Downton Abbey ING of America

Service jobs and served privilege are the focus of Downton Abbey. America is in danger of becoming Downton Abbey where there are people with money who can afford to be served, and those who serve them.

Raising the minimum wage to $15/hour contributes to the Downton-ing of America. If you want people to shut the hell up and serve the gravy, you’ll pay them just enough to limit their opportunities such that they’re afraid to let go. And with the machination of everything from grocery checkout to bank teller, there will be nowhere else to go, many decent skilled jobs are now done by machines.

One subtext of Downton Abbey is the rising of people above their servant circumstance. Tom the chauffeur who marries into the “Lords” family, a maid who studies typing and becomes a secretary.

America needs a return to decent jobs making things, jobs in which people who aren’t cut out for college can excel. The industrial revolution has turned into the industrial avoidance of human labor. Sure there are reasons, among them cost and reliability. We can’t afford not to return to people making things. What else are people going to do except be servants to increasingly privileged classes?

Throwing money at service jobs is not the answer unless all we want is servants. America is in danger of becoming two classes, like Downton Abbey, the served and the servant. Putting a “living” minimum wage in place only ensures that lord and servant becomes the status quo. Pay the hamburger flipper at McDonald’s $15 dollars an hour and he/she will flip your burgers for life. McDonald’s was an after school job when I was a teen and it paid $1.05 an hour. McDonald’s wasn’t a career choice it was a way to learn important job skills, a way to earn a car and money for dates.

Denial of False Reality is a Good Thing

Do not mistake my title, I do not advise denial of reality. But I urge you to consider what reality is. I am talking about denying the reality that others, a society or a culture would impose on you. I am talking about denying the judgement that false reality dictates. I am talking about discarding all the shame, guilt and limitations that result from adopting a schackling reality.

Deny it. Deny it all and live your reality. That you are the most beloved of the most high God, a perfect creation of His, not a flawed interpretation of someone else’s imperfect reality.

I see people living in shame, disability, in poverty, in all kinds of states of reality that have no relationship to their true nature. I know the reality they live beneath is false because I see people in the same circumstances who deny that limiting reality and live fully conscious, fully grateful and fully alive.

At six this morning I passed a man who leaned on a cane alone at the darkened entrance of a social service agency. At the curb was what I presumed to be his car, a beaten-up car with a license plate that said disabled person. The sign on the door showed a 9 AM opening time. He intended to wait in that doorway on a old rainy morning for three hours. He would still be there by the time I peeled my morning banana.

I walked along pondering this man. Was he disabled or just living a disabled reality? Did he limit his ability to be abled by accepting someone’s judgement that whatever is wrong with him limits his ability to live fully? Has he integrated a warped reality into his mind and his way of living? It occurred to me that if a man can get out of bed and dress, and if he can drive downtown and stand in a doorway, in the rain, for three hours to be first in line then he is indeed abled and capable at least of three hours work.

Denial causes lots of heartache when harm and hurt and wrongs are denied. Wrongs can be put right when reality is faced and different paths are chosen. But when we are the ones who are harmed or hurt or wronged, we must deny we are fundamentally changed. We must refuse to revise our concept of ourselves as abled. We must not adopt a shattered image of our wholeness. Our reality is what we decide it is, and that we are whole and abled is a powerful guiding reality.

So deny, deny, deny and live your true reality. Reject shame for forgiveness, bitterness for gratefulness, judgement for grace, anger for joy, and loneliness for love. You are complete and accepted by God, just as you are.

Out Ain’t What It Used to Be

“Try to believe we exist, even when you’re not there. We are independent of you.” Graham Greene, The Comedians

It is narcissistic to act as though others do not exist unless “I” am in their presence, connected, constantly communicating.

But independence of others is not respectable in this age of constant communication. Nobody is to be alone. Nobody is to be disconnected. Nobody is to be independent.

It is a modern phenomenon that people are expected to be available at all times and in all places. In the days of phones with cords attached to walls we’d go “Out” and while “Out”, we weren’t “In”. The wonderful difference between “In” and “Out” was that “In” was where we were available. “In” was where we were known and where others could find you. “In” was home.

“Out” was where we went for adventures, fun, friends, or isolation. “Out” was apart, unavailable, discreet. “Out” was where anonymity and individuality were experienced. Before going “Out” we’d be asked if we had a dime for a phone call, was our underwear clean, what time would we be back? “Out” was where we stood on our own, where the “In” person was tested and stretched.
After being “Out”, someone might call on the telephone and say, “I tried to call you earlier,” and we’d reply, “We were out.” People who weren’t “Out” with us wanted to hear what we did while “Out”. We had sayings that celebrated being “Out” like, “Be there or be square,” and “You missed out.” Nobody ever said, “You missed ‘In’”.

Today we’re neither “Out” nor “In”. We still have homes, but we’re more reachable anywhere by phone, email, texting, social media, video chat, and soon, drone deliveries and surveillance. We can choose to disconnect, but disconnecting is viewed as antisocial. “Out” ain’t what it used to be.

We are now expected to be “In”, always, always “In”. Friends and families and strangers can follow us everywhere and participate through video, pictures and descriptions. The apartness that used to make “Out” distinct is gone. “Out” and “In” are mashed-up in a glaussian blur.

Independence of others is no longer respectable, it is suspect to exist when they aren’t there. Narcissus is alive and thriving in our need and ability to be with everyone everywhere.