The President tells us that we may not get our Social Security checks if Congress doesn’t act. Obviously, he wasn’t nurtured by the grannies who will revolt if they find that they must live on the streets and eat from other people’s garbage cans because a flock of grown men haven’t learned to act like adults. Many of you may remember the “singing Grannies” and the famed and sainted Granny Haddock who were so predominantly in the headlines during the Bush administration protests. If those checks are not in our respective banks or mailboxes on schedule, you will learn a lesson that your own grandmothers failed to teach you. “It isn’t wise to piss off your Grandma!”
We grandmothers, who have survived many, many years of marriage and rearing from one to three generations of now-grown-up people, who have been left alone to make our own poverty-stricken way in the world with but a tiny pittance to keep the wolves from our doors, may decide that we have nothing left to lose, and you will learn the true meaning of protest. Yes, there are some who will be showered with checks from their successful children or invited to “come live at our house.” There are many more who were left destitute after dutifully nursing husbands through their last illnesses and then scrimping dutifully to pay off the huge medical and funeral bills that were left after Medicare had finished paying.
Not all the recipients of Social Security are women but they account for a large majority. Some still live in their own homes, (which they watch crumbling about them due to lack of affordable maintenance), while others must rent and the effect on them of any failure to deliver will be most immediate. Without the money to pay the rent, they will be homeless within thirty days. Most receive only about a thousand dollars a month and many have Section 8 assistance with the rent, which will, of course, also not be paid. The customary food stamps will not arrive and the utility companies will have no patience. Their monthly pittance is literally the difference between life and death.
Once that difference is removed and these “sweet ladies” find that they have absolutely no value to mankind, or worse, to their nation and that death is an inevitability, trust me, they will make their deaths even more meaningful than their lives. Picture these scenarios:
On a quiet Sunday morning a large group of little old ladies may appear on the steps of the Capitol, in front of the White House, their respective State Capitols, or the County Court Houses. They are dressed in their Sunday best, as if to go to church. They admire the view, chat a bit, then bow their heads in reverent prayer. Then each removes a bottle from her large bag and pours the contents of the bottle over her head, allowing the contents to pour down her clothing. Then. they simultaneously reach once more into the bag, drawing forth a cigarette lighter and, on the count of “three”, they all strike the flame.
The local news in the morning will show the charred bodies on the steps so that the whole world will know that the vaunted “principles” of the United States were all lies and nobody with a conscience will ever again sing “God Bless America.”
These elderly ladies have been schooled from the cradle that they must live on their income, pay their bills, and do their duty. In return, they are told that their reward will be the respect of continuing generations of proud Americans, just as they respected their forebears and the sacrifices that they made. Many have also worked outside the home and they, as well as their husbands, paid into the fund for Social Security for their old age. To them their Social Security checks are the only fiscal reward that will tell them that they are loved and respected in their own turn. Any woman who is shown in no uncertain terms that her very life has no more value and, therefore, she has no reason to continue to live, will search for some way to make her death have some meaning. Some of us may decide that the preceding situation may drive home the message. Each of us has spent the better part of a century cleaning up the messes made by others and so we feel entitled to make one mess and leave it for others to clean up.
This is not the type of demonstration that Americans are accustomed to witnessing but it is most common among the eastern nations and is the final desperate act by an individual to draw attention to the great wrong that has been done. Tossing Grandma into the streets with no means of support would certainly constitute such an atrocity and would deserve this ultimate act of protest.
We have watched as our precious Constitution has been bastardized and misinterpreted, our ruling representatives sold to the highest bidder, and the dream of democracy has been trampled in the dust. Now, we will rely on the Faith of Our Fathers to guide us into the next world and make our last sacrifice for the generations to come. We will not become rats in the streets with tin cups for the coins of those who can’t resist our gaze. Remember what we were told as a preamble for war: Better to die on your feet than to live on your knees!
This writer is an octogenarian who has spent a half century working with handicapped and deprived people and advocating on their behalf while caring for her own working-class family. She spends her “Sunset Years” in writing and struggling with The System.