The Complacent Liberal

I worked in business for 20 years.

Safely ensconced at a desk job,I brought my half of the income home and managed that, along with my husband’s half, into a comfortable life.

We recycled twice a week, took our vitamins, joined the health club, and didn’t use pesticides on our garden. We bought organic t-shirts and broccoli, I drove a Subaru wagon, and we tried to raise our son to be kind and compassionate to everyone.

I was a James Taylor Democratic voting environmentally concerned feminist.

I was a complacent liberal.

Oh how many times I said There for the grace of God go I when watching the news or listening to NPR, though I hadn’t been to a church in years. Comfortably I was tucked into a life that gave me the opportunity to donate to causes within my county and city. Then, I purchased a small business, and made sure we always selected the most caring community supported causes to be a part of. I watched closely as a percentage my income went to do the right thing as often as possible, and resting my head each night I knew I was fighting the good fight.

But life changes, and sometimes so fast you can’t comprehend the speed at which it races up to your threshold. Suddenly it’s no longer you life.

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But it is, isn’t it?

I was no longer comfortable. My marriage ended, my home was gone, and my business was forced to take a hiatus. I no longer had a car, an income, or walls with my name on them to keep the wind off my back. I was suddenly working a minimum wage job to try to keep the mounting debt from crushing me. I didn’t have health care.  I frequently didn’t have food. I had to rely on friends to give me solace when they could, but mostly I slept on the floor of the business I was trying to rebuild. I applied and received food stamps for three months, and I stood in line for food being handed out two cities from where I lived. I was humbled and embarrassed. I had become everything and everyone I had voted and donated to help.

I walked to worked four mornings a week at 2:30 a.m. for a ten-hour shift in a deli.  The hike took me two blocks, past the invisible small town homeless that no one thought existed. I strolled past the Arlington, the apartments where $200 a month buys you a room. Many of the residents stood outside during those early mornings smoking what they had. I was the lady on her way to the deli to make donuts. No one bothered me. We were all in a club. There was no secret handshake, you just kept your head down and your voice low.

There isn’t a fiscal cliff I’m afraid to fall from, I’ve already spread my wings and jumped onto the undercurrent.

I am not complacent anymore.

So here’s what I know: I know without a doubt, there is God, but I’m not always sure about grace.

I know that no matter how low you get, you need to keep your heart open.

I know that forgiveness is important, but forgetting, well, that may very well be for assholes.

I know that as caring concerned women and men, we must NEVER become complacent with our lives, or the lives of our brothers and sisters. I hope there is a heaven, but I can’t work and pray only on the promise of seeing my loved ones in the afterlife.  I have to make things better while I’m alive. Here and now is what I have, and there has to be more than just writing a check and buying a present for a child at Christmas off the gift tree at the bank.

I’m excited and happy looking towards this new year. Of course, I am hopeful that my own situation will improve, but my other hope is that this smug, self-righteous attitude of so many of the liberals and progressives in our country subsides. It’s time for complacency to drain from all of our mindsets, and we have to realize that if we are really going to feed and keep each other safe we have a lot of work to do. It’s up to our leaders, but it’s also up to each one of us.

I promise you this, I will never be complacent again. It’s time to get my hands dirty. I don’t know what I’m going to do yet, but it’s going to be one hell of a journey trying to figure it out.

Here is my plea for all of you in 2013: become passionate about something.Let your heart and mind become one, and try to think and feel about what needs to be made better in your community. Look around, see what your world needs, and then try to fill the void.

Find humor. Find joy. Find peace.

Because there for the grace of God.

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