cd7-11-03
Article Overview:   Calling people Yuppies may be as harsh as using words like "nigger," "chink," "Jew," "loser," "butt ugly," "stupid," "worthless" or any host of prejudicial inflammatory invectives.    To group people into categories and label them is an act of Terrorism, for it ruthlessly dehumanizes all those who are the target.    I learned this lesson the hard way, by using the "Y" word, the Yuppie Word.  Find out what I learned.

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Friday--July 11, 2003óGround Zero Plus 667
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The Terror of Using the "Y"-Word:  A Mea Culpa On The Mis-use Of The Word "Yuppie"
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by
Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

  GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--July 11, 2003--  There is Terror in issuing a "sweeping judgment" over people, places and things.   It is like rubbing an eraser over a section of humanity.  It extricates those who "appear" outside one's circle of "acceptance."  It's a mass assassination of their character.

There is Terrorism in issuing a "sweeping judgment"

      Some people sweep judgment on groups of others based on a person's color, or their economic or academic status, or sometimes by how "fat" they are, or whether they speak correctly.    Others tend to lump people into segregated herds based on their religion, attacking Jews or Muslims, or, Christians simply because of their choice of worship or birth into a group.
     The derision becomes fractional when such groups as the Irish and Protestant go to war over the righteousness of beliefs within beliefs.
     Middle East jihads against the infidels lead to the bombing of World Trade Centers and snipers picking off American troops trying to restore Liberty where Tyranny's shadow still casts its twisted silhouette.
     Some bigots whittle their world of prejudice so small they elect to search for defects in the shape of a person's teeth, or a blemish, or as actor Jason Alexander did in the movie, "Shallow Hal," fault a beautiful woman for having an elongated toe, thus marring her beauty within by the measure of her outside.
      I am a personal victim of group assassination.  Most of mine is self inflicted.
      As a teen, I attacked my own nose.    A thin kid as I was shooting up to six feet four inches, I was conscious of all my physical defects.   I could tell you how many pimples I had, and how each was the "mark of a leper."
      My legs and upper arms, to me, were mere sticks with a few pieces of flesh tacked on.   But my crowning defect was my nose.
       I was sure it was far too long for my face, even though no one ever said a word to me about it.
       Like the religious fanatic with the cat-of-nine-tails whipping himself for impure thoughts, I would stand sideways to the mirror, holding a hand mirror up against my face to better study the ugliness of my profile.  There was no doubt in my self-deprecating mind that my nose was a hose hanging off my face.  My nose was punctuated by my defective upper lip that seemed to grotesquely cantilever over my lower one the longer I studied my nose.  Fault finders keep looking until all they see is ugliness.   I did that well, unto myself.
        It turned out that I wasn't as ugly as I thought, in fact, to many I was called handsome, but nevertheless, during those sorry years of puberty,  I ravaged my mind with my own depreciation of my image until I felt I was as ugly as any duckling could be.   I had Terrorized myself.  I had castigated my being and chosen to judge what was inside by the view from the outside.
       That's probably why I cast about the word "Yuppie" the other day in a disparaging way, forgetting that to some the word is like hot lava.   The "Y"-word incident reminded me of the dangers of quick group judgments, and the Terror they create.
      I was reminded that when we cast dispersions on others based on "group prejudice," we feed the Beast of Terror.  He likes us to measure the outsides, not the insides, of our fellow human beings.
       The Beast of Terror knows the more we separate ourselves from another human being by building walls, real or imagined, the harder it becomes to scale those walls and embrace everyone as an ally in the battle for Vigilance.    Even what may appear as a simple lumping of certain traits into the word "Yuppie" can drive away people who hate labels and deny their membership in such a group, even if the vast majority of people might typecast them in that role for a wide range of reasons.

The Beast can turn us into ravaging animals of selfish despair

     Judging other on sight is part of human nature.  It may not be the best part, but is a device people use to be attracted to or repelled by certain groups.
     For some people turning the corner on Central Park West and 66th and running into a herd of Hells Angels' blocking the sidewalk, might just opt to turn around and beat a path the other way, or make a wide berth around them.    They may not realize the Hells Angels' are passing out Bible scriptures because they judged the tattoos, and burly hirsute bodies, and smell of grease as warnings rather than invitations.
      The Beast--that force seeking to turn us all into ravaging animals of selfish despair--wants us to cleave ourselves from one another.   He wants the poor to hate the rich, the uneducated to feel oppressed by the more schooled, the well-dressed to shun the poorer clothed, the Liberal to spew venom at the Conservative.
      He wants the white to get angry at the black for constantly playing the "race card" to achieve, and the black to want to avenge all the injustice paid upon them by the whites.
      He wants the fat or thin or "ugly" child to shy from others, hiding in the dark canyons of self impotence and turning into a victim who becomes a doormat over whose body others climb the ladder of success.
       There are endless permutations of "group" isolation, either by individuals seeking to ban themselves from society based on "what they think others think," or, literally being driven to private refuge by heartless comments and jibes that spear into their souls and scar them forever, words like:  "nigger," "kike," "raghead," "chink," "fatso," "spic," "ugly," "stupid," "you're a nobody," "loser," "worthless," and, my new derogation, "Yuppie!"
        It seems I recently slung that word around, unaware of its brutality.

Go To Story On Kevin Gleason

       A couple of days ago I wrote a story about Kevin Gleason, a 25-year-old New York City man who has chosen to join the Navy and become a corpsman.   Kevin is a seasoned paramedic, and while he is working for ConEd and living on the Upper East Side, he volunteers as a paramedic in Central Park during weekends and is far from being a "Yuppie" in the classic sense.

