Years ago, when we were living in Denmark, I took daily classes at the local “Kommune.” All foreigners who were living in the country were eligible for free Danish courses. Parallel to learning the language, we received useful information about filling out job applications and understanding Danish tax law.
One of the things I learned is that in Denmark, frequently, you would be asked your personality type on job applications. If you are “A person,” that means that you are fresh in the morning and tired at night. If you are a “B person,” you prefer to get up late in the morning and work in the latter part of the day. If the job allows flexibility, they will accommodate your hours according to your personality, so you can work more effectively. This trend was started around 2007 by several people, who identified themselves as “B persons” who were unhappy with their work schedules.
I find this brilliant!
I am an “A” person and have always been that way. The minute I wake up, even if it is 5 a.m., I am up and about. Luckily, everyone in the family is like me. I can’t imagine living with “B” persons. We would probably get on each other’s nerves constantly.
Georgy and I both get up between 5 and 6 a.m. and then go out to exercise. The kids wake up a bit later, around 7. By then, we are ready to make breakfast and get started with our days. Lately, I have been going for runs near Riverside Park. Not every day, but often enough to recognize the workers at the Sanitation station near pier 99. They are also working on an “A” schedule, although I doubt anyone ever asked them what time of day they are at their most productive.
Nevertheless, the workers always greet me with a fresh “Hello” as I start my run and a “High five” as I return. I nod at them and smile with my eyes. These days everyone in New York has learned how to smile behind their masks. We squint our eyes as much as possible. Sometimes we say things like “how are you doing?” and “hanging in there?”
This past week brought many smiles and quite a few tears to many of us in this city. The trauma caused by the despicable Trump regime will last for years, but at least now, the nazis, neo-nazis, and white supremacists have been curbed and sent back to their holes. Many people, especially in Europe, are upset about the bans of hate-speaking MAGA people on Twitter. They are talking about “censorship” on “freedom of speech,” etc. I am not on Twitter and frankly never really understood the whole Twitter thing, but I am definitely on Facebook, where I post things almost every day. Once in a while, I get into ridiculous situations where I find myself arguing with half-senile white supremacists (doesn’t everybody?). I don’t see it as fun. I always regret any engagement with neo-nazis. Should they be banned? I don’t know. Should Hitler be on Twitter? As a general rule, I try to ban nazis, neo-nazis, and white supremacists from my life. If I owned Twitter, I would have done that years ago.
However, the worst is when I read posts or even interviews with friends or relatives who promote deranged conspiracy theories. It is challenging for me to accept these and not judge the people for what they post on social media … this has caused me to keep my distance from people whose “theories” I find repulsive. Sadly, some are considered “intelligent” people in polite society.
I suppose there are two ways of looking at the big problems of our day. One is to ignore them and let every man fight for themselves. The other is to try and find solutions.
When I speak to people who voted for Trump (I know … ), they are usually not deranged individuals like the ones we saw on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6. Most of them are just regular people who think mostly about themselves, their jobs, their families, and their immediate surroundings. They don’t care about the significant issues, such as Global Warming, Poverty, Racism, Homelessness, etc. Those issues are too abstract and unsolvable for them even to begin thinking about.
They also tend to freak out when they hear the word “socialism.” Many of them come from Eastern Europe and have lived for some time under Communism and believe that socialism will force them to give money to the poor via taxation. In general they think that the poor and homeless are by definition too lazy to bring themselves up.
Their main argument is, “Nobody helped us. Why should we help them?” Or … “I don’t mind helping, but this is ridiculous… all these people, living on the streets and expecting us to give them money and put them up in hotels? … isn’t it enough they get food for free from our taxpayer dollars? Isn’t it enough that they get free health-care and unemployment? So many of them have more money than you can imagine and waste them on drugs every day. Why should I be responsible for them?“ These are the types of arguments you would hear most often from Trump voters.
To me, the homeless person on the street could easily be me. If I make one mistake, one wrong move, I would be living in a tent too. This is why I always identify personally with those who are suffering, with their battles, with their darkness. What if I lose my mind? What if I become addicted to drugs? What if I lose the control I currently hold over my life? What if I get fired? Lose my passion for life? How hard would it be to let myself go, stop working, lose my home, kids, and everything? I don’t see this as an abstraction. I see this as a reality and therefore identify myself with every single suffering soul on the street. To me, this is personal.
Sometimes I watch people who are destitute on the subway. They seem to be in a state of nirvana. They look asleep, but there is a sense of dreaming and floating in their postures. They are hanging between this world and the next. Perhaps it is the drugs they are on, or maybe it is their unwillingness to fight in a fundamentally flawed and cruel world that has rejected them and neglected them since day one. In a world where one is doomed to fail since the start, not failing is nothing less than a miracle. A friend told me that if they were not housed in Times Square or the Upper West Side hotels, most of the homeless would have died this winter.
I believe it.
Many people are hopeful that this new government would do a better job at controlling the pandemic and providing relief to those who are suffering. That they would return to serious policies to fight global warming and racism. That they would release the kids held in cages at the border and implement better immigration policies. Help those who are working illegally as slaves. I hope that this will happen. But I am also not fooled that we will experience big changes, because I know that there are too many in this country who hate these policies.
They will be back with a vengeance tomorrow.