Sunday, March 4, 2012

It's All About the Perception

A year prior to entering college, and during the summers while attending college, I worked on commercial fishing vessels that were based in various ports in New England. Working as a deckhand enabled me to pay for my room and board during the college term. My father was of the belief that something that one had to work for would have more value and would be more appreciated than something that one was given. Though I was unaware of it at the time, the discipline and work ethic, the skills, and experiences I acquired through this endeavor were going to be as valuable to me as the education that the endeavor was financing.

During this period of my life, I drank a fair amount of beer. And like most fishermen I had a "regular" pub and got to know the bartenders and patrons. We use to bring lobster tails and fresh fish fillets to reward them for helping us relax, after the hard work and stress of a fishing trip, by serving beer and conversation.

Over the course of the years I got to know the owner of the bar quite well. We occasionally talked about politics and social issues and women. I remember one conversation that we had that sticks with me today. After recounting the perils of the sea, the courage of the captain and crew, and the bounty that was harvested by our nets; as well as the fat stacks of cash in our pockets, he told me that fishermen have a stigma attached to them and are viewed as undesirables by our society. This was back in the 70's and because the vocation of commercial fishing was a means to an end for me, and I was usually drunk during these conversations, I was not particularly offended by what he said.

Decades later I am still telling fishing stories, and viewing those times with greater appreciation, and I recently thought about what Vinnie said to me. Though my recollection of Vinnie does not contain anything pejorative; I do remember he took care of his mother, paid his bills, and was kind to everyone; I am taken by his perception of fishermen. For I am sure that Vinnie could not have taken a boat away  from the docks, navigated through storms, filled the hold with fish, repaired ailing pumps, and negotiated with fish buyers. And our patronage enabled him to prosper.

This story illustrates part of what's wrong with America today. We view corporate raiders, CEO's, the New Derivative Thinkers, and Republican Private Sector Vampires as heroes, when in fact they are not. Remember, for a long time, Bernie Madoff was a hero. And the ultra-conservative media paints them as job creators and stewards of American democracy. In fact, they are not. And they tell us that if we are good Americans, and eat our peas and carrots, go to church, and support the party, everything will be great and we'll have $2 a gallon gasoline, again. In fact, we will not.

Finally, though I find Limbaugh to be one of the most contemptible Americans alive, it is very interesting that he views and supports pornography as illustrated by his statement that he would buy all the women of Georgetown University aspirin to put between their knees, as long as they post their sexual activity online for him and his colleagues to view. I wonder if Romney and Santorum share this predilection with him?

No comments: