Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Are We As Horrible A People As Our News Implies?

Perhaps yes, we are. An article in today's NYT highlights a mother's ultimate sacrifice for the Holiday welfare of her daughter. It's a moving story of putting others ahead of self. I'll just pull the quotation from the photo caption to explain, because it sums up the current economic crisis better than I ever could:

Kristen Hunt, of Safety Harbor, Fla., [pictured above in her two car garage filled with gifts for her daughter] that she has bought for her daughter, McKenna. Because of the weak economy, Ms. Hunt is putting off buying a pair of designer jeans for herself
Excuse me while I vomit and repeatedly bang my head against the wall. Are you joking? Not even my nearly empty bank account has made me want to stay home this Friday - but this article sure does. That Kitchen-Aid mixer I really want from Costco (super sale with coupon) suddenly seems like a discount offering from the Devil himself and any money I (don't) have for that should immediately be donated to any number of charities or simply burried in the backyard for safekeeping as the End Times near.

We're a country that doesn't know the meaning of sacrifice. My generation, especially, has never been asked to give up a damn thing when things get difficult. I hope Obama finds a new way to spin JFK's Ask Not decree in a way to which we respond openly and with insane amounts of giving.

I can understand that, down the grafs of the article, there are significant worries: mothers' lowered self-spending imperils the fashion industry which trickles down and slams working class seamstresses, retail clerks, etc, especially hard. But the newsworthy aspects of the article can't rise above the really shameful lede.

2 comments:

TB said...

You've made me feel so much better.
There was I, believing your headline described us here in GordonBrownLand.

TB said...

Nella Last's War established a housewife and mother from Barrow-in-Furness England as one of the most powerful and moving voices of the Second World War, and inspired the award-winning UK television drama Housewife, 49.
Here is an extract from her diary of August 1946:

"I got old Joe an ounce of tobacco — such a scrap for 2s 5d. The poor dear only has what we take and it's his only little comfort or extravagance. I had the kippers and haddock, scraps of fat off my meat I'd not rendered down, a little cup of dripping and some loganberries and some Bile Beans as a different aperient for Aunt Sarah. I think their weekly ration of flour had been a bit of a shock when she saw it, bless her. She likes to give and I know a neighbour has always got a cob or tea cakes. I said, 'You will have to do as I am doing with Will's mother — ask her to send an odd pound of flour up.' She smiled but looked wistful as she shook her head. It worries her when so much that was the core of her very life is going — no sweeties for children, no rosy apples in the attic, no little pots of jam and jelly for wee presents, always dodging and contriving.
Suddenly I could have wept as she showed me a really beautiful rug, fit for anyone's polished floor in its faded russets and browns in a quite good pattern, all made from washed scraps of cloth, nothing of value, just bits. I looked at her little wrinkled walnut of a face as she said, 'We have yet so many blessings. It's not right of Mrs Marshall (a neighbour) to be so angry about bread ration¬ing if it will help the thoughtless to share with the hungry.' If I'd put my thoughts into words, the rag rug would have seemed a symbol of my little auntie's life. She has had so little, yet from its bits and pieces made harmony, and a home for an old cousin where they are ending their lives in peace and, in the eyes of the understanding, real beauty. She is so frail, so poor, so old, yet is so strong, so rich, so ever young, so happy with each day's little efforts, so interested in all and everything, more alive at eighty- two than many young ones of today."