One of the many things I have grown to love about my retirement is the quiet. After thirty years of generally talking all day, listening to other people talking, or being subjected to hallway noise of yammering and shouting, the relative silence is a true pleasure. It's rare that, in the course of a usual day, I hear a single voice that is not my own.
Think of it! For days and days, from seven in the morning until four in the afternoon, aside from me chatting with my cats, there is not another human voice to be heard. Unless my mother calls, unless Rick calls, unless a sister calls (all of which could happen, but seldom do), no voice interrupts my day. I don't turn on the television or a radio. I wallow in The Quiet.
Another part of the reason I enjoy the quiet might be that it's apparently difficult to have a sane discussion with people anymore, about anything. It's terribly tedious when grownups link every little thing to The Politics and blame everything on their pet issue du jour. I do it about the republicans for humorous effect here at the Dept., but Out There, it's reached a level of sheer idiocy. I'm going to try my best not to add to the circus as I answer today's question, which is:
What is one political or social issue that drives you crazy when people talk about it?
(This question also adds the gentle and civilized note: You don't have to give your opinion; just tell what the issue is. Honestly, in this format, I don't know if that's possible. Readers here know most of my opinions anyway, though, so it's not an issue.)
All of the Issues drive me crazy anymore, especially when David "Gregorius Interruptus" Gregory tackles them on Meet the Press. Do not get me started. That show should start with Rachel Maddow giving him a good, smart smack in the mouth every single week.
But I digress.
Firstly, the Affordable Care Act. I hate like a root canal that Everyone calls it "Obamacare." Yes, I realize that President Obama himself claims to embrace the term, but that was a political move to take the sting out of the term, I think. Certain people speak about the ACA as if it were a product of The Great Satan--as if it says that, at some point, all the elderly among us will have to go to the woods and live off the land with only a backpack of dried fruit and a Swiss Army knife. The most rabid detractors have no idea what the ACA even says. Or does. Or will do. They just want Sarah Palin to run for president and drill for oil in snowy game preserves. And shoot things. From her snowmobile. Named Prak.
Next, guns. Chiefly, gun control. This is an issue fraught with so much conflict. The US has a very distinct gun culture, and within it are separate gun cultures. Some of them are historical and go all the way back to our earliest regional heritages. Some are simply violent and macho gangster posturing. I'm not pretending to understand any gun culture; it's all alien to me. But I will never believe that what we need are more guns, as in NRA president Wayne LaPierre's quote about the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with one. And I worry a great deal that all the rhetoric about beefing up mental health initiatives instead of legislating commonsense gun control will only serve to further isolate, stigmatize, and harm those struggling with mental health problems.
Finally--I'm going to confine myself to three or I'll get too fired up--public education in general and teachers specifically. The amount of teacher-bashing and outright disrespect and belittling of the profession and individual teachers is both astonishing and breathtaking. Wait--add "heartbreaking" to that list. There are actually people, and a great deal of them, who think that a teacher is someone who gets paid way too much to work only nine months a year, then retires to a cushy salary for doing nothing. These are the same people who, when they find out you are a teacher, say, "Oh, I could never do that job!" or "You couldn't pay me enough! Kids today...!" These are the same people who want inexperienced kids from government programs to teach cheaply in public schools, but then raise hell when all teachers aren't perfect in the classroom. "These are our children you're talking about! That teacher is in a position of Trust! We expect the best for our kids." Basically, what they want is ... I have no idea. Honestly, I don't know what in the hell they want. They have free schools. Teachers get paid little, comparatively speaking. It's painfully obvious that education is not a national priority, and nothing gets cut more on the national, state, and local level more often and more deeply than education budgets. My entire career, I did more with less, year after year. There was never a year that we didn't hear the phrase "Because of budget cuts...". Teachers are Heroes.
Dammit. Now I'm fired up. Your turn in Comments.