Something happened yesterday that made me sad.
I was doing my skim through Facebook and came on the following, posted by one of my friends from High School: “Apparently, Glenn Beck says that only hookers use Planned Parenthood. Guess that makes me and all the other people who have ever used PPs vast array of services hookers. Cross post if you are a hooker according to Beck too.” I had used PP – gratefully -- in my youth, thought 'What a ridiculous thing to say!' and without too much thought, posted it to my status bar. Over the next 24 hours, that comment generated more responses than any that I have ever made.
A friend in Maine explained some of the background to the quotation (which I will not post here. It's easy enough to find on the Net if you want to listen), and suggested that GB doesn't necessarily believe what he says, but thrives on OTT controversial statements, and I accept that that maybe true. I don't know him or his background from Adam. (Note to readers: I have not lived in the USA for two decades, plus. I am not familiar with talk show hosts or other popular personalities, and know that commenting on another culture whose nuances are unfamiliar, is done at the commenter's peril. There be Dragons! But I digress.) I replied that I was unfamiliar with the man in question and had probably passed on the equivalent of a Chinese Whisper. Within minutes, a friend in Florida posted the link to the comment, and I listened to what was actually said.
I felt ill almost immediately. It was so full of negativity and toxic energy. So belittle-ing of others who don't share his views. Maybe that's how 'entertainment' works these days, and I am so isolated on my Mediterranean seaside plateau that the world has left me behind... 'Hookers' are only ones that will miss Planned Parenthood should it be cut from existence.... Abortions are treated as a joke... Fundamental women's health services are ridiculed...
I've never hooked. And I'm pretty sure that none of the women who stepped up and posted beside me have, either. I see nothing wrong with the job itself, but deplore the misery and exploitation that so often serve as prostitution's hand-maidens. I have had an abortion. I lived in a country where contraception was illegal, a doctor who mentioned abortion as an option could be prosecuted, and women who found themselves in the 'family way' were forced abroad, into 'unwed mothers' homes', or gave birth alone in fields -- and died. It was not a joke, and I will bet a fortune on the notion that no-one who has had an abortion and no-one who provides them treats them as a joke. For me it was a time of misery, pain, and depression – and I was fortunate to have the support of my family. How infinitely awful for those who must endure them alone or under a cloud of disapproval.
What struck me most about that little soundbite was the lack of compassion. Maybe he really is a cuddly grandpa who puts all that callousness on for effect. That idea in itself led me to two further images: I, after using natural cleaners for so long, can no longer walk the the supermarket's chemical detergent aisles without developing a headache and sensitive eyes – yet other shoppers have no problem, and a frog can allegedly stay happily in slowly heating water until it boils to death. What's the cumulative cultural effect of that aural toxicity on those who hear it daily?
A dog-eared copy on the following was posted on the door on the Big One's nursery school fifteen years ago. I have never forgotten it.
Children Learn What They Live
By Dorothy Law Nolte, PhD
If a child lives with criticism,
A child learns to condemn
If a child lives with hostility,
A child learns to fight
If a child lives with ridicule,
A child learns to be shy
If a child lives with shame,
A child learns to feel guilty
If a child lives with tolerance,
A child learns to be patient.
If a child lives with encouragement,
A child learns confidence.
If a child lives with praise,
A child learns to appreciate.
If a child lives with fairness,
A child learns justice.
If a child lives with security,
A child learns to have faith.
If a child lives with approval,
A child learns self-esteem.
If a child lives with acceptance and friendship,
A child learns to find love in the world.