Monday, October 03, 2011

The protestors

I have to admit, I'm sure part of this is filtered through my own feelings/experience. But I'm frustrated at the protestors and the news coverage of them.

Granted, I'm the kind of person who, if I see something I think is wrong and unjust, I'm more likely to say to myself, "Okay, what can I do to work towards fixing this" rather than "Gee, I should go and complain about it to someone." For example, if affordable housing were a big problem in my town, and I had the time and the passion, I'd join or start a Habitat for Humanity chapter*

(*And yes, I know some people have objections to some of their practices/people who were in charge/etc./etc. but I've seen some of the work they do and at the grassroots level it can be very helpful to people)

There are actually many groups in my town aimed at dealing with hunger, poverty, illiteracy, lack of job training, you name it - all groups of people, largely volunteer, who saw a problem and said, "What can I do to help fix it?" Most of these folks fly under the radar - they don't seem to want to draw much attention to themselves - but they do a lot of good work.

And that's why the people sitting on Wall Street frustrate me. Yes, there's injustice and unfairness in things (just look at BoA deciding to charge $5 a month for the privilege of a debit card - thanks, Dodd-Frank), but sitting around and complaining won't do much. (Hell, these days, writing to your Representative apparently doesn't do much, either).

I also got a distinct sense of entitlement, and possibly also privilege, off of the protestors interviewed. Several of them spoke with the undercurrent of "I want the rich people to give me stuff so I can do what I want." One guy wondered aloud why pot hadn't been legalized yet. (FWIW: I wouldn't have a huge problem with decriminalization, but it seems a lot of chronic pot-smokers don't exactly achieve a lot in life...). Several said they wanted to dismantle capitalism, but when asked, had no alternative, other than a "more just" system.

(Heh. I watched "Dr. Zhivago" on TCM this weekend...I'm now thinking of the scene when his family's home is taken over by the Bolsheviks (? I think - it was one of the "people's" groups) and 14 families installed in it - the place running to rack and ruin, presumably because no one could be arsed to take care of anything, because it wasn't their property - and Zhivago bitterly commented it was a "more just" system (ironically and bitterly - said mainly to appease the dour Party Leaders that were in charge).)

I wonder, would these folks REALLY like an old-time agrarian system, where if you don't work, you don't eat? Where there aren't thinks like iPads to be had, and Facebook doesn't exist because Mark Zuckerberg is too busy trying to keep his widowed mother alive on what grain he can grow?

(And I have to admit, I roll my eyes at everyone who talks about "evil corporations" while Googling something on their iPhone...)

I think really what a lot of the protestors think is that they're a special class who shouldn't have to work - not like those evil rich people who should work and should support them.

I don't know. I work for a living. Don't get me wrong - I enjoy my work, I feel like I'm useful to society and I'm doing something that helps people. And I enjoy getting my paycheck so I can pay my bills and go grocery shopping and maybe buy some books to read. And it irritates me to see someone who's apparently intelligent and able-bodied saying what sounds to me like, "I shouldn't have to work for a living because I don't want to." That they expect the rest of us to support them, just, well, because.

This is why I think stories like "The Little Red Hen" should be required in all grade schools. And parents should tell them to their kids. And work - whatever it is - should be seen as valuable and perhaps even noble, and that sitting around on your butt is not a desirable alternative.

No comments: