The Fierce Urgency of Now

by francine Hardaway on August 21, 2008

Today on NewsGangLive, Karoli started the program by asking what “The Fierce Urgency of Now” meant to each of us today. Here’s what it means to me:
They say that every once in a while, a recession is necessary to wring out the excesses in the system.

They say that Bernanke should resign and that the sub-prime market deserves what it is getting. Lenders, buyers, brokers and realtors all got greedy.

Everyone should have known better.

That is the conventional wisdom from the economists I see on TV. But let me tell you what I see in MY house.

We’re not wringing out excesses. We’re eliminating necessities. Or at least some of us are.

Once again, my son (more accurately, my former foster son who is now a man) has been laid off. He has been working at a steel truss plant, and they just don’t have any work at the plant because of the real estate slowdown. Not surprising. But very sad.

Having done his time and paid his restitution, he is engaged to be married to a very nice girl and they can’t afford to get married. He goes to college, she goes to college. He has a job (or did), she has a job. They are doing nothing wrong. In fact, they’re doing everything right. No drinking, no carousing, no popping off to strange vacation spots. They have a plan and a budget.

But right now they don’t have much more opportunity than Barack Obama’s mythical Kenyan half-brother.

Because Jerry has felonies on his record, he’s precluded from working in just about every industry you can imagine, including health care (which has great shortages) and financial services. He couldn’t even get a job with Target lifting boxes, because they do a background check. So do most large companies. No one is forgiven, even if (as he has) they have done their time, grown up, and even paid off their restitution.

To me, this is incredibly unfair. Yes, he was on drugs as a teenager. If you had grown up in his birth family, you probably would have been as well. His mother is still on crack, his father committed suicide because he owed drug dealers money, and his older sister ran away and has never been seen again. No one in the family had graduated high school before he did–while in prison. And last semester he got all A’s.

When he moved into my house at age ten, my husband and I sold him the middle class bill of goods. School is worthwhile, work is worthwhile, obeying the law is worthwhile, because there are societal rewards for these actions.

Outside of a year of backsliding after my husband died, Jerry bought the dream. In prison, he bought the dream of the new start. He took all the classes: anger management, substance abuse, plumbing, wiring, carpentry, writing — everything they offered, he took.

Yet right now, if it weren’t for me and my house in Phoenix, he would be homeless, just as his family used to be after they spent all their welfare on drugs.

This is tough on his fiancee, who is herself a dreamer. But she’s working at Costco, trying to support her own education, begging her employer to transfer to a store closer to home, so she won’t be spending all her money on gas.

In the mean time, I hear both presidential candidates spouting platitudes about what Russia must do, what Georgia must do, what Congress must do. I hear a lot about change, and a lot about offshore drilling. A lot about posturing and positioning to the rest of the world, and a lot about each other’s flipflops.

But I don’t hear either of them offering Jerry an opportunity. Weren’t we the Land of Opportunity?

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Karoli August 21, 2008 at 6:22 pm

This is why I’m so adamant about Obama being elected. It is more about attitude than even specific changes. The McCain attitude is a ‘screw you, deal with it’ attitude that is purely corporate and without conscience for regard for one’s fellow man.

It’s not just your stepson. My veteran son with no record whatsover can’t find anything beyond minimum wage as a job. This is not right.

The fierce urgency of now extends beyond our kids. it affects each and every person living in this nation who has even small inklings of heart. We are in danger of losing our collective compassion if McCain is elected.

francine hardaway August 21, 2008 at 8:55 pm

I’m not sure how to agree more strongly with you. It seems to me that support for Obama comes from the heart, and not from some theory of economics.

Mark August 22, 2008 at 9:46 am

In a land of delusional people a presidential candidate must either himself be delusional or speak within the delusion.

A culture is delusion: it is a story that is told to its people by the people and for the people. It is based on whims and desires and all things temporary and not of the depth of introspection: rather it is the masturbatory fantasy of an ideal that lives in a world of black and white where the human condition exists in that world exploited by Cecil B. Demille.

A culture can rationalize logic in a false concept: we were once ready to go to war with Russia for its desire to build a missile base on Cuba but cannot understand why Russia would be against us building a missile defense base in the Ukraine, and then be totally miffed by their increased protectionist attitude towards their backyard.

A culture can criminalize an entire segment of its working class of citizens, requiring the importation of aliens to replace them and then say that they are stealing jobs from the indigenous people.

A culture can export its manufacturing to another culture, exploiting the Nuevo wealth of the exploited and then be stunned by the imperfections of the product.

A culture can export its manufacturing to another culture and then complain about that culture’s aggressive attempts to acquire the raw materials to build those products.

A culture can ignore the taboo effects (to come in contact with taboo is to become taboo) of its imperialism.

A culture eventually reaches a point where it’s practitioners are no longer capable of producing great indigenous leaders. Beyond that an anomaly comes along: where a great leader comes to the forefront in spite of the culture and in an ironic twist of suffering for those few that can see it; the culture cannot identify or elect that leader and instead they continue to elect less than satisfactory leaders. Leaders that are more representative of the delusion.



Oh and I forgot:

That culture can hide behind the word “Law” as in “We are a nation of Laws” which means what? We are a nation of a culture that has created a ritual to reinforce its whims and desires that are apt to change like the wind but since it is a culture: it’s cool. What it really means is those in power get to make the rules! Or power ….well you know.

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