Two unrelated things have happened to me in the last few days, and as a result, I've gained some blessed clarity.
Two weeks ago I paid a $3.58 (don't ask) credit card bill - only to find out the next day that I actually paid the WRONG account (I did this online and got the cards mixed up). But then I looked at the card I'd paid the $3.58 to and realized that I'd closed that account 5 months earlier. Natually, I called the company and asked what was going on. The man on the phone informed me that yes, the account was closed.
Me: So it's closed, but it accepted a payment?
The man: Oh yeah, we'll take money whenever, even when it's closed.
Me: Well, that's really...stupid. (Yes, I said this. The guy basically ignored me and offered to transfer the money to another account. Pretty good customer service. I should have apologized for being a jerk, but I didn't. Karma will get me for that one)
So that account is closed. But they'll happily take my money. Wow.
An innocent facebook post the other day has embroiled me in a spirited online debate with some conservative friends of mine, and I must say it's been enlightening. I posted a remark about how I don't understand the vitriolic levels of fear and hatred being attached to the healthcare debate. I was informedthat it's not really health care causing the trouble. It's a deep-rooted fear that Big Brother/The Government is out to take away our personal freedoms.
The debate has been good for me. It forced me to find some fact-checking websites where I could search for the reality amid the media and poltical quagmire. I realized that one point made by a friend, which I initally dismissed as fear-mongering, has some legitimacy. Always good to be reminded that it's easy to get sucked into the easy answer.
However, I gained a much bigger personal insight from all this. Basically, what I realized is this:
In my head, Big Brother (that thing we're supposed to fear) is not the government. Big Brother is the company that will happily take my money in an incorrect payment, but if I were to mistakenly charge something on a closed card, deny the charge. Big Brother are the web companies that track my every online move and someday, could use that knowledge against me. Big Brother are the companies that pay executives millions while laying off thousands of "average" Americans and running their companies into the ground, resulting in my hard earned investments being cut in half. And so on. I'm more scared of unchecked greed than I am of our current government's political agenda.
This doesn't change anything in anyone's world other than mine. But it's a thorny issue that thankfully, makes a little more sense now. I'm grateful for these small favors in this messy, complicated world of ours.
Disclaimer: Lest you think I'm naive, I realize that the President I voted for is in the White House, and my political party is in power in Congress. In this highly polarized political world, it's natural that I have less fear than I did, say, for the previous 8 years.