Sympathy and responsibility

I’m finding myself lacking in sympathy lately.

Here’s the deal. I have a brother and a half brother that both work for the same company… aircraft manufacturing.

This industry is known to be fickle. Always. Both of them have been previously laid off from other local aircraft companies… strikes happen every few years…. a few years ago even my stepdad was laid off from this exact same company where he had previously worked for around 2 decades.

So both of these brothers knew going into this job that it was fickle.

Why did they work there anyway? Because the industry has by far the best paying jobs in town. I wanna say the younger one started at something to the effect of 17 an hour.

Boeing strike. Not their company…. but their company sells its products to them. So they get cut down to 3 days a week on hours, and are told that even though the strike is over, it will stay that way until the end of the year while things get caught back up.

Yes, it sucks.

But… really? They knew strikes happen. They knew layoffs happen. They chose to work there anyway for the higher pay they have been enjoying. Both have bought houses in the past two years, and both have newer cars.

And I do respect my younger brother. He does what he needs to do… his house was a reasonable choice, in a reasonable neighborhood, at a reasonable price… and he has taken on a second job to make payments work while the days have been cut and he has two days a week free.

But when my mother starts this whole poor boys sympathy streak…. I’m just really not feeling it. And when she starts in on the older brother, even less so.

Yes, they have 4 kids. However, he is the one who has the house where we all went “how in the world did they qualify for that?”. Mom starts in with the sympathy on how expensive it is to drive all that far out there to their affluent suburb… and how expensive to heat a 4 level house where all 4 kids have their own rooms (plus a large play room). And how his take home pay is cut even more from the garnishment from a car he had repossessed a few years ago (about the 4th car he’s had repo’ed if you count the one my mom took over as hers when he was in trouble while still living at home).

The thing is, they have been getting help from mom since way before the strike. And before they even got the house for that matter. He hasn’t done anything during the strike to help himself. She works a couple of days a week as a waitress, but even that is a recent thing.

Yes, he is in trouble. Yes, he may lose the house and the cars. But… well…. he knew better. He’s been through the car thing before, and the job thing before. He took his risks, and it worked for a while. But to paint him as the poor unfortunate victim of the whole big bad economic collapse is really just giving him an excuse for not having made the responsible choices when he had the choice to make.

And what will he have to do? To have an older car…. like the rest of us. To live in a moderately sized rental home… like the rest of us. Is this really such an awful fate to pity him for? For the loss of overly costly items for the same practical choices he could have made in the first place and been better off?

To hear my mother go on, you’d think this fate would be the ultimate tragedy. I find myself wondering if she has completely forgotten some of the crappy places she has lived, and i have lived, and crappy cars we’ve driven, and the fact that we made it work and we survived and moved on. I don’t think the older brother has owned a crappy car in his life. Most of the places he has lived have had rent about double the highest my mother or I have ever paid. It’s not like his choices were made with the only available option he had in the situation and he’s still failing… he’s failing because he made choices that were more luxurious than the ones he could survive with.

I will be sad for the younger brother, who is actually trying, and does actually have a grip on reality, should he lose in the end. But I don’t think he will. I think he knows he may have some choices to make as far as cars and such in the near future if things don’t improve, and I think he will make them if he has to. He will recover.

But really…. I’m just not feeling the sympathy for the poor victims of their own risk-taking earlier choices, made knowing the possibility of the future holding what it has held. I know I probably should… but it just isn’t there. Yes, circumstances suck. Yes, other factors came into play.

But what ever happened to a concept of responsibility for risks knowingly taken?

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One thought on “Sympathy and responsibility

  1. philangelus says:

    It’s out of vogue to be responsible for one’s own actions. We’re supposed to have it all, and to have it now.

    I’m with you: I can’t sympathize with people who knowingly dig their own graves and then whine about how deep they are.

    (And technically, “sympathy” means you’ve gone through the same thing as someone, whereas “empathy” means you can feel for them although you haven’t gone through the same thing. So you *cannot* feel sympathy for him, and you don’t feel empathy for his situation.)

    But yeah, responsibility is out of vogue.

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