Guess I have always been a pleb. That’s surely because I come from a long line of plebs. Not a king or a prince or an emperor or a queen in my ancestry. Or a lord or a lady either. Take my ancestry all the way back to Adam and Eve and you’ll get folks who had to scrounge and dig up dirt that was not meant to be dug up. If we farmed, it was scrub land and all you got on that piece of dirt is rock and weeds.
No one in my family ever discovered oil or gold. If we went to a place like California, we were always a day late and a dollar short. Mostly my folks were nickeled and dimed till we ran out of nickels and dimes, and still they went after the nickel and dimes we got on credit. That’s my history. If I was anything in a former life, it was probably a serf.
The one thing I do take pride in is that my people were working folk. They worked and scrounged to have what little they had. I was the first in my family to go to college. Few before me even finished high school.
All of them were a good hearted breed who would give the shirts off their backs if you needed. You’d better’n not try to take it, but, if you asked, they’d give it to you. Most of them worked the land. But some became barbers and mill workers. Just a bunch of simple folk as in the song from Camelot: “What do the simple folk do?” That was my people.
We came from the backwaters of Scotland and Ireland and England and Wales, France and Germany and Scandinavian and Italy, Egypt and Uganda, Iran and India and Vietnam, Japan and the Philippines. All of us plebs. But you know what? It’s been us plebs who have been the backbone of this country. From the Revolutionary War to the Civil War to World War II to Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan, we’ve been there. You’ll find quite a few of us in Arlington Cemetery.
Being plebs, we love our country and we don’t like to be pushed around. Whether it’s by the government or by Osama bin Laden or some boss who wants us to work for dirt wages. We push back. When push comes to shove, we’ll kick butt. Now I know that the Bible says, “Turn the other cheek.” We try to do that best we know how. But there is a limit to cheek-turning.
All we want is a good job and a good life for our families, that our kids grow up safe and sound and have a chance for something better. It’s in the Declaration of Independence. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That’s what we hold dear. And we don’t trust anybody in power. ‘Cause we’ve seen power shoved down the throats of too many folks.
In Roman times, Rome had two classes of people. The patricians who ran things and owned land and all. Their families went way back to Romulus and Remus. They were that one percent. The other class was the plebeian. They were everybody else.
So that’s where I stack up on the hierarchy of things. So like I say, “I am a pleb and damn proud of it, y’all.” I am in some pretty good company. Satchmo, Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Bruce Springsteen, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Michael Caine, Johnny Cash, Cesar Chavez. Just to name a few. Pretty good company I’d say.
I imagine a lot of you probably come from plebs too. So join me and rejoice. Celebrate your pleb-ness.