My New Year’s version of A Christmas Carol. With each wish everyone lives a lifetime in a few moments that contradicts their assumptions and what they think of as “fact.” And, yes, I include myself in this.
I wish everyone could live in the body of a young boy or girl with physical and/or mental issues. Get to know the mocking, the constant insinuations, put downs. How it’s like to live where nothing you do is right, even if it was.
I wish everyone could experience the life someone might have had if they hadn’t been aborted: the good and the bad. One might assume they would become antiabortion, prochoice, but not necessarily so. Could go either way.
I wish everyone could grow up in a dangerous slum where people feel they have no chance of climbing out, even if they may have that choice and don’t realize it. Where the worse actors in that neighborhood are intent on making sure you don’t, and enlisting you in their criminal, corrupt activities.
I wish everyone had to put up with the kind of rhetoric they use, the threats, the mental ploys they use on others.
I wish everyone was born into a different faith and felt the pressures to change. Or the pressure not to change. Be battered by the “you’re going to Hell”-type threats and understand those who say such things may THINK they are helping, instead of driving you away.
I wish everyone could experience what brings some people to suicide’s final door.
I wish everyone could be Black, Hispanic, White, an immigrant: see what it’s like from their perspective. Knowing you have to do whatever you can to escape the hell hole you live in but the options to do that are few to none. Know sometimes this situation was created by politicians in another nation that also rely on you for labor. Know your situation is so desperate you find a way to work for a predatory employer in another nation. So desperate you’re willing to risk gangs, risk your lives, to go where many don’t want you. Go where your very lives might be threatened to make cheap political points. But also live the lives of those who can’t find suitable work because predatory employers rely on what approaches slave labor. Understand the demand for cheap products push employers into doing that or go bankrupt.
I wish everyone could live the life of the businessperson struggling to stay afloat, putting up with employees like us, government regs. I also wish we could live the life of those hurt by scammers posing as businesspeople, defective products that may harm us, kill us, employer policies that may do the same. We need to understand both Scrooge’s and Bob Cratchit’s point of view.
I wish we could live the life of someone unjustly imprisoned, or the child unjustly punished over and over again when their big brother or sister can do no wrong, the parent trying to show love to the over-the-top petulant teen, the teen who a parent is so desperate to control. The family member who keeps being told how “stupid” they are by their siblings, made to feel worthless.
I wish we could live the life of past workers whose employment was not much better than slavery, was as a slave, died in the Triangle fire, the worker who must buy at the factory store, live in factory housing, get factory loans. We would find out how it has gotten better. We would find out how it may be almost as bad.
I wish every constituent would have to live the life of the president, whomever that may be, understand the ins and outs of policy making, how decisions are made, how sausage sometimes has to be made to get anywhere. I also wish every president would have to live the life those affected poorly by their decisions, by being made INTO “sausage” by such compromises.
I wish everyone could experience what happens when the criminal justice turns against you when you’re innocent, or how our actions affect others when we’re not innocent and “get away with it.” Someone else pays for our actions.
Finally, I wish we could all live the life of those we criticize the most, those we hate, dislike, look down upon. Maybe we’d find out we may be part of the problem.
“Inspection” is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 50 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
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