Category Archives: Marriage

Looking Through Her Lens (My Thoughts on LEMONADE)

lemonade.gif

“In the perspective of every person lies a lens through which we may better understand ourselves”- Ellen Langer

So I know that you have already read a number of articles about Beyoncé and Lemonade and I am sorry to add to your list, but I guess I am sorry not sorry. Because I will tell you… it wasn’t easy to decide what to write about, there were several angles to come at this piece. I read several articles about this and that, about infidelity and Jay-Z, Black women empowerment, feminism and even that Beyoncé is no role model based on her lyrics (and there were some questionable lyrics), but I am sure they had some purpose, for HER. And this makes sense, as with a movie, a good book, or album, people can watch, read or listen to the exact same thing and walk away with a complete different interpretation. But let’s be clear the whole album is for Beyoncé, and certain parts are for our enjoyment.

I believe this is true for any real artist, and I am sure there are people who think Beyoncé is a manufactured robot whose sole purpose in life is to brainwash and make millions. But for the purpose of this post and my  satisfaction, I am writing from the viewpoint that Beyoncé is an artist and she paid top dollar for her writers to construct the lyrics to match her visual masterpiece that is LEMONADE. (I would say it’s not a masterpiece musically because just listening to the tracks it is not her best, but we can debate that at a later time.)

So as I sat down, I was trying to be polite with my thoughts, but I felt pretty strong about some comments and critiques such as the following, as tweeted by Azealia Bank’s herself.

Exhibit A – “You keep crying over a man and perpetuating that sad black female sufferance and it’s not good for what we’re trying to accomplish here”

Exhibit B – “You been singing about this n****a for years and he still playing you. That’s not strength, that’s stupidity”

tumblr_mzys8nfrxf1st18yzo1_400

Just stop.

Azealia’s tweets are coupled with several comments of sarcasm that I heard from others, such as “poor ole Beyoncé singing the blues”, “oh, her life must be so hard” –

Seriously?

Okay, look, no one is saying that Beyoncé’s life is hard, but does that mean she can’t talk about the issues that she is having with Jay-Z. Azealia’s tweets and those comments completely miss the complexity of the role of women in the 21st century. When you have to balance a husband, kids and a career. The reason more women, of all races and ages, loved it, is that Beyoncé struggled (and is struggling) with the same shit as we all do and she is the “baddest bitch in the game”. But her being the baddest doesn’t change the fact that a man can (and probably will) betray your trust whether it is infidelity or something monetary or when something equally intimate is taken for granted. There are so many ways to be betrayed.

The reality is that our families, especially our significant others or our companions, deeply influence our everyday life and it’s hard. So to invalidate her feminism “cred” because she opens up about her struggles with a lying (maybe cheating) husband is like the opposite of feminism.

We, as group of people, who support the political, social, and economic equality of women, cannot be upset or frustrated that Beyoncé felt betrayed and felt the need to make music about it. For centuries, women have had to fight with decision of staying or leaving, heck, probably a few millennia! I mean who could forget how Adam was quick to throw shade in the Garden of Eden because Eve gave him the piece of fruit that caused him to sin:

Then the man said, “The woman whom YOU gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” – Gensis 3:12

See, men have been making excuses since the beginning of time. That isn’t changing.

So as a 30 year old woman with friends at different stages of their romantic life: single, married for years, newlyweds, divorcees, and even windows, regardless of whether they are successful professionally, or kick ass mothers, their relationships are a priority, so why would it be different for Beyoncé? Not for one second, would I agree with the critiques about HOW anti-feministic it is that she is whining and crying about her husband cheating. I mean I guess she could be quiet, and be damned nonetheless like Hillary Clinton, who stayed extremely quiet about Bill’s infidelity and her struggles until recently during her campaign and people have always talked about her silence. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

The reality is not about whether Beyoncé is weak or not, but we are actually uncomfortable with the honestly of Beyoncé’s album. Even for people who liked and admired it. It makes us all a little uncomfortable, in this male dominated world, that Beyoncé felt that she:

  • could openly critique a man directly, who is as equally successful;
  • felt betrayed and stay; AND
  • told the world all about it.

I didn’t walk away from Beyoncé ‘s album with a sad black suffrage vibe, did you?  I kind of felt like it was more  along these lines:

Life is hard.

Love is hard.

