I love teachers! There’s nothing objective in that statement. I have teacher friends, teacher loved ones and teacher relatives.
Next to teachers, I love firefighters and police officers. I love knowing if my house is on fire, a selfless volunteer will rush into a burning building to save me. I love knowing if a criminal harasses me, a brave police officer will confront him. And I appreciate knowing our teachers will not only nurture and educate our youngsters, they will place their own bodies in front of a bullet when the next lunatic attacks our schools. So I find all this bashing amazing.
In the 1970s and 1980s, it was fashionable to bash the country’s automobile and steelworkers. We were the people everyone loved to hate. We were the bane of society, the root of inflation and the underlying cause of all that was wrong with the American labor force. We were the slovenly, lazy, uneducated and overpaid no-accounts driving up the cost of cars and earning more than we deserved.
In reality, we were just average people, enjoying a middle-class living, striving for a better life for our children, hoping to send them to college and to give them a small part of that American Dream we all once believed in. The automobile plant my husband worked in was filled with others who were just like us – hardworking, hardscrabble men who supported their families, each other and this country. They gave generously to charity and to one another. Not one of them was rich.
I consider our family a microcosm of our country. We can relate to a lot of people. We were born in the 1940s as World War II was coming to a close. My father and our grandparents were Italian immigrants who came here for a better life. Our neighbor once told me her father would kill her if she dated an Italian. Our peer group participated in the race riots of the 1960s, and today our grandchildren have a United Nations of friends.
My husband served in the U.S. Navy during the Cuban Missile Crisis. We raised two children, one of whom is disabled. We have worked in management, production, union and non-union positions. We have been downsized and outsourced three times, as our government eased the way for U.S. corporations to go offshore.
We started over repeatedly, watched as our bank account became depleted and fed a family of four on $30 a week while people danced on our grave, happy to see our wages slashed and our jobs disappear, unaware this was only the beginning of the bleeding.
Today we are senior citizens, dealing with all of the ailments that accompany old age and wondering how long our pension will last as insiders tamper with the stock market. So I get it. I get that life is tough. I get being afraid, worried and resentful. But I don’t get all this bashing of the very people we expect to protect us and our children. I don’t get asking them to give up crucial benefits or hard-earned wages that support a family so that Johnny can play soccer. We are mad at the wrong people.
I once heard an NPR broadcast about a small farming town in Russia in which all of the people were starving because there were no jobs or food. Just one farmer owned the sole remaining milk cow for his family. In a fit of rage, the townspeople killed the cow. Now everyone would starve. That’s some solution!