Confessions of a Self Proclaimed Heathen

This is something of a cathartic writing exercise, so please bare with me: (I apologize ahead of time, as this is indeed long, but my brain has been churning in overtime in recent days.)

There are those who like to engage in what I consider to be ‘class warfare’. Some are blunt with their ideologies, some hide behind other ‘issues’. I have lived this first hand, as I am indeed one who has been accused of many, many things. (as I’m sure all my friends can say.) The one thing I find tough to passively ignore is the ‘class warfare’ ideology. It is, at least to me, particularly hurtful.
I have indeed had what many, including myself, consider to be a ‘charmed’ life. (I REFUSE to say a ‘blessed’ life, because that term is indeed so condescending…..a method of elevating myself above others in this life, and I cannot do that. However, it is very, very clear to me that I am ‘sandwiched’ in between two clear groups: those whose families have much, much more, and those whose families have had much, much less. This is not always an easy place to be in socially, and here is the reasons why:
Often, those of the Blue Blood/Old Money strata do not always understand the way of life of those who function ‘without’. It is difficult, if not truly impossible, for those who have had financial comfort for their entire lives to divorce themselves from their own life-situation. They do not know first hand what it means to cash in accumulated pennies, dimes and nickels in order to buy a loaf of bread and bologna. I do not hold them in contempt for being ‘charmed’ inside of their own lives. I merely ask them to try to consider walking in someone else’s moccasins; I do not wish such an existence on anyone, and I am able to be truly glad for those who have never had to live like this. Poverty is like bad health: no matter who or what one is, either one of these issues have deep, long lasting effects on the well being of an individual, and compassion on them is what matters. We can have money, but still care what happens to those that we share this world with. A negative side is that I have in fact been belittled for not belonging to the Blue Blood Club. I once has someone ask me directly if I bummed off the government via welfare and food stamps, because I did not ‘fit’ inside the mold of an Upper Classman, born into the Billionaires’ Club, that invariably, ALWAYS, voted Republican. My active membership card status in the Democratic Party, along with my lack of Billionaire Status, apparently was enough for that person to decide I was a Welfare Queen – simply because I do NOT forget about those in financial dire straits.
Now, allow me to ‘cross the street’ with you. It is abundantly clear that there are those who have the misconception that me and my family are a part of the Billionaires’ Club, thus I MUST be ‘taught a lesson about the Have-Nots’ Unbeknownst to myself, it would seem my family has had the Big Bucks since the first morning broke in the Garden of Eden. Thus, I am indeed one of the Jack Asses of whom I just spoke of, viewing poor people as bad and unworthy. The inaccuracies of this are almost laughable. Allow me to say this: during ante-bellum times, multiple branches of my family WERE well to do, being a part of the Agricultural Elite of Plantation Life. However, that came to an end with my great-great grandparents. That generation, inside the context of my own family, was the generation that fought for the Confederacy. And lost. They did not just loose the War. They lost EVERYTHING. I will not get into a debate about whether they ‘deserved it’…….those who know me know where I stand on human beings peddling other human beings. That is not the issue at hand. The issue at hand is the financial meltdown that occurred to every single branch of my family. My parents were born in abject poverty, as were all of my grandparents, all of my great-grandparents; my great-great grandparents had wealth, then in a lightening flash, had NOTHING. Yet, one thing I can be proud of: people in my family learned a good lesson, and that lesson is the value of self reliance, and pulling themselves up out of the dirt. Yes, it’s difficult. A great uncle of mine worked his way through UT-Knoxville, and went on to be the owner/operator of a successful trucking company out of Cookeville, TN. Both of my parents left home for Nashville for the sake of getting educated. No, they did not have their educations handed to them on a silver platter…..they worked their way through, as well. Dad graduated from Medical School in debt from student loans, but thankfully, in 1960, the ideal of student loans were not the ‘loan shark racket’ that it is today. So many in the past 3-4 generations of my family started out with little or nothing, yet by the sweat of their own brow, have gotten out of their own version of poverty and have done good things with their lives. And successfully. My parents are somewhat in the minority, it seems…….they were and are a success story, not only through educational and some monetary gain, but through being what I consider the very definition of what Christ came to do: healing, feeding, and caring for and about those who truly need help.
Moving forward to myself, I have worked with for-profit companies, and became miserable. Quickly. I made more money then than I do now. However, where I am today, working for a humanitarian/non-profit, I am the happiest I’ve been in my working life in YEARS. My checkbook might disagree, but ‘having it all’ does not always include what our checkbook says. It’s tough, but it is a GOOD tough.
I’m imperfect, and yes, I crown myself Queen of the Southern Heathens. I am my father’s daughter….and my Grandfather Bradley’s Grand-daughter. The cloth we are cut from is indeed an oddity. I am a stubborn one, with a morbid sense of humor that only a few seem to understand. However, I also believe in the Human Race. Everyone has a thing to offer. So, in spite of the criticism I’ve received, both valid and invalid, I choose not to make this life simply about me and what I want, and what I ‘think’ I’m due. There is so much more to this life than ‘me and mine’. I am a drop in that bucket. My concern is trying to make it a better world, if at all possible.
Thus endeth this October Sunday lesson. Now, go out and play in the leaves.


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