The soul has greater need of the ideal than the real for it is by the real that we exist, it is by the ideal that we live

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Depersonalization

"I hope that individual is able to overcome his issues."

"The individual in question is in custody..."

"Apologies to that individual."

Those are just the incidences of depersonalization  I heard yesterday on the radio, and I doubt I was paying enough attention to notice them all.

The power of language is seldom recognized.  We use language as a tool to communicate, but we seldom take the time to think about the impact of the words we speak.

Language effects us emotionally, mentally, and ultimately physically.  It's the music of language that makes it so effective I think.

But this colloquial fad of referring to each other as "individuals" is a symptom of the rampant narcissism in America. It's robbing us of our dignity as well.

"What I want is the most important thing in the world right now and I'm going to get it."  Is the attitude of most Americans today.

This malaise is reflected in the existence of the Tea Party as well.  Holding victim assistance as hostage to their desire to slash governamnt spending is unconscionable, yet their constituents elected them to do that very thing.  Unless, of course, they're the ones need ing the assistance.  Case in point, Billy Long of Missouri. 

Representative Long is a freshman member of the House, and he represents the fast growing Tea Party movement in the United States.  His platform was reform.  Then the tornado struck.

Mr. Long instantly became a cheerleader for  FEMA. 

via NPR:

Billy Long is a Tea Party stalwart who ran for Congress as a man fed up with Washington.
Long won in a landslide and now represents Joplin, Mo., where he fired up a Tea Party crowd in April pretending to auction off the national debt.
Five weeks later, Long was back in Joplin, this time in the dark and rain, surveying the aftermath of an apocalyptic tornado. And this time, the federal government was his friend.
"FEMA called as soon as I got there and said, 'Congressman Long, we're on the way. We'll have boots on the ground in an hour or two,' " he says. "And I said, 'No you won't; they're already here.' "
What followed, Long says, has been a superb relief effort.
"The president came in, he was great. [Homeland Security Secretary] Janet Napolitano came in, she's been great," he says. "[House Minority] Leader Pelosi came up to me on the floor, hugged me and said, 'Billy, anything the people of Joplin need they'll have.' "
And that's just what they've gotten: FEMA has spent close to $100 million on the cleanup, and an additional $19 million plus on rent and home repairs. Napolitano was back in Joplin on Thursday, praising Joplin's "can-do attitude" and Long.
"He's worked well with our office, with our shop," she said. "When he was asked about FEMA, to rank it shortly after the fact, on a scale of 1 to 10, he said he'd give it a 12."
Doing It Locally
This kind of talk doesn't square with some of Long's constituents. Bloggers say he's "shredding his Tea Party stripes," drinking the "Potomac Kool-Aid." He's portrayed as just another politician bellying up to the trough.
Perhaps surprisingly, some of this grief for helping tornado-ravaged Joplin has come from ... Joplin.
"Joplin would be, some people would use the phrase, 'the buckle of the Bible Belt,' " says John Putnam, who leads a Tea Party group here. "It's very conservative. I think the bottom line for most of us is that we can do it locally."
Putnam says volunteers, local folks hit by the tornado and tens of thousands of people streaming in from across the country — many evangelical Christians with ties to Joplin's numerous churches — have done most of the work. But Putnam, unlike some in the blogosphere, is willing to give Long a pass.
"I think this is the system we operate under, and as long as we're under this system, it's fine for him to try to maximize FEMA's contribution," he says.
A Sense Of Priority
At a gas station just outside the destruction zone in Joplin, Ed Cryts, a local contractor, says he's grateful for the help and mightily impressed with FEMA, but not with the rest of the government.
"As far as helping people, FEMA has done a good job, but as far as what the people at the top are doing, I'm not too happy," he says.
Long insists the tornado hasn't altered his views, either.
"Budgeting is about priorities," he says, "and you certainly have to prioritize for situations like this."
Long says he's confident that whatever tough choices may have to be made, Uncle Sam's not going to skimp on helping people laid low by a natural disaster.
As for the government, there are still a lot of things Long aims to change, but it's less likely you'll hear him complaining any more about being "fed up."

A lesson in the need for dignity shouldn't be so hard.  But as has been said, "if history has taught us anything, it's that we learn nothing from history."

And so it goes.