Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Quilting Thoughts

Obviously, regular posting has not been a priority recently.  On the other hand, I have been quilting almost daily.  I'd like to post here equally as regularly.   I meant to, but haven't done the work that is required to make it happen.  I like quilting, and find my mind cruising through many subjects as I quilt, and if I wrote something each day that I think about, I would be here much more often.  What I need to do is to somehow note whatever I'm thinking about at the quilting table, and when I move to the computer desk I'd have an idea formed for a subject.  A small jog note would do, but as I quilt I haven't taken the time to make that note.

This morning as I worked at the quilting table, a TV program that my wife and I watched seemed to be the topic of the morning.  The program is Downton Abbey.  We enjoyed it together, though Marrianna probably more so than I, and that difference is subject for this post.  What makes me uncomfortable watching programs showing wide differences of class and fortune?  I think Season One was better then Two.  Two became more of a soap opera that should be on afternoon TV, and I think when the Season Three arrives that will be even more accurate.  But that's not my subject.

In programs such as this, I usually identify with the servants much more than the "upper class."  I never watched Upstairs/Downstairs because I knew that about myself.  Also, I've not seen the current Movie "The Help" for similar reasons.  I just think the "help" was being taken advantage of in the entire book/movie.

I watched "Who Do You Think You Are?", another TV program ripped from British TV  (wait for it - I'm going to link this somehow to the announced subject.).  This program is largely an advertisement for Ancestry.com, but I've become interested in watching people explore their ancestors.  This past week, the singer-actor Reba McEntyre searched through her mother's ancestors.  Her sixth grandfather arrived in America at the age of nine in the late 1600's, an indentured servant.  Over time he became a landowner, and the family prospered after that.  Reba wondered how the child's father could have let his son leave at such a young age, so she went to Britain to get more information.

I don't recall the gentleman's name whom she met, but he gently explained to her the facts of life in Britain in the late 1600's.  The boy was almost certainly better off as an indentured servant than he would have been in Britain at the time.  And here's where we get back to the subject.

I've often wondered why there weren't more insurrections.  Servants and feudal folk seemed to accept their life much more than I would have thought they might.  When the only solution is to essentially sell your nine year old son into what is essentially slavery, with a possible out when, and if, he reaches 21, seems to be a terrible, unbearable system.  Watching Downton Abbey's servants seem to accept their status as late as 1920 seems strange to me.

But how am I different?  I spent almost 21 years enlisted in the Air Force.  The officer-enlisted class system is equally as divided.  I accepted the differences then, and I'm sure there are almost the same now.  I never felt the impulse to complain, though there were times that I absolutely knew that I was being discriminated against because I was enlisted.  Back then, I couldn't even buy life or automobile insurance from USAA because they didn't sell to enlisted folk.  They do now, but in the 60's when I needed it, no.

I suppose I realize that there are always going to be some levels of class differences.  It isn't pretty, but it certainly exists.  I've not often pushed against the barriers, and I suppose it seems strange to be wondering why they exist now.  Maybe I should just stick to my quilting and let others change the way we all interact with one another.

1 comment:

  1. I love it when you frame your writings, as their progenitor thoughts were, within your quilting.

    I'm afraid what follows has turned into a disorganised essay ... but I can't rework it now, so here goes with a précis version.

    Actually, no ... it turns out that my answer was too long for the comment form. So...

    I share your discomfort at watching films or TV programmes which embrace wide disparities of class.

    My own answer (for what it's worth) to your question, “why did they accept it?”, is that only hindsight gives us the illusion that they had a choice. The alternative to their hard, unjust, unforgiving, powerless, unfulfilling and short lives in disgustingly inadequate accommodation with too little food, almost no free time and almost nonexistent wages, was a hard, unjust, unforgiving, powerless, unfulfilling and short life without accommodation, food or money.

    The only way for them to ease their lives at all was to gain promotion – which meant assuming a small place in the very system which oppressed them and their fellow servants.

    I don't think that things are, in principle, any different now though – very, very different in quality of life, of course, but not in principle. Why does this street sweeper put up with widespread lack of respect, borderline poverty level wages, a hard life in the open in all weathers that starts at 5am? Why does this middle level executive put up with a boring and unfulfilling day, bullying by the company hierarchy, sexual harassment by her boss, unpaid overtime that eats up her leisure hours and leaves her with no time for anything but work and sleep? The answer, again though in a different form, is the same: because they fear fears losing even that little which they do have.

    Also ... human beings are strongly inclined to accept the status quo as inevitable: “that's the way things are” ...and are, at heart, herd animals inclined to accept hierarchy