January. The beginning of the cold months without the sparkly lights and ornaments. Just cold, slush, rain, snow and a growing ache in joints that you’ve abused far too often over the years. It’s the season of boots, warm jackets, coffee and a general disdain for the wind that seems to always be howling in the Midwestern United States.
As always. I tend to reminisce a lot this month. The years pass faster now, and it’s not as painful as it once was and I am more introspective than I used to be. Taking a trip down memory lane is a lot more analytical, less emotional, more fact finding and note taking than tears or wishes for a time past.
People are shaped by their lives, not just by their own actions but by those around them, current events, and the environment. Events in a person’s childhood could very well effect how they view the world as an adult, right down to their politics or their favorite cardigan color. Then of course, as the child grows, they learn how to adapt and process what goes on in the world around them. Children turn into teenagers, and teenagers turn into adults, and the rowdy twenty year olds at the pub mellow out into well rounded individuals.
Or that’s the hope anyway. I think that mindset comes about from the idea that “things will get better”. No one really believes that the world stays a stagnant place, we’re taught in school that the human race is advancing at an ever faster rate! In the future we’re going to cure hunger, poverty, global warming, government corruption, disease and on and on and on. So the terrible things we face when we’re younger, we can endure them because surely, some day soon, we won’t have to anymore.
Well. This will be my 34th trip around the sun, and I’m wondering: when the fuck does it get better?
Why are all the things that plagued my childhood still an issue? This is what I don’t understand. Supposedly the United States of America is one of the best countries out there, if you listen to our current president, we’re the best at everything we do.
- So back, more than 20 years ago now, Blue Cross and Blue Shield tried to kick my mother off of her insurance while she battled lung cancer.. this is still the reality for cancer patients and chronic illness patients throughout our country. Not only that, but a cancer diagnosis and treatment, or any chronic illness for that matter can bankrupt a family.. why hasn’t this been solved in the last 20 years? Why is it just accepted as the norm for a family to open a GoFundMe to try and save their home as the medical bills flood in?
- Why is hunger and poverty still a major issue in our country? The lines for the local food pantries are down the street as our government restricts who can get food assistance and who can not. There are children, in my own neighborhood, that rely on school lunches as their sole meal of the day, and this is a common occurrence in America. Enough so that we have pledge drives for it. Wages have barely budged, while inflation has run amok, and our government boasts almost daily about how great the stock market is doing. Newsflash: A good day on Wallstreet does not put food on the table for the poor.
- Homelessness. I remember visiting downtown Chicago as a child for my first trip to a big city restaurant, and asking my Aunt why there was a man sleeping on the pavement. I remember tearing up through our entire meal because the idea that people didn’t have a place to sleep at night didn’t compute in my little-kid-brain. If that was reality for some people, I’d never complain when our pantry ran a little short or I couldn’t get new school clothes. Now? We have more vacant houses than we know what to do with thanks to shady real estate investors and Wallstreet con artists, yet we still have families, even veterans sleeping on the streets. How the hell, is this still a problem in the greatest country on earth? (/s)
I could go on and on and on. I don’t mourn so much for my own past any more. My childhood was good despite losing my mother, and the ensuing turmoil. I had gotten through it because “things would get better”. I honestly believed that when I was older I wouldn’t see my friends losing their houses to medical debt, I wouldn’t see children go hungry because working 2 jobs wasn’t enough to put food on the able. I believed in this country.
So no, I don’t mourn for my past anymore. I don’t get angry at the medical debt that I have accrued in the past decade, or the struggles of my childhood, or the sad memories. I mourn for what I had believed would be in the future. I mourn for what we could have been. I mourn for what and who we have lost along the way.
Now, in 2020, with another conflict in the Middle East brewing, with half of our country rallying behind the thought that health care is not something that every human should have, my feet are firmly here in the present. It’s 2020, and our president is tweeting out images of dead Iranians and racist Photoshop jobs and boasting about wanting to commit two different war crimes within a weeks time while the rest of our government sits by idly.. I’m here now, I’m no longer wallowing. I’m here to witness the hunger, the pain, the war, the hate.. because honestly? America, we’ve waiting too god damned long.
Enough is enough. It’s time to move forward and start solving some of our problems instead of dumping gasoline on the fire. It’s 2020, what will you do?