To me, Yuppies are more interested in the selfish attainment of Life's securities than the selfless risks of life's insecurities

      I titled the story about Kevin:  "A Yuppie's Duty To Battle The Beast of Terror."   I chose the theme of "Yuppie" to illustrate how Kevin was under pressure by those around him to not join the Navy and not risk his life as a corpsman versus remaining in the "safety" of civilian life, pursing non-combatant dreams and glories.
     "Yuppies," in my book, are selfish young people who shirk and shun patriotic duties on the assumption someone else can do them.    They eat the fruits of Liberty but are above picking them.   They like upward mobility, money, security and safety.    They might wave a flag if it looks good, or drop down to the soup kitchen on Thanksgiving to help out, but whatever they do they boast about it.   Service to them is also social currency.
        In my story about Kevin Gleason, I used the image of Yuppie as a contrast to what Kevin really was.    At first, I thought he might be one--a Yuppie.   That was all based on my incredible inability to see inside a person.
        The guy was simply sitting on a park bench, innocently watching a softball game in Central Park.   He just looked the part.  He looked like a successful 25-year-old New York male, seeking to climb the ladder of success within the Big Apple.
         As we talked, he mentioned living on the Upper West Side, and working for a big company.   I made the early assumption he was an "upwardly mobile" guy until I later found out he was giving it all up to become a Navy corpsman and to fulfill an inner need he has to serve his country.
         What he appeared to be and what he was were in critical contrast.   My vision of the Yuppie isn't a guy willing to give up the fruits of success for the battlefields of the Congo, being attacked by Tse Tse flies as well as bullets, all for a couple of hundred bucks a week and a rack with a hundred other sweaty, burping, flatulating guys.
          The Yuppie I had in mind was driving the Lincoln Navigator, or planning on it.   His 401k was already bulging, and he was the first to run up and slap a guy like Kevin on the back and say aloud:  "Good choice, I'm proud of you!"  And then when Kevin was out of earshot, whisper:  "Wow, that guy has got to be nuts--all that going for him and he's giving it up!  Better him than me!"
        I confess.  I used the word "Yuppie" as an editorial anvil to smash my Vigilance sledgehammer upon a group known for its aversion to anything that impedes its goal of success.  
        To me, a "Yuppie" is the younger, upwardly mobile person more interested in the selfish attainment of life's securities than in the selfless risks of life's insecurities.   That is a sweeping indictment.   To "group watchers" it may be true, but to "group haters" it's just another form of prejudice.
        In using the word "Yuppie," I passed judgment over all young people who don't leap up and grab the Sword of Vigilance and rush to the far corners of the earth with a willingness to sacrifice themselves for others.  Thus, I diminished the value of many brave and courageous young people who serve in a variety of ways.
        This error was brought to my attention in a no-holds-barred  e-mail.   In it the author corrected me and said that Kevin was not a Yuppie, neither was her boyfriend who played softball, or the members of Goldman Sachs, an opposing team playing a group of construction workers.
        In part, her e-mail said:  "
Again I want to let you know that I think the article was a well deserved tribute to Kevin and all those who, like him, want to serve our country. My father, my uncle, and several cousins have all served in the military and I have boundless respect for not only our nation's military, but also our city's civil service employees who put their safety on the line every day to ensure ours(not only Kevin, but 2 other police officer friends were on the scene of the towers on 9/11). However, I do think it is important to look beyond any outside stigmas and appearances.  Those young goldman sach's players opposing your friend's softball team of construction workers may well be Kevin Gleason's themselves.  Sweeping judgments cant ever do anything but hurt others....."
        My reaction at first was defensive.  However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I had taken a group and bashed it.    The Goldman Sachs players could well have a "Kevin" among them.    And, military service is one of many ways to serve a nation, a public and the world.
       My issue, I believe, is in the area of Complacency.   When a large number of people want others to protect them, and don't feel the personal duty or responsibility to do it themselves, I get concerned.  
       Maybe that's why Kevin leaped out at me as a symbol.
       He had a choice to go one way and chose another.   My error was in making all who do not chose that choice wrong, or implying it.  I generalized the Complacency of Society with the word Yuppie.  Not a wise choice.

Suspicious "Yuppie-activity"

       Human nature is tricky.  I find it hard not to lump people into groups, to sort them as though they were change in my pocket, deciding where to invest my time and efforts.
        This is a dehumanizing process.
        I remember as a child feeling ostracized from the group of other children because my mother was divorced.  In the small town of Hood River, Oregon, a divorced woman with children was taboo.  I felt the alienation and isolation of people turning away because of a stigma.

MEA MAXIMA CULPA

       When I notice a very rich person draped in wealth, I am quick to think he or she raped, pillaged and plundered the innocent to get it.  I rarely think the person may have created multiple jobs for people, fired the engines of industry, and served the wealth of the nation.
        So, I want to thank the writer of the e-mail for reminding me not to disparage groups.
        I can't say I won't, because I didn't think I did when I wrote what I wrote.   Sometimes it takes a mirror to tell us we aren't as smart as we thought.
        But, if anyone out there doesn't want to be a Yuppie, you're not.   It's my Mea Culpa.
        Instead, I appoint you all Soldiers or Corpsmen of Vigilance.
        And, I open myself to growth so the Beast of Terror can't use my fingers and words to trick me into thinking I know everything.
      
 

July 10--666: A Reminder That Evil Stalks Vigilance

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