My parents were good working-class Americans, so they taught me to be scared and ashamed. They taught me to be afraid of unemployment, poverty, the boss and the cops. They taught me to be ashamed of most bodily functions, embarrassed if I looked poorer than I was, and terrified of what other people thought of me.
Fear and shame have been good to me. I've never cashed an unemployment check. I finished college. I own a home. And I try to walk through the world without leaving tracks. I'm the 60-year-old man in a plaid shirt eating dinner alone in McDonald's because his wife is working the night shift. I drive the speed limit. I have never been arrested, and I never use all my sick days.
I found a home in the newspaper business, and I have thrived in that home. I'll retire in 60 months, and I think about it all the time.
I've been good. I have a pension. I'll get Social Security. I have a 401(k), an IRA, stocks, bonds and savings. I should be fine.
My father, a man of few amusements, used to like to do something he always called "sitting and being quiet."
In our living room, with the television off, he'd sit for hours in a green, crushed velvet armchair sometimes reading, often not.
"It's nice just to sit and be quiet," he'd say.
I've got a lot of that planned for retirement. While I've thrived in the newspaper business, it is a job full of sudden alarms and changes in plans and, while I love writing, I like a quiet life.
That's why I hate America so much right now.
Like I said, I've been good. If I haven't been much trouble during my working life, I plan on being a hell of a lot less trouble when I retire. I'm going to sit and be quiet, read, write a little, go out for breakfast once a week and smoke a pipe. I want to be one of those old guys in a gray button-front sweater who has one errand a day. His wife is still working, and she tells him to go to the grocery and buy two potatoes. He spends the whole night before deciding which store he'll go to, deciding which route he'll take, and making sure his gray button-front sweater is in the front of his closet.
Unfortunately, due to the recent takeover of our government by the Gods, Guns and Guts Boys (and I do mean "boys"), I'm likely to retire during a revolution, or during a civil war, or maybe in a fascist government headed by President for Life Donald Trump.
I'm not joking, either. I believe Donald Trump is entirely capable of asking America to vote him in as president for life, like they do in those countries where the army runs the government, and you have to stand in line for a week to buy sausage made with sawdust and pig nose.
Or maybe the current government's 19th-century belief that six guys should have all the money in the country will lead to a complete economic collapse, in which case the money I've been hoarding for 40 years won't be enough to buy a half pound of sausage made with sawdust and pig nose.
I've been good. I've been frightened, and cautious, and embarrassed, and it's seen me through, and kept me warm, and dry, and fed, and out of jail. I just want to sit and be quiet. So, before you and the boys in your citizens militia decide to go hunting members of the other political party or shoot at the government, give a thought to the old guy eating alone in McDonald's.
To find out more about Marc Munroe Dion and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com. Dion's latest book, "The Land of Trumpin," is a collection of his columns written during America's last, turbulent presidential election. It is available in paperback through Amazon.com, and in e-book for Nook, Kindle, iBooks and GooglePlay.