The Appeal of Socially-Endorsed Ignorance

I did everything right. I don’t have any parental safety nets or trust funds lying in wait to rescue Photoshopped damsels in distress. I worked a minimum of 2 jobs since age 14, never got a credit card or went on a shopping spree, was the first in my family to graduate from college. I went to a good school and amassed a hysterical amount of student loans so that I could get a good job. The student loans resulted in my taking any available job immediately upon graduation, just to try and balance out my debts. I ended up working a variety of jobs in over 8 industries.

That, in turn, resulted in my credit taking a hit, and when I tried to apply for more substantial jobs, or jobs that I was actually interested in, I’d be informed one of two things. One: my resumee was too scattered and unfocused (apparently only people with the luxury and easy confidence of choice are permitted to have a career in their desired field.) Two: my credit rating was too bad for me to be trusted.

Am I the only one who sees the problem with this formula?

Go to college + amass student loans + graduate into worst economy since great depression + try to get a career to fix resulting negative credit+ get told that credit is too bad to get a job to pay these loans = The American Dream.

So my real question is: why isn’t anybody doing anything? That may seem like an overly bright-eyed and bushy-tailed sentence (after all, naivete is only acceptable in our society when it accompanied by a cute face.) The reality is, our pop culture and news media have combined in a determined effort to focus on what’s easy.

Abortion, the Controversial Private Lives of Senators, and gay marriage SHOULD NOT be the main issues being bandied about by pundits and causing outraged gasps when House of Rep speakers make misogynistic remarks. I am liberal, pro-choice and support gay marriage. I do not mean to trivialize any of these issues or the suffering experienced by those affected.

But it is not illegal to be gay in our country. I’ve lived in places where people didn’t dare come out, not for fear of parental reprisal but out of fear of being killed by their peers and/or government. Is the U.S. ideal? No. If we were facing the apocalypse, would this be the deciding factor in determining our collective survival without descending into Lord of the Flies territory? No. Abortion? That was decided in Roe v. Wade over 50 years ago.

Why is the press trying to make us focus on these issues? Because they have obvious answers and pretty celebrities with pre-selected, appropriate soundbites. They make shiny, sparkly
news segments with fixed endings, nicely contained in the parameters of a network story.

That doesn’t make it right. Education, poverty, healthcare…all the big issues that really need to be addressed and not just mouthed platitudes at, go unresolved. Maybe they’re thrown into relief after a disaster and the ensuing Hollywood Phone-a-Thon, but then they go right back to being ignored.

What about the less provocative but infinitely more troubling cracks in our foundation? The practice of extraordinary rendition, where we outsource suspected terrorists (in one case because he was having lunch with the brother of a guy the CIA had their eye on) to other countries to be tortured. Technically, we’re not getting our hands dirty so our government and media have turned a blind eye to any questionable moral ground.

If you want a more family-friendly issue than torture, how about adoption? It’s a topic riddled with so many problems I don’t even know where to begin. Maybe with the fact that annual statistics average about 400,000 children being adopted, with well over 120,000 left to the cold. Almost 30,000 children in the fostercare system “graduate” or “grow out” at age 18 and are left largely to their own devices, having never known a stable family or home environment. A shockingly high percentage go on to do jail time, enter abusive relationships or have teen pregnancies.

I’m not listing an exact number because it’s almost impossible to find. The 2 major reports I could find on the subject are from 2008, by the Child Welfare Information Gateway, and in 1992 by the National Center for State Courts. Another problem is that prospective parents get deterred by cost, extensive red tape, and lengthy adoption process…then end up adopting children from overseas.

To narrow the pool even further, in many states it is virtually impossible for gay couples or nontraditional families to adopt even though the need is desperate. Part of it is good ol’ discrimination, with schools of thought like the parent’s sexuality would be forced on the child. Part of it is the legitimate fear that already troubled kids might get mocked because of their parent’s sexual orientation. But shouldn’t we address our need as a society to radically alter that attitude, instead of leaving children as orphans in the hope they would be less damaged?

I didn’t mean to go on an adoption tirade, but there are many other substantial problems, heavyweights to our current lightweight debates. Our news stations dress up their fluff topics with cool holograms, impressive statistical data, and interactive visual aids. But they don’t look at the homeless veterans, working moms unable to provide for their families or children crossing their fingers in the hopes of finding a family.

They don’t look at people like me, Nomad Generation graduates who average 60+ hours a week only to keep drowning in ominous yellow envelopes.

After all, it’s easier to pretend. Everybody’s decided with a series of winks and nudges to ignore the elephants in the room in favor of the more colorful butterflies.

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