My post title may be a bit misleading as I am not really here to talk about anything overly political. Rather I am here to share my thoughts on the ripple effect that politics and consequently the government shutdown has had around me and how easily this situation could really escalate into something much worse.
I was very thankful to no longer be a government employee when all of this started happening and I know so many people that were to be and still are affected by the shut down. I found myself incredibly thankful to be a NAF (non-appropriated funds) worker.
The day of the shutdown is when it seemed to have the most impact on me mentally. I was scrolling down my facebook newsfeed and just reading through the fears and prayers and anger and frustration and a whole range of emotions felt by my friends each directly and indirectly affected by this issue in some way or another after the furlough letters went out.
Of course it was being covered by the news networks but I remember thinking how petty the news was when so many people were about to go without pay for an undetermined amount of time and all the news seemed to care about was the fact the museums and national parks were going to be closed and how this could affect the weddings that were planned to take place at them (mainly national parks). Although I am sure that if it were my wedding that I would have felt a little more slighted, but being that it was not I felt that this was such a travesty to parade around a couple who seemed more excited about being on tv than upset about the need to change their venue for their wedding. Why were they not interviewing the national park workers, or museum workers, or countless other government employees that had no idea how long it would be before they brought home a paycheck to take care of their families.
I started to have intense flashbacks to when I had been previously unemployed and the emotions that I felt at the time. I remembered how scary it was and how powerless you felt when you would do everything in your power and it still didn't seem to be enough, how quickly bills would stack up and you would find yourself doing things like donating plasma just to pay for gas and food. now I know that for the majority of the furloughed workers that things have not escalated to the point that they did with me, but how far off are they? With the American economy in a slump for so many years it has left the majority of people in a water treading type of financial situation. Some have excelled and others are constantly aflounder relying on paycheck to paycheck to stay afloat. After many of these currently furloughed workers previously losing 20% of their pay for about 5 weeks in a row less than a month ago, I can only imagine the toll that this is taking on their mental state.
It was sometime amidst this thought process that I heard that the commissary (the on base military grocery store) would be closing after that night for the duration of the furlough. Already in need of a couple staple items I figured it would be best to try to head over and get what I could while it was open. Although our commissary at the base here is not a very big one it was a mad dash for each item. Lots of shelves were bare and there was mass chaos ensuing at every aisle as the stress and frustration had found it's way into the grocery store. I grabbed one of the last packets of hamburger meat and proceeded on to other items that I required and kept looking around and many bare spots within the shelves. All that I could think about was that it was reminiscent of a natural disaster and what if things escalated and we could not go out to off-base grocery stores, what if they looked the same and I would be utterly unprepared. Would we still have electricity? would I be able to make use of my freezer and fridge items? How long would I really have before all of that food expired on me and I was left to rely on what was in my pantry?
Having grown up in Montana the concept of food storage was not a foreign thing to me. There would be many times when the threat of being snowed in for a few days or more was a very real thing. You never knew how long you would need to be prepared for and so we always had a stockpile of dried and canned goods. Since moving to Texas I have had to start over from scratch and have moved every year in the last four years. Also I have lived alone the majority of the time, with small stints of my sister coming and going. Because of this, I have never fully gotten a very lengthy supply of any pantry items. I honestly don't think that I could survive for more than a couple of weeks (and that's stretching it) if I had to. I really feel like I need to be better prepared for anything.
Times like this bring out the fear and consequently the frustration and anger in people. These can be dangerous times. I keep thinking that now would be the time that an active shooter scenario that we have seen at Fort Hood and the recent navy yard could easily be just about anyone that has been put into this trying situation.
I pray for the safety and peace of mind for all of the brothers and sisters in arms and in our nation during this time of strife. I also pray for the politicians to soften their hearts and their minds to come to the most benevolent decision for our country. I pray that they can put our country first and personal agendas first. Service before self is not happening here. If we are not careful we will turn ourselves into a third world country. We have to stand together as a nation, because without the strength of unity we are weak when divided and when divided we shall fall. I wish that I could replace the anger and the fear and hatred in the hearts of our leaders and our citizens with love for something. Whether it be this great nation we live in and die for or for the reason we all came here in the first place and the reasons we choose to remain when we have a vast amount of other countries to chose from, we remain here in what we call home. Right now we need to take care of our home, tend our own lawns, come together as a people. We need to spread the feeling of love, whether it be in a simple gesture of something more grandeur. We need to worry about ourselves and fix what is wrong at home in our country. Politics has become a bad marriage and we are the children that can be damaged for life if their is no reconciliation and this marriage is torn apart. Where is the marriage counseling here? Where is the love that all sides had in their hearts to make this nation great, keep it great and the pride to continue to grow in greatness? We seem to have lost some of ourselves as a nation in the greed for whatever vices we hold. We need to find the love, the pride, the unity that makes us what we are as Americans...