Monday, August 13, 2012

An Open Letter to Auntie about Uncle Sam

We need to talk, Auntie.

It’s about you and Uncle Sam.

I know this may not be any of my business, and you may be angry with me for sending you this letter, but because I value you so much, I feel as though I must send it. 

I also know that you’re busy, busier than ever, so I’ll get straight to the point.

I think Uncle Sam’s abusing you.

I think you are battered.

And I think it’s important for you to realize this.

Consider some of the things he does to you. For example, he. . .

  • denies your right to work anywhere without his permission
  • takes your earnings before you even see them—leaving you less and less to spend each year
  • limits what you can buy with what little of your money is left
  • treats you as incompetent to perform even the smallest tasks, such as ordering contacts for yourself without a note from someone else saying they approve of your decision, and so on.
Of course, maybe sometimes he’s “nice” to you. I will grant that. Maybe, for example, he. . .
  • tells you that he “feels your pain” when you’re going through a rough patch (caused by him)
  • returns some of the money (he formerly took from you) to help you cope
  • offers gifts now and then (so long as you remember your place and his—in other words that you should be grateful and that you show your gratitude by confirming that he is the one who gets to call the shots of your life)
But these are not actually good things when you stop and think about them, are they?

More to my point, to the reason I’m writing this letter, things are getting much worse now aren’t they?

I mean, it’s getting to the point where he. . .
  • goes through all of your mail without asking
  • tells you what you can or cannot eat
  • tells you what you can or cannot drink
  • tells you who your doctor will or will not be, and so on.

Auntie, I don’t want to get too personal, but the other day I saw Uncle Sam frisk you before leaving the house—touching you . . . places . . . that are not proper in that context.

This is completely uncalled for.

You are not a criminal and don’t deserved to be treated as one, by anyone, without cause.

Your right to your own person is sacred, and you should not submit to being violated in that way. It’s a shameful position to be in once and a degrading position to be in continually.

Now, I probably know what you’re going to say in response to all this. Battered women, for example, often think and say these three things:

     1. “It wasn’t always like this”—or “He used to be so charming and so respectful!”

This may may be entirely true. In fact, I agree that back in ’76, Uncle Sam was very respectful of your rights.

However, shouldn’t you judge a person, just as a company or a government, based not on how they once treated you but on how they treat you now?

No matter how respectful he once was, if he is now abusing you, he is now abusing you, and that is that. There’s simply no way around it.

And it should stop.

     2. “I deserve to be treated like this.”

Auntie, I hope with all my heart that you don’t think this, because nothing could be further from the truth.

You do not deserve to be treated as inhuman.

And how is it that you are being treated?

As a friend of mine says, “A human life is a life guided by the judgment of one’s own mind.”

Is this what you are allowed to do?

Is it the life you are living now?

Or are you denied the right to work or shop, even eat or drink, according to your own judgment?

We both know the answer to that.

But Auntie, please do not say that you have made bad choices and thus have relinquished your right to decide what to do in certain areas of your life.

Even if you have made bad choices, so what? It’s your life, isn’t it? No matter what anybody says, nobody owns you. And so long as your choices don’t violate anyone else’s rights, again, so what?

They, the choices, are yours, yours alone to make, and Uncle Sam should know this. He’s been told so quite clearly in the past.

     3. “There’s nowhere to go”—or “Everybody’s the same!”

There’s always somewhere to go—even within the house there are other rooms, rooms that afford you a little more protection than otherwise.

But even if this were true, this is no cause to submit. I repeat it is no cause to take any abuse whatsoever.

If there truly is nowhere to go, well then all that means is that your options are more limited.

You can fight for your right to act on your own judgment. That means your right to not be molested, to not have your earnings taken, to not be reduced to asking permission to what is yours by right.

It means the right to do what you want, anything you want, so long as you do not violate another’s right to do the same.

Or, to state your other option, you can give up, accepting the present state of things.

I sincerely hope you don’t choose this last option, Auntie. More specifically, I hope you do not continue to do nothing while being tread on—while being treated inhumanely.

You are a human being.

You deserve to be treated as one.

And if you choose to stand up to Uncle Sam—to tell him quite clearly that your money is yours, you earned it; to tell him your life is yours, you own it—well, I and many other people will back you up to the greatest extent we can.

It will not be easy.

But a life guided by the judgment of your own mind is worth it.

It is a human life.

And, again Auntie, you emphatically deserve nothing less.

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