Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Is There No Decency?

Maybe I'm an idiot for even asking the question. But here's the thing. There are days in social work that take me straight to the edge. You get good at not appropriating other people's pain. It's not just bad technique; it's a kind of arrogance. So, you learn better. But all of social work -ALL OF IT- is based on the notion that people can come back from pain, from tragedy, from mistakes, from lunacy... and build lives from the broken pieces. And while we're about it, we can make a safe and just world where everyone can thrive. (I know. I don't want much, do I?)

Sometimes I'm confident that this will all work out. We'll get the great world I imagine. Other times I know it's basically futile, but things can get better and society needs people like me (and all social workers) to keep the dream alive and in front of us. It's important to remember that we have the dream, even if we can't fulfill it. On bad days, I think people are just laughing at us as naive fools.

I get home from work, cozy up to the computer with my glass of wine, and learn that Rush Limbaugh called the North Carolina rape victim, allegedly victimized by the members of the Duke University lacrosse team, a "ho." On the air. He is paid to say things like that. He has a loyal following who will not just defend his right to say things like that (although why they're not slanderous is unclear to me), but argue that he was in fact speaking accurately. Limbaugh apologized when a caller insisted, but essentially recanted his own apology.

And then... because that's not enough for one evening... Neal Boortz, an Atlanta radio host said that Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney's new hairstyle makes her look like a "ghetto slut." Excuse me??!! Yes, she's the one who apparently hit the Capitol Police officer. I can't claim that she did the right thing there, but honestly! How beyond frustrating to always be assumed to be the hired help because of her skin color and her gender.

Have we made no progress at ALL? The woman raped at Duke is black. She is an exotic dancer. So, in Rush's world view she must be a whore, apparently. Congresswoman McKinney is another black woman, assumed to be powerless when, in fact, she's a member of Congress. Not only is it true that people are commenting on her hair rather than, say, her position on the issues of the day, but she's also referred to as .... what? a whore. Because of her race and her gender.

I'm going to have another glass of wine, go to bed, get up in the morning, and try to make a better world. But honest to God, I'm losing hope here.

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