Monday, October 10, 2011

Reflecting on the Occupiers

They are a new kind of movement. They call themselves the 99%. They started out by occupying Wall Street, and now, Occupy movements are springing up in every city and nearly every major college campus.

I applaud them for wanting to bring change to something that they see as being wrong. After all, we live in a country that was founded on that (and related) principle.

However, what is it that they want to change and what do they want to change it to? They seem to be against capitalism. Yet, most of them carry items routinely that you just don't see people carrying in countries that are not based on capitalism. Where else but the United States would you see the unemployed carrying the latest iPhone, a Kindle, an Eddie Bauer backpack? And, where else but the United States would you see an unemployed worker driving to a demonstration in a new BMW? Surely, this has come from capitalism, the very thing that the Occupy-ers want to see go away.

They also appear to be very communal, as compared to individual, in nature. In fact, in their occupation in Atlanta, they are not allowing outside speakers. Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) made an effort this morning to speak to them, and he is a supporter of theirs. They turned him down saying that would make him look more important than the movement. And, when people within the movement speak, no applause is allowed as this would interrupt the speaker. Instead, they hold their index fingers in the air and wiggle them.


While I don't think I agree with the Occupy movement, I think they could make a positive difference. But, they need a plan. They need to identify what needs to be changed and what it needs to be changed to. And, then they need to work within the system to change it. I'm sorry. We are a country with a Constitution and we have laws. You don't get to just take up space and effect change.

Perhaps we shall see. In the meantime, I remain mystified. I just can't see the point of camping out forever to protest something, and not even present a potential solution.

Maybe I've gotten old.

Monday, October 3, 2011

When Humanity Overtakes Politics

Yesterday, I witnessed a stirring event. It happened to be at a political event, but it wasn't about the politics. Personally, I think that regardless of your politics, you will find something more important in this one.

If you are reading this, there is a reasonable chance that you know that I am the father of an autistic son. Jimmy is 26 now, and while he does have political views, the issues that matter to him are probably not the issues that matter to you, or to me. That doesn't matter.

In any event, there were four of us having a family lunch at The Olde Blind Dog in a town called Milton in north Fulton County, GA. Outside, there were people gathered, a lot of people. They were there to see Herman Cain, a candidate for the Republican nomination for President of the United States. Right around the time he began to speak, we went outside to hear him as well. We were there among probably 1500-2000 people (guessing, but I know that he was signing 500 books for attendees and there were plenty who were after number 500 in line, as well as the many who chose not to buy his book).

After his speech ended, we moved to a shady area around the side of the building. Mr. Cain was signing books. From where we were standing, we had a pretty good view of him, albeit from behind.

To fully understand this, consider the day. Mr. Cain was at The Olde Blind Dog from 3:00 until 4:30. He had a 6:00 commitment at Peachtree-Dekalb Airport, a good distance away. Said differently, he was on a very tight schedule.

It doesn't matter how it happened, but let me assure you that no money was involved. Mr. Cain was on his way to his car after finishing the book signings. He stopped off to speak with Jimmy. They shook hands. Herman Cain asked Jimmy if there was anything he wanted to ask him. Jimmy told him his two priorities.

During that time, there were a few things that I noticed. Herman never took his eyes of Jimmy. He never let go of his hand. He listened carefully and he responded to both points. Then he shook Jimmy's hand again, got in his car and headed to Peachtree-Dekalb.

You may love Herman Cain's politics. You may despise Herman Cain's politics. You know what, this is a free country and I support your right to have your feelings, whatever they may be. But, regardless of political leanings, I was truly impressed with the man. This was an exhibition of true human kindness that you just don't see every day.

Vote as you see fit. If you think that the President has been doing a good job, then please get to the polls next November and support his re-election. If you think that a Republican could do a better job, then show your support in the primaries and hope that you can vote for your candidate of choice in November. This is all part of what makes the United States the greatest country in the world.

But, no matter how you vote, do not disparage this man.

Do not disparage this man!