Money, fame, and beauty doesn’t make life easier.

That is really what she is trying to say in between her anger. The first thing I really thought about when I finished the album, was whether it was therapeutic for her? Was it part of her healing and recovery? Not to mention a lyrical guide for all the other women who are dealing with similar issues in their marriages, maybe Beyoncé wanted to bring them some comfort to her struggles. To be silent no more, and talk about how crazy she felt about her situation.

But in reality, we just saw misery, the heartache was so appetizing, especially when it’s not our own, and let it be a celebrity. We were less concerned what it meant for Beyoncé and the fact that we should be happy that we got to witness it.

So you can think she has nothing to complain about, but I think it doesn’t matter how perfect we want life to be, it will never be, and when life is falling apart, you find out –  some people will revel in it, shame you for your life falling apart, and only  a few will support you in it. But you will have to walk through that journey step by step nevertheless. No one can escape it including Beyoncé .

In closing, if Beyoncé can’t talk about Feminism and she can’t talk about Black Lives Matter, what makes her unfit to talk about relationships? To often she is seen and not heard, and when she decided to share her voice candidly about her man, in a male-dominated world, it wasn’t just the men who had a problem. It was women speaking much louder as if we all don’t struggle with feeling appreciated, loved, and supported. Even the BEST man will let you down at least once. Because we are human, and no one is perfect. So stop acting like you didn’t see a little of yourself through Beyoncé’s lens.

Stop trying to brush the shame under the rug. Embrace it, and move on.

M/P

Who Am I? (The Monday Fits)

Who-are-you-Harry-Potter-GIF

“Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armour yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.”

― George R.R. Martin


The first Republican debate of this primary election season is over and it was quite a treat. There have been plenty of commentary, memes, and discussion about it. When I asked Republicans how they felt about the debate, it was a mix between a fair analyses of the issues discussed mixed with the blanket, “It was awesome”. Really? Is that all you have to say about a debate that was filled with positive and negatives, is that it was awesome? When I asked some Democrats about the debate, almost every single one just called it awful and exclaimed there were no real issues discussed. And this is when I became utterly annoyed.

Everything about the debate wasn’t awful. But after I took a step back, and thought about it, if it was a democratic primary debate, the responses would probably be the same, but reversed.  A few democrats would really decipher through what was discussed, others would just love everything about the damn debate, and  then the opposition, Republicans, would hate just about everything that was discussed. This is our reality, and it’s kind of disgusting. We are so easily tied to a group of people, and I just sit back and wonder, do people take a minute to sit back and think about who they really are? What really matters?

So I am kind of a joiner, my friends would like to call me. I have joined a number of organizations in my life time, including a sorority. And if you don’t know about sororities they often have a reputation and most of the women (or fraternity for men) kind of fit into a certain category.  And once you’re in one of those, you realize that reputation is true for some women and others are striving oh so hard to be that stereotypical reputation for whatever reason,  I do not know. But overall, I have come to learn to that we, yes, us humans, like to be a part of things that define us even if you are in the “anti” crowd. Well, if you’re like me, I don’t let my affiliations define me. It hasn’t always been that way, I by no means am perfect, but if you are like me,  and don’t let your affiliations define you, you’re probably as frustrated with America as am I. I don’t consider myself a rebel by any means, but I definitely do not like to be put into a box. But I do think the majority of us like to be put into a box, it makes us feel all good and shiny on the inside. And let’s just assume shiny is a positive word.

Republicans and Democrats alike live in their little box loving their narrow minded view. I heard one candidate from the debate say a little something out of the box, but I don’t think people were really listening. Governor Kasich, maybe I am a little naïve to the marriage question. (That’s right, it’s no longer called same-sex marriage, it’s just called marriage in the U.S.A., but I won’t digress on that topic). He said that although he believes in traditional marriage, he recently attended a friends marriage (who happened to marry the same-sex), and he was there to celebrated love. While there were democrats who doubted his sincerity, what Kasich said isn’t accepted by the majority of either party. Most Republicans (minus us forward thinking Millennials) feel that you cannot believe in traditional marriage and support same-sex marriage in any capacity.  Most democrats (minus conservative thinking liberals) that you can support same-sex marriage unless you believe people are born that way. Now let me tell you something, that’s just stupid. What’s the point of having America with different religions, viewpoints, and perspectives, if people can’t, I don’t know, have them.  What’s crazier than a Black Female Republican, is a Republican Muslim. I don’t know about you, but I stopped in the middle of the debate, and asked “Is there separation of church and state anymore or did I miss the memo?, well you couldn’t tell in the debate. It might as well have been moderated by Franklin Graham.

