Why I Support a Basic Income Guarantee

I could list lots of theoretical reasons for my support of a Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) but a lot of others have done this already, possibly much better than I could (for example here, lots more here, or listen to this). So, I want to share my personal reasons for why I want a BIG, how my life would be positively impacted by having a bottom under my feet.

butterfly_right

Basically, I am burned out from trying to do it all on my own. Yet, I cannot take a break, or even slow down, because I have to earn money to live. That’s just how the system works. I tried and failed to get around that. It just burned me out more.

What burned me out? Being in a career that was wrong for me, a career I picked because I had been discouraged to pursue what my heart was longing to do (“there’s no money in it!”). Actually, I never was supported in fully figuring out what I really long to do. On top of a career that burned me out, I raised a child by myself, not only without help from his father but with constant interference from him. As child support, I basically got peanuts. I paid to fight in court for everything from visiting my parents with their only grandchild to letting this child see a counselor so he could better deal with the damage caused by time with his father. Things got really bad when I supported my young teenage son to follow his heart and no longer spend time with his father. His father blamed me, so the whole thing landed in court. Courts don’t really give a child, no matter what age, a say, so he had a case.

When my son graduated high school, I decided to take the leap and change my life. I figured I was done raising a child and dealing with an abusive guy who, now that the child was an adult, had no longer power over me. At least so I thought. He filed one more petition around our son’s 19th birthday: To get me to pay for his court costs. Fortunately, the court didn’t agree, $3000 in legal fees later. Now I really was done with that, so I thought.

I didn’t realize that I had to heal from all that!

I had to heal from all the damage to myself from living with cognitive dissonance working for a company whose values were contrary to mine. I had to heal from several relationships with men that were unhealthy, often abusive. I had to heal from a couple of decades of chronic stress from the almost constant court action (or threat thereof), of unjustified police visits, of defending myself against false accusations. I had to heal from doing it all largely alone, with little support other than financial support from my parents, which was hugely important, especially given that my legal expenses were upward of $200,000 for divorce and aftermath. This support, money that I had planned to use in retirement, also helped me live without earning money while working toward and finishing a thesis on a topic close to my heart and life, trying to realign my life with my values by earning a second masters degree.

Unfortunately, I didn’t fully understand how much healing I have to do, so instead of spending my energy on that, I tried – and failed – to build my own business. That burned me out even more. My body seems to be slowly falling apart with psychosomatic symptoms of stress and trauma. At least on some level.

On other levels, I am getting stronger, fitter than I have ever been. I discovered belly dance. It seems like I have always been a dancer – I just didn’t know that until I turned 40. And I didn’t discover my passion for belly dance until very recently. It took yet another unhealthy relationship with a man that left me with more wounds, often going deeper than older ones because he had claimed to help me heal. Only when I ended that relationship and yet again dusted myself off to venture on did I see the benefits of having passion in my life. It didn’t have to be tied to a person. I didn’t want to risk that again.

So, yes, I am tired. I want to relax, live, and even thrive. And I want to contribute. Oh, how much I long to contribute! I want to do that differently than the standard 9-to-5 option so that I can respect my body’s limits rather than pushing against them. Working part-time now, I am not sure if I could sustain a full-time job (unless I could take naps, maybe…). I don’t earn enough working part-time to stop depleting my savings. I also dream of turning my passion for belly dance into a way of healing myself and then help others heal, transforming our traumas into thriving lives. And not have to turn that into a money-making venture. I don’t dare pursue that dream because I have no safety net. Nobody to support me with the basics. Too traumatized and too intellectually opposed to pursue the panacea given by our cultural narrative: Marriage. I have a sense if I had that kind of support guaranteed without having to be part of an institution I don’t support, if I had a basic income guarantee, I could fly. And rest when I needed to…

Instead, I cannot even relax because if I take time to heal I will continue the chronic stress created by worrying about how to survive when my savings run out. Not exactly an environment conducive to healing. So, I will have to fit the healing into time left by a job, hopefully finding one that won’t further deplete me. Still. I won’t fly. I’ll crawl.

butterfly_left

I support a Basic Income Guarantee, not because I think my situation is particularly unique. Actually, I probably have enough privilege to get by on my own (I have turned a doctor’s appointment into a part-time job, after all). I also know a lot of people have gone through way more than I have.

That is where the theory meets story. To use a (bad?) pun: BIG is bigger than me. You don’t get a BIG because you deserve it or earned it (or how else you want to linguistically hide your privilege). BIG does not discriminate. You get it because you are alive; because as a society, we have decided to support each other in following our dreams. All of us. Whether you were lucky enough to be born with privilege or not. That will be a society where we fully accept that being interdependent means being responsible for each other’s well-being.

BIG ensures that all of us have a chance at living a life without fear of poverty (and it’s comorbitities, like lack of health care).

And yet, stories tend to move us more than theory. So, I decided to share my personal story of how BIG would support me.

Fallacies and Self-Help

This post will not be about fallacies committed by so many self-help gurus (for that, I highly recommend this podcast). Instead I want to share how learning about fallacies helped me get out of my mind-induced funk.

