I really am trying to be good. As my friend, Mike, says he is doing, I am trying not to be so negative. And I think my last few columns reflect that.
But there are some things I just have to share.
And if you are now taking a deep breath and considering moving on, let me just say, hang on; it won’t be that bad — maybe.
It depends if it is your ox I gore. If you have a good sense of humor or it is someone else’s ox I gore, then you will enjoy this.
I have some pet peeves. Really? Those who know me will have this response. I have been accused of some of these. Some of these are clearly, “you people.”
Let’s take the term, “you people.” I was castigating my daughter for using this term one day, when she and my wife looked at me and uttered the phrase no one, in the midst of self-righteous indignation, ever wants to hear. “Have you ever listened to yourself?”
It seems it is one of my favorite phrases. This was confirmed for me, as I did listen to myself over the next few days. Children will, for the rest of your life, remind you of your shortcomings. We are, after all, their first teachers.
I have written in the past about parking scofflaws, especially in regard to those who use and abuse handicap parking spaces. Just this morning, I saw two cars, thankfully using different parking spaces, whose drivers could not seem to keep their vehicles within the boundaries of the ample handicap parking spaces.
And that comment about two cars parked in the same space, well, you wouldn’t believe what I have seen. Well, maybe you would.
As a social worker, I love it when someone suggests I don’t have the same experiences in the world as they do, that I live some kind of an “ivory tower” existence, and because of this, I don’t know what the real world is like.
I may not see these experiences the same as others, but I go to church, the grocery, gas station, etc. I see people using food stamps and TANF (welfare) cards. I also interact with all manner of people. It is my profession.
Are there “welfare cheats?” Of course.
Are there people who “game the system” in getting Social Security? Of course.
Are they the majority? Not even close.
Take the spurious plan enacted in many states to drug test every person receiving public assistance. Have these systems caught people on assistance using drugs? Yes. The figure is somewhere around 1 percent.
And the expense for these programs? That is in the millions of dollars. But it is one of those programs politicians can trot out to the electorate to say they have done something. The fact it is not cost-effective does not seem to worry them.
And many of these politicians are supported, wholly or in part, in their viewpoints by talking heads. You know who they are. People on the political left or right who find the bully pulpit of media and let loose all manner of ideas and thoughts on the public.
I am like everyone else, though. I like the talking heads who agree with my world view. Are they correct in their opinions? It depends on your point of view.
I find, though, that far too often the point of these individuals’ efforts is not to enlighten us but to sell their view of the world in such a way that we keep coming back to watch them again. It is kind of like watching a train wreck, though. Is it helpful for us to watch, if we aren’t going to learn something from it and try to do something about whatever issue they want us to know about?
Is this entirely their fault, though? No. It is much the fault of those of us who listen to their vitriol and spout it to others without checking the facts. There is too much information out there to keep us from doing this.
Use the numerous reliable sources on the Internet to do this. It is way too easy to allow us to avoid this responsibility of living in a democracy.
Well, that’s it. I hope this wasn’t too bad. I certainly feel better. For those whose ox I gored, please listen to yourself. I guarantee you, you will learn much about how others see you. I did.
Jim Matthews is a Greenfield resident.