Now, I might not sound like a conservative, but I am kind of angry, out of all of these issues that we are talking about, people are failing to discuss that major problem in this country. Poverty. Wealth Inequality, and if you want to invoke the name of Jesus Christ, look in the bible and how many times does he mention, or the bible in general squarely, boldly, and PLAINLY talk about helping the poor, it beats every other f*cking political topic every single time. Like EVERY SINGLE time. I am not one to be hypocritical, some one’s beliefs does matter to me. But if we are going to invoke all of this spiritual-ness into our political world, then we should be more honest about it and not simply serving our purpose cause that’s what this is all really about. People are saying and doing what they want to for whatever purpose they need.

Since I am talking about fitting into roles, I want to talk about Ben Carson comments about race and the reason he is in error. I am glad that he looks past the color of people’s skin, I do too. But to imply that for some reason black people are the reason we are in a race war, is an  insult to every black person in America. Sound extreme?

Since the recent deaths of young black men and women, oh wait, let me rephrase, unarmed black men and women, I had to evaluate whether I was out of touch, I am sure I have friends who are surprised by recent  interest in race, but there is ONE reality, when I walk out this house and am on the street, no one cares if I am a conservative, that I never have broken a law or committed a crime, never smoked or done any illicit drugs in my life, never had an abortion, or anything that else that makes me “good”. But I know if I go in the wrong part of a small town or make the wrong move, the only thing that will matter is my blackness. Luckily, Ben Carson doesn’t have to experience this fear as a neurosurgeon that most black Americans do. He wants to be so accepted by the Republican Party so bad that he is willing to sacrifice the reality for so many people who actually look and talk just like him. To some extent he was right, we don’t NEED to get into a race war, cause we are already in one. But it’s okay Ben Carson is being used by the people who support this ideology. Ben Carson finished 3rd in the debate based on some polling.  Many Republicans commentators are surprised, because he didn’t get to say much. Well, that’s because he’s portraying a false reality in America that people want to cling so hard to. The reality is people are  STILL being  judged by the color of the skin, and Ben Carson can deny this reality to try to win an election. Instead of doing the right thing.

I might not know exactly who I am, because I am still growing, still changing, and trying to be better each and every day. But I know who I am not, who I will never be. I don’t have time to make decisions to fit into a mold, even if I make mistakes, it will be my mistake and I will own it every time, and it will be worth it. So let me rephrase that, I know exactly who I am, and I hope it only it gets better. More real, and less fake and hypocritical, day by day.

Sweet Home Alabama: The Litmus Test of America

tumblr_lyose504mg1r8al2do1_500

“If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey, he’s obligated to do so” – Thomas Jefferson

Since the story broke about the same-sex marriage fiasco in Alabama, my mind has been kind of in a frenzy. The story infuriates me on so many levels that I see red. I mean in 2015, the fact there were judges who were trying to justify not following the law because of personally held beliefs, knowing what all lawyers know, including myself, before you walk into your first law class:  a federal judge always trumps the almighty State Supreme Court Chief Justice on any given day of the week, until a higher authority tell the courts otherwise.

(ICYMI:  On January 23, 2015, a federal judge in Mobile struck down Alabama’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Then on February 10, 2015, the Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice instructed probate judges they didn’t have to follow the Federal Judges order.)

I would like to say as a lawyer, and a conservative, and a millennial. This action was wrong. It was wrong on so many levels. Not because I want to sit here and argue whether or same-sex marriage is right or wrong, I am not an advocate nor a critic,  but because a Federal court judge ruled as such, especially after the Supreme Court’s decision to not temporarily block the Federal Judge’s decision, and I’m not the only one.  “Judge Enslen, a lawyer for more than 40 years and a Republican, said he disagreed with the Supreme Court’s action but had to be guided by it. “Those seven justices went out of their way to slap Alabama,” he said, sending a message that they saw little chance of Judge Granade’s decision being reversed. “We’ve got the highest federal court siding with the District Court,” he said. “The ballgame’s over.” (source)

Many conservatives see it as the Federal court is budding in on a state’s issue, and that the state has clearly declared it as a constitutional amendment…. in 2006. Since 2006, the support of same-sex marriage has drastically changed across America, even in Alabama. In 2006, when the constitutional amendment passed, only 39% of people supported same-sex marriage nationally… let’s forward to 2014 people.