This morning, my mind seemed to be stuck on autoplay of the same self-pity song listing all those past “wrongs” that “other people did to me.” And I was having trouble getting through rationally. Pointing out that those are really indifferents in so many ways (it’s in the past, I can’t control others, it’s not what others do but how I react to it…) didn’t seem to help. I knew that I needed to somehow figure out how to reinsert the wedge of rationality between my mind’s claim to truth and reality – and I just couldn’t figure it out.

During my workout walk, I played around with the idea of trying out dancing to that song. This didn’t feel very attractive to me because I prefer to dance with music. And I didn’t know of any music that reflects what my mind tends to do: Repeat the same thing over and over again but sounding new and unique. (If you know of a piece like this, please share in the comments!)

Once home, I proceeded to lift weights, which I do while listening to podcasts. The episode on the fallacy fallacy shifted my mind off that song to figuring out whether I had committed this fallacy in arguments with my recent partner when trying to disavow him of his belief in conspiracy theories. (Side note: Don’t try that! It’s not worth your energy! Conspiracy theorists tend to have habits of mind that prevent rational arguments, something eluded to in this episode…). Then I just got hooked on the podcast series on fallacies, listening to one after the other (moving into making lunch…). The one on the false dichotomy (re)inserted the wedge without me even realizing it.

A false dichotomy occurs when someone presents a choice of this or that, ignoring any middle ground, nuance, or further alternatives. You are either for us or against us. A person either cares or doesn’t – and if they don’t care, I get hurt (throw in a bit of the oversimplification of the strawperson). All the sudden I saw how my mind kept falling into this – the inner critic’s arguments are full of fallacies! Of course, that does not mean they aren’t true (which is another question), however, seeing those fallacies gives me the distance to evaluate their truth.

I don’t know whether Stoics looked into fallacies – my guess is they did since logic is an important aspect of philosophy, I just haven’t learned enough about Stoicism yet. Either way, investigating an argument is part of living (more) rationally, something the Stoics advocate. What I learned today is that I can also apply my critical thinking skills to what my inner critic dishes out. Next time he gets me down, I hope to remember to outline the actual argument and see what’s going on. My guess is that there’s a conclusion like “nobody likes you; you’re not good enough; what’s wrong with you?” at the bottom of some rather shaky premises. So, in logic speak, his arguments are false and invalid.

Entitlement

To help me with my Stoic experiment, I have joined a Facebook group on Stoicism. One of its members posts daily quotes. His recent choices have created some interesting discussions around luxury, wealth, and redistribution.

“No one can acquire many things without being unjust. … Because it is responsible for injustice, luxurious living must be completely avoided.” (Musonius Rufus, Lectures 20.6-7).

“Humans should use reason to assist nature to supply what is missing and remove what is excessive.” (Musonius Rufus, Lectures 21.2)


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Unshaming Abuse

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Unshame is calling for those of us who feel comfortable to come out and say: This is the face of a rape survivor. Since you can’t see me:

These are the words of a rape survivor.

I shared about that rape back in 2008. Because I have also survived abusive relationships and believe the shaming there goes even deeper, I also want to unshame that.

There is nothing shameful about being raped, sexually assaulted, or being in an abusive relationship. What is wrong is to rape, sexually assault, or abuse. As I have pointed out before, I don’t think shaming is useful, so I will not call for the perpetrators to feel ashamed. Instead, I want them to acknowledge their guilt of doing something that hurt another human being.

Throughout April, I plan to write blog posts that are loosely related to the unshaming campaign. Starting a bit early, especially if I can get a blog post out of my head into this site…

Cutting through Suffering

Delusional. That’s what she called me. A total stranger, in a comment on Facebook. As an admin, I was able to delete her comment (and others similarly hostile directed toward others). That helped a bit. Still her comment stung somehow.

I finally got myself off the procrastination wagon and out the door to the farmers market. That’s when I noticed how I was ruminating about that comment. Delusional. Just like the many other things I have been falsely accused of. Child abuse even. Was that why that hurt so much? It was as if she had inadvertently pulled off a scab. I noticed that I was close to tears. Curling up in bed and crying seemed very attractive – except that I was on my way to the farmers market.

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I Did It!

Yes, I have done it! I have finally found the right teacher and group of fellow dancers to support venturing into the world of performance.

After my last painful adventure into coupled relationships, I have noticed, as I explored what made me vulnerable, that I thrive on passion. Having read somewhere (I can’t remember where) that one can nourish a passion by committing oneself to it – based on the theory that a passion can grow with a set of skills – I decided to test this out. Because there seemed to be some seedlings of passion growing around belly dance, I consciously decided to see if I could turn belly dance into a passion for me!

It seems to be working!

One of my goals for this year was to face my performance anxiety head-on. So, when I had a chance to perform, I jumped on it, not only committing to dance in the group piece but also pushing myself to do a solo.

Photo from my first solo performance

Photo from my first solo performance

It was a very interesting challenge – and I am proud that I did it, especially because I didn’t let my anxiety stop me.
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