Do you remember the children’s game Marco Polo. One child is chosen as ‘it’ and closes their eyes. After counting to 10, the child tries to find the others (keeping eyes closed) by yelling “Marco” and hearing the children respond “Polo”. Their voices serve as a guide to find them.
Unlike the game, I can no longer close my eyes and let other voices guide me. You see, those voices are trying to make me believe we are a country that is lost and without hope.
As a public employee in Wisconsin, I am tired of political voices that invade my space every day. I am tired of division. I am tired of upset. I am tired of having the few issues that divide us become the major talking points in this political drama. I believe we have more in common than different, yet we are letting our differences become the story.
I don’t completely blame the politicians, but I do completely blame ourselves. We have stood by for too long and let others dictate what we should believe.
This country went to war and what was my personal sacrifice? Nothing. Those who served and those families who sent loved ones bore the burden. I got a tax cut. Oh, I stood and clapped at parades. I thanked those in uniform when I saw them. I thanked coworkers who made the sacrifice for me. I am ashamed I did not protest the tax cut. I am ashamed that it was offered to me and you.
I remember, years ago, when my bank was local. Banks were tied to the success of the community. If someone wanted to build a store near another store offering the same products, their loan was denied. Local banks would not lend money so one business could succeed while another failed. Now, banks aren’t local and simple logic is no longer in play. I recently witnessed Outback Steakhouse going out of business because Texas Roadhouse built their business across the street. In the good old days, Texas Roadhouse would not have gotten that loan.
I remember, years ago, having to put 20% down to purchase my first home. It was a sacrifice and a hardship, but when we finally purchased our home we could afford it. During our country’s boom economy, people were allowed to take loans that stretched their finances. Where were the voices of family, friends and bankers ensuring caution and personal fiscal responsibility? Those voices were glaringly silent.
So, I have turned off the television. Stayed away from the computer. Shut out the talking heads of media and tried to regain a sense of self and community. And it is working. Without listening to others tell me what to believe, I see the goodness in my neighbor (who has completely different political views than I do). I see the goodness in the clerk waiting on me at the store. I see the goodness in the woman with perfect hair and clothes. I see the goodness in the children I work with every day, and especially their parents who have told me they think I have it too easy and should stop being a burden on the tax payers.
Last night, as I fumbled my way back to bed, in the dark, after visiting the bathroom, I thought how can I find my way?
I called out into the room, “Marco!”
My husband yelled, “What!”
I said, “You were supposed to say Polo.” Then I crawled under the covers to my safe haven. I am so blessed to live in this country.
Let’s turn off the media, silence those who make money from our angst and start living in community with each other.