Gay Marriage Polls Support Oppose Undecided
Princeton Survey Research Associates/Pew Research Center  (2006) 39% 51% 10%
Pew Research Center (2014) 49% 41% 10%
Gallup poll (2014) 55% 42% 4%
Family Research Council (2014) 55% 39% 6%

(Source)

So things ARE changing, yet it doesn’t quite seem that way with the headlines in Alabama, or is it what they want us to believe? In my opinion, which I rarely give in my posts, we need to start having real conversations about the opposition to same-sex marriage, and not let the actions of a few people foolishly speak for the masses.  I started this blog to talk about things that nobody wants to talk about, but as I started blogging, it came very apparent why that is. If you start monitoring your viewer ratings you know what people want to read about, and the things they could care less about. So as a writer, you have to decide to be true to yourself or true to success…. and today, I choose the former.

Why is the refusal to issue marriage licenses so frustrating to me, because many conservatives cannot add to the conversation in a meaningful way. It is all or nothing.

Conservatives are not able to talk about gay rights, because for many, not all, any deviation from total utter and complete rejection of same-sex marriage, you will be going down the road of political suicide. Many younger conservatives, like myself, wish the older people in the party would just jump off a cliff (figuratively not literally) for a whole slew of reasons. But unfortunately, despite the uptick in voting among young people, older generations overwhelmingly outnumber us at the voting booths. (45% of ages 18-29 voting, 59.5 % of ages 30 – 44 voting, 72.0 % of ages 45 – 64 voting, and 67.9 % of ages 65 and older? (Source).

But if you looking at the national polling, even in good ole’ backward leaning Alabama, the numbers are still telling, “ 48 percent of Alabamians under 35 favor gay marriage—not a majority, but a plurality. (Only 21 percent of those older than 65 do.) The strongest predictor for supporting gay marriage nationwide, according to some experts, is having close gay friends, which is far more common among younger Americans.” (Source)

Maybe that’s why the first couple married, was from my Alma mater, Tuskegee University. Heck, even the Koch brothers support same-sex marriage. (If you believe them, they just think the economy is a more important issue, so they support candidates who oppose same-sex marriage).

So Thomas Jefferson is correct, if a law is unjust, you should not be required to follow it. Laws that have allowed same-sex marriage are not unjust. You do not have to agree with same-sex marriage for it to happen where you live. You do not have to support it, and if you feel like your salvation is doomed, because America is conducting same-sex marriage, maybe you should move out of America. Because imagine an America where some states allow same-sex marriage, and others do not allow same-sex marriage, oh wait, that is what we are living in now; a divided America. Will companies begin to move their offices based on marriage equality? Will people have to pick which state to live based on marriage equality?

America was built on certain freedoms, including the freedom of religion, not just your religion, or one religion. People ask how do I merge the two as a conservative. It’s not about what I believe. You might not see me out a gay pride parade, but I sure as heck ain’t not damning nobody to hell, or saying the wrath of God is going to come out against the State of Alabama now. (Thanks Alabama GOP chair for that one, you’re ridiculous). It’s about equality, and treating people as human beings.

I have worked in civil rights ever since I left law school, and over the years I have thought long and hard about the subject of same-sex marriage. While in law school, it was something that we debated all the time, because we have a friend who was gay, and another friend, who was much more staunchly a conservative than myself.  But at that time, I still hadn’t made it to the point where I am today. I was fortunate for a couple of years to work at a  Human Rights Commission in a small Indiana community to work very closely with the a couple of the gay rights organization there. They made this video that discussed growing up in that community being gay in a very conservative state and at times, the city.   Never had I heard such gut wrenching moments, and stories of triumph even remotely close to those of Blacks during the Jim Crow era. Or maybe I had never taken the time to listen. Hearing their struggles had a definite impact on me, and not because it changed my personal beliefs, but I realized in that moment, it is not up to me to judge or decide, and I have to be more than just “tolerant”. Nobody wants to be just tolerated.

