On liberalism in your late 20s

If anybody reading this is a liberal youngin', eyes ablaze with the fire only a passion for social justice ignites, extremities tingling with the desire to get out there and CHANGE THE WORLD, I have a bit of advice for you. Don't get a public service job. At least not over the phone. At least not right away. Give your do-gooder feelings some time to settle in, establish residency, maybe get themselves a library card and learn directions to the nearest UDF. I've been working at a phone-oriented public service job for almost a year now. There are good days and bad days, but not a day goes by that doesn't find me thinking thoughts more at home in the head of a flag-waving soccer mom, her banana-yellow hummer coated with camo-colored ribbons and a big fat W, most decidedly not in the head of a proud'n'loud liberal bisexual atheist feminist trying to worm her way into a career in public interest advocacy. E.g.: "Jaysus. If you can't AFFORD mortgage payments, don't buy a HOUSE, then come crying because you can't PAY." It's offending my better nature even typing that, knowing what I know about predatory lending practices and the effects bad education and mistrust of authority can have on someone making an honest effort to establish a family and equity. But there it is. You listen to the general public's complaints all day and you begin to resent their ignorance, their bitterness at how life's treated them, their lack of the social niceties my mommy taught me growing up in suburbia (would it kill people to say thank you? Or, hey, just don't scream obscenities at me. I'd settle for that.). The ringing of your work phone begins to rank higher than a colicky baby or dentist's drill in your continuum of Sounds That Make Me Want to Poke Out My Eye. My inner liberal's voice, though still the voice of reason and still retaining control of the whole operation, is at times shut out by this disturbing newcomer, this person who just wants to shout "Shut UP! You're so STUPID! GAAAAHHHHH!!!!!" Maybe that's showing my age, too, even calling it liberalism. I had a friend, younger than I by about four years, get very upset when I called him a liberal and not a progressive. Apparently, progressive : liberal :: feminist : suffragette. It just doesn't apply anymore. But I still believe in breaking the cycle of poverty and ignorance. I believe in civil liberties and ye olde "I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." I believe in live and let live. This is liberalism still, to me. So how about it, kiddies? How do we get that shameful inner voice to simmer down, or go away entirely? How DOES a liberal age gracefully into her late twenties, as life and reality make awfully destructive inroads on increasingly tattered beliefs? Your thoughts, please.

  1. You know, I don’t think that I want people to be able to say whatever is on their mind, and I am definately not going to defend them when they say stupid things. I work with the public. I hear whatever is on people’s minds. And I feel that most people need a stupidity filter. It should come standard equipt at birth. Or maybe it’s part of the hospital fees. You get the filter as an additional bonus. Like “Congrats Mr. and Mrs. Annoying people! You have a lovely baby Annoying. For choosing our hospital and medical plan you get a complimentary stupidity filter for the whole family as a token of our appreciation!” Yea!

    Jessi G
    August 23rd, 2006 at 10:59 pm
  2. I believe it was Thomas Paine who said about public service “Bitches ain’t shit”. That’s what yo get for caring about people. Most people are only out for themselves and thats not being a liberal or conservative, but a realist. Most people will just take and take if your offering and not give anythiny back in return. Your grammer is also not very good “proud’n’loud liberal bisexual atheist feminist ” has far too many adjectives.

    D WallZ
    August 24th, 2006 at 11:50 am
  3. Yeah, I too, very much work with the public, and MPOW serves as de facto homeless shelter. I think that a significant component of the young liberal worldview is an idealization of the proles and/or of working with the proles, when in practice it can be very frustrating and discouraging. Now, even though I’m a librarian, I’m going to go ahead and engage in uncited hearsay… I remember reading in a book on Modernism in architecture a criticism of a lot of the famous Mod designers of being progressives who claimed to strive for utpoian societies but couldn’t actually stand being around the types of people for whom they were designing their large housing projects.
    Hmm. No answers here…

    Amy S
    September 10th, 2006 at 8:13 pm

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