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.