Whether you do or you don’t believe in same-sex marriage, the right for them to marry is not to be based on your personal beliefs, if it is the law as according to the people of this country. Minds and thoughts are changing progressively towards same-sex marriage, what are you going to do when it happens?

M/P

 

Matthew 22: 15 – 22 (NKJV)

Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him (Jesus) in His talk. And they sent to Him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth; nor do You care about anyone, for You do not regard the person of men. Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”

But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, “Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? Show Me the tax money.”

So they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” They said to Him, “Caesar’s.”And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left Him and went their way.

The Monday Fits: Episode 5

What I am about to say may be coming from left field, and I may be totally out of the ballpark, but I just have a bone to pick and mostly with my fellow ladies. I wrote about Bill Cosby about 4 weeks ago, (click: here ), at the time, the allegations against Mr. Cosby felt like pure speculation.  But one thing that always puzzles me is when people say, “If the allegations were true,  they would have come forward sooner?”

are-you-kidding-me-teresa-giudice

If you read the allegations, the details were so similar and particular to the point, why would someone make this up, but I understand, if they were true, why they wouldn’t come forward.  Bill Cosby would either have not be prosecuted or based on the details, any jury probably would have returned a not guilty verdict. The details surrounding being drugged adds a certain  fuzziness to the story that can’t be overcome. Therefore, it makes sense why some of these women did not come forward during the statute of limitations. Why accuse Bill Cosby when there’s not enough evidence to prove it, because they would be treated the exact same way they are being treated right now! Earl Ofari Hutchinson from the Huffington post summarizes this point well, “Cosby is the classic textbook example of how men who are alleged to commit rape routinely get away with it. Contrary to the non-stop slanders of his accusers, some did go to the police, attorneys, and their agents at the time he allegedly victimized them. But they quickly ran up against the wall of suspicion, indifference, and flat-out contempt and blame. Decades later when they again came forth little had changed. They have been hit with the same wall of suspicion, ridicule, snickers, and even wisecracks about their motives and morals.” (source)See, so don’t give me the, “since they didn’t come out immediately” it is not true. Most people would not believe them whenever they came out, before and now.

Now, I am a huge Bill Cosby fan, so a part of me still wants to believe this is all a dream. As the weeks have past, there has been more allegations, questionable information, and with Cosby’s silence, it makes it harder and harder for people, for me, to view Mr. Cosby in such a favorable light while others have a blind allegiance to him; and that’s my problem. We expect too much out of people who get paid to act, and in all fairness, to be a LIARs of sorts. Bill Cosby is not Cliff Huxtable, whether the allegations are true or not true, the character he played should not dictate real life. There is a part of us that believes, how could a man play such a wonderful family man, and not believe in the ideals, or he himself, be a family man. Give.me. a. break.people.

As that’s the problem I have with some of the responses by women and their defense of Bill Cosby and the condemnation of the women accusers. Just two years ago, we had a bunch of politicians, who were ALL men, who wrongfully talked about rape in very public settings, and each one of their political races ended tumultuously, because at the end of the day, they were talking about something they knew very little about, and were quick to make statements and give judgements about a very fragile topic thats happens to both men and women, but disproportionately to us ladies.

So for my ladies, I have been disappointed. I’ve read a lot of posts, that say, “You all still support Bill Clinton” , SNL jokingly compared him to “Kramer” (not funny, SNL), I even had someone from my alma mater, Tuskegee University go as far to defend Cosby by comparing the situation of the Founder of Tuskegee, Booker T. Washington, who was suspected to have died with a venereal disease among other suspicious actions. The comparison indicated do we think any less of Booker T, because of this information? Now, I am going to say this once:

Men who cheat, are sexually promiscuous, solicit prostitutes, womanizers, even chauvinistic pigs aren’t rapists. Rape is serious, and when men are so casual about it, it’s one thing, but it’s not okay when fellow women are so quick to brush it aside, and blame the female.  This is my opinion the true WAR ON WOMEN, we are fighting ourselves. ( I understand men are raped as well, but for the purposes of this post I’m talking to women). When I wrote my article previously, I would compare Bill Cosby ( if the allegations were true) to R-Kelly and Jerry Sandusky. We are talking about rape and it’s so much more serious, and then just a man who can’t keep “it” in his pants or only in his wife. I have no doubt that Bill Clinton might have preyed on Monica Lewinsky, but ultimately she made the hard choice many young women face, but she wasn’t forced. Paula Jones, say her allegations are all true, and Bill propositioned and exposed himself, she did walk out traumatized, I’m sure,  but he didn’t force himself on her and rape her.

