Years ago my coworker and friend said a couple of things that have come back to haunt me in light of where Republicans and the Supreme Court are taking us today. Although she was a staunch Republican and we disagreed on much, she was my friend and supporter in a malevolent and oppressive corporate environment at the credit card giant, Visa.
My friend (whom I will call Julia) eventually became secretary for Arkansas Republican Women after retirement. After many health problems and a long illness Julia died a few years ago.
The first statement had to do with Roe v Wade and abortion. She told me that she no longer cared about this issue, as she was past her reproductive years, so it meant nothing to her. The second statement was about sex education for teenagers. She stated that kids did not need sex education in our schools, as they could find all the information they needed on the internet.
At the time I argued with her. I thought using logic I could change her mind. I asked her to remember what is was like for us as women in the ‘60s and ‘70s. How our lives were governed by the fear of pregnancy. How we would not be where we were today, with our well-paying jobs, if it had not been for the women’s movement. Julia shook her head and said we did it on our own. Societal changes had nothing to do with it.
I knew different. I knew from experience and observing the lives of others, that there was more to it than our individual determination. I learned to never say, “That will never happen to me.” Over the years I, friends, and family faced discrimination, health issues, setbacks, and violence. And yes, sometimes bad things just happen. Random chance can hit you any place, any time.
Over the years Julia and many other people I have known asked me why I am a Democrat and a progressive. They say the Republican Party should appeal to me because I have been financially successful and would get to keep way more of my money if I did not have to pay all these taxes. I answer that I have enough and hope the taxes I pay will go to help those who need it. They think I am crazy. Keep in mind that these people have way more money and way more stuff than I do.
There are those that lack the education or critical thinking skills to understand that our nation and our world are at a critical tipping point, and believe everything they see on social media or Fox News. Then there are those who actually know better. There are those that see it all in terms of “me”. “That will not happen to me. I will not get sick without medical insurance. I will not end up homeless because I lost my job or my job pays so little I cannot afford rent. I will not be pulled over by law enforcement and be beaten or killed. I am too old to get pregnant, so I don’t worry about women’s rights. I am not gay, black, brown, disabled, poor, or an immigrant, so why should I care.”
There but for fortune may go you or I.