One of the most wretched additions to the English language in recent years has been the phrase “teachable moment” - it’s a personal dislike, I admit, because the phrase has achieved such cliche status.
My personal feelings aside, there are times in life that clearly are watershed moments, times that simply cannot be ignored. If you are a member of the working class in the United States, what is happening in Wisconsin is one of those teachable moments, a moment to reach out and share our experiences, knowledge and feelings.
Is what is occurring the Alamo, or an awakening for American labor? Will workers across the country see how their own benefits have been threatened, and feel some solidarity with their fellow workers in Wisonsonsin, whether they belong to a union or not?
Will they see how the Republican Party have become handmaidens for the wealthy and powerful, as was made evident to all the world when Wisconsin Governor Walker was pranked by a caller this week, and revealed his true nature and motives?
I have been asking a lot of folks this week - both in person and online - how they feel about what is happening in Wisconsin. Specifically, do they feel that their fellow workers would react the same way as the folks further north have, and take to the streets and fright not only for their own rights, but for their neighbors, whether they have ever met them or not?
The answer, sadly, is usually “no.”
I never ask them if they would stand up for themselves, should the need arise.
I’ve also been watching Fox News this week, working overtime bashing FDR, and rewriting the history of American labor, and I wonder how many are falling for it.
I remember growing up in the military, and how the news of the day was often dinner table conversation, whether we were all on the same page or not.
We are living in the worst economic crisis this country has faced in decades. This week presents an opportunity from heaven for the extreme right to destroy the concept of collective bargaining in this country -and not just in Wisconsin.
Odd thing about Wisconsin, though. Some seem to see it almost as another country, as far away in their minds as Egypt. They allow themselves to be distracted by Justin Bieber’s new haircut, or the latest basketball scores.
And some seem to look upon the protestors as the enemy of all that is good and decent.
Indeed, at least one television commentator compared state budget woes to September 11, which would make public employees what? Potential terrorists?
While the battle in Wisconsin is over public employee unions, the ones often gleefully bashed by fatuous conservatives for having wages and benefits out of whack, who are these workers?
The folks who pick up our trash.
Their wages and benefits are dragging America its knees?
Any comparison to CEO benefits, of course, will bring the shrill guilt-tripping response, “Class warfare! Class warfare!”
And now others are looking to strip unions in the private sector of their collective bargaining rights, as well.
Just think, we could have an entire Right to Work nation, instead of just individual states dedicated to that anti-humanistic notion. We could accept the interpretation of the Right on American labor. We could learn to keep our heads down and know our place.
A world in which the term “working class” may someday be mangled to become “associate class”?
This perfect moment, this Wisconsin Moment, affords working class parents all across the country the perfect opportunity to engage with the rest of their families about their own experiences. their own jobs, their self-respect, and their hopes and fears for the future.
They can answer any questions the kids might have.
Hell, every working class person should be talking to all of their friends about the same things.
Maybe it’s time for working class parents to have The Talk (every bit as important as the Birds and Bees Talk) about how we’re all in this together.
Or they could act like what is happening in Wisconsin is happening in another dimension altogether and just put another movie in the DVD player. It’s up to them.
Might I suggest Norma Rae?
Quote of the Day
So often we think in a superior and lordly manner of our possessions, when, as a matter of fact, we do not really possess them, they possess us. - David Grayson