So what do I think should happen when women hear about a woman who cries rape from a celebrity, just do nothing. You can love your celebrity or sports star without foolishly condemning a women if the situation were true or false, the reality is that there is a possibility she experienced something very traumatic that you hope you never have to experience. Why do women always support the man in a situation is our problem. It is why thousands of young girls, across the country continue to be raped on our college campuses, and the young men are going away scott free.

I look at the two sport stars in Kobe Bryant and Ben Roethlisberger. My bias in reading the allegations, I am more inclined to believe the allegations that were made against Ben are true, than Kobe Bryant. But when Kobe’s trial was going on would I have thought to bash the women victim, no, I just don’t get it. We talk about wanting to break glass ceilings, and people say we need to learn how to “Lean In”, maybe we’re having trouble, because we have a cowardice about ourselves. That somewhere in our psyche, we place men on pedestals who don’t deserve them. Of course the women who cries rape must be a promiscuous, money grabbing whore, versus being at the wrong place, at the wrong time. Why can we not think more  of ourselves. In each women accuser, I look inside and think what if it was me, before I immediately bash, maybe you should try it too.

Now Bill Clinton was accused of raping at least one young lady, during his early days as the Attorney General, and settled the case out of court.  Bill Cosby has been accused of rape 13 times, and still refuses to speak on it. Until he is man enough to come out, defend himself and deny the allegations, I would never call any of the accusers liars, because as a women they have exhibited a courage that I hope I never have to experience. Yet, many of the women have done just that, and they wonder why feminism still needs to exist, we  view ourselves as the weaker sex, and I have a problem with that.

 

 

Capitalism Needs A Hit of Community

uschit

This past weekend I was at a restaurant and I overheard a couple young kids, maybe in their early twenties, talking about marriage, or rather talking about looking forward to their second marriage, because the first marriage was just practice. And one specifically, who sounded as if he was going to the military after college, because he just knew his first marriage wouldn’t work, because they never do in the military.

I wish I were exaggerating, just a little bit, but I am not. As I listened, I was first annoyed, saddened, and then quite angry for so many reasons. I quickly jotted down what they said, and added a few comments of my own and thought, “this is what this week’s blog is going to be about: marriage.” That’s usually how I pick my topics, something usually happens during the week that sparks my interest, I do a little research, form my opinion, and then I write, write, write.

But then I sat down to write, and with the election around the corner, I thought I should be focusing along those lines, and all the other issues that seemed more important than marriage, traditional marriage, marriage equality; such as the economy, racism (civil rights), healthcare, terrorism, and all the other topics that  are in the forefront of our minds. As I sat down to write, something was still tugging at my heart, about the disregard of marriage. There are so many people who are still fighting for marriage equality, others fighting to maintain traditional marriage, and the statistics surrounding divorce are truly depressing. Why is that? What can we do? And then I realized, all of the issues today, including marriage point to at least one thing that is lacking … community (a sense of family). How did we get here? Capitalism. Yes, Capitalism. Is Capitalism bad, Nope. I would just argue that Capitalism just needs a HIT of Community….

In 2012, David Brooks, a conservative political and cultural commentator from the New York Times, made the assertion that the idea of capitalism “is a problem for the American family because it reinforces self-interest” over other social ethos of the family. (Source). And I would tend to agree, and argue that it seeps into other parts of our lives besides just the family. It applies to almost every issue in America, overwhelming self-interest is hurting America. When we specifically look at marriage, the marriage rate is 6.8 per 1,000 people and the Divorce rate is 3.6 per 1,000 people, which is why they say that 50 % of marriages end in divorce. (Source). The researchers say those statistics are misleading for several reasons that I won’t go into today. But no one would disagree that there are a lot of divorces. And although infidelity is rampant, the number one reason people still get divorce is  finances and money. And if we look beyond marriage, capitalism is creating a crippling economy as the wealth disparity grows and the middle class continues to shrink, especially with rising healthcare costs,  and educational opportunity is different depending on what side of town you were born in. Not to mention all of these things are the main cause of the growing strain of race relations in America.

