Monday, September 24, 2012

Mary Akers's Voice

Dear Mr. Romney,

I have a lot I want to say, but I will do my best to be brief and polite. Brief because others have already expressed many of my my thoughts, and polite because my mother taught me that everyone, no matter their circumstances or beliefs, is a human being deserving of respect and dignity.

Yes, sir, I am a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat (except for that one Ross-Perot-protest-vote), but I spend time in the company of many an honest, kind, and good Republican. My husband is one. My still sharp and lovely 90-year-old mother-in-law is one. She spent more than fifty years of her life as a minister's wife, giving freely to those in need. (Oh, sorry, I forgot, you aren't "interested" in her--because after her husband died, she became one of the nameless 47%, receiving government help with her monthly grocery bill. I wish you could see her count her pennies, rarely using her entire allotment, but never mind that.)

Look, you were talking up the big money folks in that video. I get it. Doing a wink-wink, nudge-nudge to get their support in an us-against-them way. I think we've all tried so hard to fit in to a group that we do and say things we later regret. Don't beat yourself up about it. Oh, wait. You're not beating yourself up. You're defending your remarks and calling them simply "inelegant." Well, sir, shame on you. They were not inelegant, they were callous. And ill-informed. And kind of mean. Didn't your parents teach you to be kind? Didn't your Sunday School lessons include The Golden Rule and the parable of the Good Samaritan? How about Matthew 25:45: "...Inasmuch as ye did it not unto one of these least, ye did it not unto me."?

I'm asking, because I'm thinking about my own children. They were born into a military family and moved a lot during their younger years. Then their father decided to start a new family elsewhere, and they became children of the 47%. We ate a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Ramen noodles. But every day at school they had a hot lunch provided for them at no cost to me, while I picked up the pieces of my life. It was a godsend. It was like the Good Samaritan reached down
and offered them a hand. And a hamburger. And a year or so later, guess what? We didn't need that hand anymore, but I hate to think of how many hungry days my children might have spent without it. (I know you aren't interested, but I'm going to tell you anyway.) The eldest recently graduated college (she largely paid her own way--a struggle) and now has a full time salary and a 401K. Ironically, she works as a manager at a resort that caters to the very wealthy. (You're welcome.) The middle one is a junior in college (largely paying her own way--a struggle) earning a degree in architecture with a minor in sustainability. (You're welcome.) The third is currently a high school scholar-athlete, preparing to choose his college in the coming year and he plans to enter the medical field. (You're welcome.)

Would you really have begrudged my children a hot lunch at school during their formative years? That stings, sir, I have to say, it does. My children are kind and hard-working and idealistic, and can't wait to give back to their country and help others as they have been helped. You should apologize to them, if not to all of America.

See, that's the thing you seem to have forgotten about Americans--we're a very forgiving people...unless you assert and insist that you are better than us because of money. That doesn't sit well with us, at all.


Mary Akers

Mary Akers’ debut short story collection, WOMEN UP ON BLOCKS, won the 2010 IPPY gold medal for short fiction and she co-authored a non-fiction book (ONE LIFE TO GIVE) that has sold in seven countries. She is Editor-in-chief of the online journal r.kv.r.y. and co-founder of the Institute for Tropical Marine Ecology. She received a Pushcart 2012 Special Mention and has published a book of short performance pieces for use in high school dramatic reading competitions (MEDUSA’S SONG AND OTHER STORIES). She blogs at