Middle Class Mentality

We hear a lot of talk about middle class welfare. I want to focus, instead, on middle class mentality, at the moment deplorable. And I want to focus first on myself as a typical, deplorable example.

I did not know how bad I had got until today. Here I am, typical middle class, my parents middle class, most of my children middle class. I sit here in my slightly leftist way reading blogs and tweets, and voting on surveys as to how I regard violence in children’s literature or what I think about proposals to fund the NDIS. I had began a post on children’s literature and the fact that perhaps children should, from an early age, have to deal with the concept of realistic violence.

I supported and still very strongly support the idea of and the need to fund a disability service.

But I had to leave the comfort of my middle class iPad and do a message for an elderly relative by marriage.

While at her house I did a couple of little jobs which culminated in my removing some old, dried dog feces from the carpet and a table leg in the living room. As I did so I mentally fulminated about what I was doing. I felt I needed to get back to the important contribution I making to the world with my views on children’s literature rather than dealing with dog poo!

Then I remembered my mother. She helped look after a lot of old people. Two significant examples I recall were, as a child, hearing a demented aunt screaming that she was on fire when a hot water bottle was put in her bed and later, as a young adult, asking my mother why she kept visiting an elderly, remote cousin and bringing her to the house. She had not known her at all well during their lives as they had lived in different states. “Why you?” I asked. She replied that she felt we all should be looking after those alone and unable to care for themselves and she would prefer to do this for people who were even remotely in the family as she felt a stronger obligation there.

She was, in essence, being tribal. The tribe takes responsibility for their own.

I think the NDIS is essential and overdue. No one should have to buy their own wheelchairs and pay for things that the able can take for granted. Any person may need extra help in any area that might be simple for others.

However why should we pay for people to do simple tasks such as pick up poo? These are the things we ourselves should all go back to doing for our family and other people, as part of the tribe. Does it make easier to do these sort of jobs if they are paid for? I think not. In fact it probably makes it less unpleasant if we feel some vague sort of responsibility for the owner of either the dog or the poo, be they relative, neighbour or acquaintance.

This morning in the newspaper I saw an article bemoaning that retired people like me are finding that, rather than just kicking up their heels, they are helping to look after grandchildren. Wasn’t this ever so? When one got too old for hunting and gathering (in my case only gathering I’m afraid) one had to look after the younger and older in the tribe as long as one could. I think a lot of middle class people in my mother’s generation did this. When did this cease to be a norm for us?  When did we all, like me, start to think that everything unpleasant or too hard could be outsourced or ignored be it violence, childhood dependence, disability or degeneration in old age or illness?

There are a number of volunteers in the community and many do much hard work but, again, most seem to be organized into middle class style groups unable to do certain activities because they would be uninsured or hidebound by other middle class types of restrictions.

Be warned I am going back to the tribe! I won’t put my iPad away. In fact I have today installed, with my trusty drill, a new shelf for it. But I may talk to my wonderful grandchildren about violence as I look after them sometimes, possibly as I change a nappy or two or play a game of Mine Craft or Halo Reach or lend them a violent book . I will try to be hands-on with relatives, friends and neighbours if they need help and will force myself to ask for help if I myself need it.

And I won’t advocate that picking up poo should be out sourced.


About Anne Powles

I am retired from paid employment. During my working life I have been variously and sometimes contemporaneously, wife, mother of four, lawyer, teacher and psychologist. I have also been a serial education junkie. As are we all, I have been an observer of the world around me. Here I have recorded some of my memories, observations and theorisings.
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