So, What do I mean? Capitalism at it’s most basic level is to allow trade and industry to be controlled by private owners for profit rather than the government. This is a good thing, because when governmental regulations are too stringent it hurts growth and the economy. But at the same time, when the private owners are such a select few, capitalism can hurt the economy for the whole, and not the select few.

I am in no means saying that we should utilize another system besides capitalism. I like capitalism, especially at its core. When describing Ayn Rand’s political philosophy, a fan of laissez-faire capitalism, a scholar described it as, “Her basic theme was that free people, acting together voluntarily, produce greater general prosperity than central planners wielding the whips of State power”. (Source). The key word in that is “greater general propensity”; the problem is that prosperity cannot only be defined in monetary terms. Prosperity includes security, comfort, and well-being. Nowhere in the definition of capitalism or free-market economy  is the focus supposed to be so heavily focused on self-interest; see the simplest form of capitalism does not exclude community, but we’ve created that environment.

When you have a capitalistic society that is not in touch with community then you cannot expect the country to be successful as a whole, and we should be concerned. There will be plenty of people who are successful, who have no worries. Why is this a problem? People who you really start from the bottom, need a village to help raise them. Not only are they born without enough resources, but often lack the social and human capital to compete with others who face few challenges.  If we don’t help those children, no wonder they become delinquents in our justice system, dependent of benefits from the state, etc.

There are a lot of people who lament against food stamps, Medicaid, and any other “handouts” given out with the backdrop of a low minimum wage. While an increased minimum wage would hurt some small companies, let’s tier the minimum wage based on profit and size of the company, or any other factors that would make sense. I would argue that the mom and pop stores shouldn’t have to pay the same minimum wage as Wal-Mart. But it does not make sense for executives of Wal-Mart to live in an extreme excess and their employees struggle to try to obtain their American success story. There’s come a point that making the highest profit isn’t the MOST important thing and the market may not be calling for it. This is why we need more community in capitalism. We want businesses and the economy to continue to grow and be prosperous, but not if it’s hurting a large number of the population. If we care about the success of America, taking a couple of million dollars away from the richest parts of America, to decrease the wealth disparity,couldn’t be the worst thing ever.  But the thing about capitalism, which is why it’s awesome, the private actors have to decide to take this action for themselves.  Just like the CEO of Starbucks, creating a partnership with Arizona State University to make it a little easier for their employee to reach educational advancement.

This can be seen very openly in our political voting system. The wealthiest Americans are attempting to buy elections on both sides, donating large amounts of cash that have potential to change elections. Despite, the large amounts of money being poured into elections it doesn’t necessarily create more involvement in the voting process, and to some extent probably decreases it. But do you know where people come out in high percentages? In places with high sense of community.

There are 6 states that have high voter participation compared to the rest of the population, and three out of those six states, including the state with the best record (Minnesota), all cite a sense of community as a part of why they are successful in getting to the polls. In South Dakota, they have a 60. 2% voter participation rate and say that “South Dakota is part of the collection of Upper Midwest states where a strong sense of community, civic duty, and civility in political discussion are abundant”. (source).  In Wisconsin, with a 60.93 % voter participation rate, they say, “People want to live up to the expectation for themselves or community norms,” says Michael Slater of Project Vote. “They think, ‘voting is what we do in this community.’” (source) . And last, but not least, is Minnesota, which has a 68 % voter participation rate, they say, “Minnesotans do love this place we call home, It’s our responsibility to take care of this place, and voting is one of the ways we do that.” (source) . Although there are a few other factors, such as competitive races, access to the polls, the community is a large reason that they are able to have such high voter turnout and we all should strive to duplicate this effort in other communities.

I have said a lot here, and even included the infamous Ayn Rand, who would probably disagree with most of what I said. She has a famous quote that says “Capitalism and Altruism care incompatible … they are philosophical opposites; they cannot co-exist in the same man or in the same society”, and I would actually agree with her.  Altruism is taking it too far, were not asking for an absolute selfless concern for the well-being of others. But I do think we need to take a look in the mirror, and wonder if we’ve turned capitalism into something so selfish it is bad, when its not…. we all need a little community in our life.

M/P


Have thoughts? Please comment and start a discussion with me. I love to hear other perspectives!