insurance for people making up to $88 grand.  Our concept of “poor” is really insane.

When I see an “unfortunate” person asking me for money on the streets, my gut tells me that they aren’t just unfortunate. They must’ve used their freedom (which I value above all else) to make bad decisions. Case in point: They say 30 million people in America are uninsured. That doesn’t mean all of them are too “poor” to afford it. It means a bunch of them are being stupid, and the rest are poor. I had a stupid friend who didn’t buy insurance, though he could’ve. Then he broke his leg skateboarding. Then he actually was “poor.” And still stupid.

Americans love to pretend they’re poor.  Christians pretend they’re poor because they’re afraid Jesus hates rich people.  Union workers pretend they’re poor and downtrodden because they’re “blue collar” (though they make tons more cash than I ever will.)  Pastors pretend to be poor because it makes them seem godly.  Our concept of “poor” is a cheap insult to real “poor” people.

Woooo!  Texas!
Katdish said:  “I’m still kinda hoping Texas takes this opportunity to secede.”

So is everyone else.  Please feel free and have at it.  We’ve had enough of your whooping and hollering and your remembering the Alamo.  Know what?  I don’t think Texas has the guts to secede.  Yeah, them’s fightin’ words.

Helping the Poor
SweetAnniesKitchen (and many others) said:  “I see a lot of responses here about “caring for the poor.” This is the job of the church. Not the government…Time to do what Jesus called us to do! “

Gee that would be great, but I just don’t know if that’s really what churches should do.  If churches are building schools and hospitals and orphanages, how will they ever put together incredible light shows, or buy spinning globes for their stages, or do anything that spoiled, rich, “unchurched” people need to hold their attention through an eight minute sermon? 

Everything is a sermon waiting to happen
Tracy said: “I also get frustrated by the picture that if I’m not [in favor of] this healthcare reform package that I don’t care about the poor.”

This was one comment I was so jealous of, I wish I had thought of it, because it’s definately occurred to me.  Everything in America is a moral issue.  Healthcare.  Global warming.  Taxes.  Oil.  Won’t someone please think of the children?!  When everything is turned into a moral issue, obviously there are “bad” guys who don’t want to do the “right” thing.  People who don’t want this particular healthcare reform are “evil,” and “uncaring.”

And when people are saying you’re “evil” because you don’t agree, just about the only word you can label your opponent with that has the same teeth to it is “socialist.”

Okay, that’s what I can gather about our culture.  What’s your perspective?  Is $88 thousand bucks “poor?”  Is “socialist” an insult or a compliment?  If you’re from outside the U.S., how does your culture differ?

One response to “Love” is a Verb; “Socialist” is an Insult

  1. Having traveled 3rd World countries – poor is really poor – no homes, no food, no welfare, no unemployment. Where I live, it costs $20K a year to live with a rented room, and a car without payments. A three bedroom home costs $300K. Perspective is everything.

    Socialism a societal mold that makes everyone that same – work, taxes, religion, healthcare, education, and in some cases religion or the lack of it – well except for the elite.

    I’d like to see the US go back to protecting the country and providing roads and transportation infrastructure. Let the states do the rest.