A Rant, Some Feedback, and Me

I’m in the elderly category, have Parkinson’s and CKD, and, due to coronavirus, have been in deep isolation for over nine months. In an attempt to inject a little humor in people’s lives, I have been sending out daily cartoons and one liners found on the internet to a large list of friends and acquaintances. One day recently, based on my rising levels of depression and despair over our current environment, I added a rant about isolation, violence, racism, marginalization, etc. I covered it all. Suffice it to say I was a poor version of Howard Beale in the movie Network and the famous quote "I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!" I’m not writing here to repeat my comments but to talk about and honor the feedback I received.

I received a lot more feedback in the form of email texts and phone calls than I expected. Usually, people just mentally shrug and move on when they read or hear content that is uncomfortable, disturbing or not in line with their own thoughts and beliefs.

A rant and feedback

The following are some takeaways of my feedback:

  • almost all who responded seemed genuinely concerned about me and the level despair in my writing
  • most who responded voiced similar levels of frustration if not varying opinions about our current situation
  • most offered support based on their own religious values and beliefs
  • some felt I should have included possible solutions along with my woe is me story
  • the thoughts of all make me feel less alone and definitely better

Some specific feedback thoughts are still echoing in my mind and are a source of introspection.

- “Suck it up! How old are you?”

I didn't realize I’d copied to my parents or is that thought in permanent residence? Who said that? Rather blunt and does remind me of my youth. How does one get through a bad situation? Action! But what action?

-“...I too believe it has a lot to do with lack of honest leadership in our great nation, but I see the finger pointing back to me, for many times over the years I have remained silent when I should have spoken up, or failed to get involved when I could have made a difference. Multiply my lack of resolve by a few millions and what have you got?”

Wow, like a blow to the gut but it fits me to a T. I have often not spoken up or not acted when I should have. Those who know me are probably laughing at the thought of me keeping silent, but it’s true. I resolve to be more involved than I have in the past. Easy to say, but how do I make myself do it: Do not be the silent voice after the meeting or opportunity is over. Speak concisely and with respect. A discussion is called for and not an argument. If the action or words are in conflict with what you believe, say so.

-“One of the most disturbing things to me is that discussions about the marginal members of society usually mention the poor (I'm not - thank goodness for IRAs and the bull market of the past couple of decades), the black (not), the brown (not), the elderly (I don't like admitting I am, but ... ), and the handicapped (I REALLY don't like admitting this). So discussions about social safety nets and politics are no longer abstract, but often concern me directly. And since I may have an axe to grind (being a member of the aforementioned groups), I feel reluctant to express my thoughts and opinions.”

Another direct hit. Admitting you’re old and/ or handicapped and part of a group that is becoming more and more marginalized is something I’ve avoided considering or thinking about or have successfully compartmentalized. No one seems to take in the real consequences of being marginalized due to your race, socio economic standing, gender, religion or lack there of, age, or being handicapped. All of the above, combinations and singular. My friend and I are not entering a game of which group is worse treated or more marginalized. Our singular thought is we did not expect our “Golden Years” would be interrupted by the thought we should die or forced to cede medical care because we are old and/or infirm. Being viewed as marginal should make you speak up or out, but it has caused too many to be silent. I must take action based on the idea that the marginalized often have to speak and act first before their issues are dealt with by a majority. My preferred method of starting a discussion is in writing. Sometimes that form of expression will not be enough.

-“My only answer to our current state of affairs is to start with me and be sure I am modeling the good things I learned from my parents and honed at the Academy, which include patriotism, loyalty and honor, faith and respect for God and family, and absolute, non-negotiable standards of right and wrong.... With these things in mind, I’ll do my best to set a right example as a grandfather, father and husband and citizen. ... I never know when someone is watching me, so I’ll try to be an inspiration to others and live by the standards I profess at all times (Kids are especially at adept at spotting hypocrisy!). I will try to see the bright side of every situation and invoke the gift of laughter whenever possible.”

Another body blow. This person’s background is almost identical to mine but over the last twenty years or so I have been seeing the world as more gray than anything else and have not been voicing what I believe in as I have let myself believe I no longer matter. Based on values that have driven most of my life, I should speak up. My voice and actions must be driven by who I am and with the the thought: if not me, then who?

There are many silent voices on both sides of our issues. My feedback and my thoughts are meant as thought provoking and apply equally to those being silent no matter your core beliefs. Be involved, let your voice be heard. Speak concisely and with respect.

Phil Horton

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