Saturday, May 26, 2007

The American garden~

There is a small Johnny-jump-up growing outside of the garden. A little farther down, behind the little wire fence my husband put up to contain their exuberance, the rest of the jump-ups grow. Beautiful! But restrained. Kept in check. Not a bad thing, but . . . I'm the one outside the fence. Metaphorically speaking.

I don't like being contained. Yet neither do I need to be. I won't wander far. But I want to be able to. Put me behind a fence and I'll climb over. No fence? I'll stay put. Maybe.

Along these lines, I don't like to be manipulated, which is what advertisers do to sell products. I can withstand the appeal to my ego when I hear, "Choosey mothers chose Jiff." I'm fine with not being considered choosey. I'll buy the product I like at the price I like. I'm a hard sell.

I find it especially irritating, and perhaps more insidious, to hear politicians-- of any party, at any level-- say, "The American people will not stand for this." Or, "The American people know better than to fall for this rhetoric."

This is manipulation at its finest. And lowest. It's an appeal to our desire to be seen as an intelligent part of the mainstream. If the American people all agree, many think, who am I to disagree? Who wants to be out of sync with the vast population of Americans? Too many of us slip into the stream and flow along rather than swimming hard the other way.

The American people? Who are we? Can we be lumped into one category with one collective mind? Who are these politicians who dare speak for me, let alone all of us? There are over 300 million "American people."

Driving home on jammed Route 24, I think of the diversity of people sharing the road. I'm willing to bet there is not one who is like me in any but the most general of ways. Consider just the broad demographic categories measured every ten years in the US census: income, education, race, gender, religion, age, marital status . . . think of the endless permutations of characteristics that make each of us unique.

Then stop and think. Period. Who will you let speak for you? You're one in 300 million. But you have a unique voice.


JR's Thumbprints said...

After perusing Duotrope's Digest and linking to the Writer's Ezine, I read your "Why I blog" piece. I read it to see if I could find out why, after blogging for one year (354 posts), I've lost interest in this form of writing. Don't get me wrong, I'm still writing every day and maintaining my blog, but the desire to write on it has declined. Perhaps, you could do a follow up on blog writing.

Josie said...

Ruth, from our viewpoint here in Canada, the American media really does lump all Americans together as "one". But you are hugely diverse. I am fascinated by American politics, and the American election coming up in 2008 will be very interesting. I hope the American people will really make their voices heard, because the American elections really do affect the rest of the entire world.

I just read your post about your Mom. She looks absolutely adorable. Please say hello to her for me.


Ruth D~ said...


My initial thought is that what started as something new and "fun" has lost its bloom. Keep your blog going, but don't demand a post a day from yourself. Or write only a brief comment or observation, and that's enough for the day. Or declare a two week moratorium on your blog and start fresh after the vacation. But finally, if it isn't worth the effort any more . . . just stop. Life's too short.

Your follow up idea . . . look for it in a year. :>)

Ruth D~ said...


I'll tell my Mom. That's nice of you. Although explaining how someone from Canada saw her picture on a "blog" could be tough.:>) She and my father never moved into the world of computers.

Speaking as one voice from America, we (oops), I, value our northern neighbor. I'd love to hear more of how we appear to you via media portrayal.