Recent comments by presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann have stirred up the discussion about gay marriage once again. While speaking to a group of high school…
“You just don’t understand.”
In some way, we’ve all been on one side or another of that phrase. Chances are good that you’ve said it to your parents at some point in your life. And, if you’re a parent, chances are even better that it’s been said to you. Most of the time, we use it to blow-off someone we’re tired of dealing with, a nice way of saying “I’m tired of wasting my time trying to convince someone as thick as you, so I’m done”.
Trust me, I’m not trying to blow anyone off, here. I said it because, in the case of the Occupy protests, it fits. I’m sure you’re wondering, ”Is he talking about me?” Maybe, it depends on who you are. If you’re a young adult burdened with excessive college debt, a former home owner who got burned in the collapse of the housing bubble, an unemployed (or under-employed) individual who’s struggling to make ends meet, or any other person whose situation has been adversely affected by the current economy, no, I’m not talking about you. You most certainly get it. If you’re younger, say under 30, and make extensive use of social media, I’m probably not talking about you, either. If, however, you’re an older person, especially my generation (I’m 50), still own your own home, have a little money in the bank, a retirement account, maybe even have enough extra to invest, I am talking about you.
All too many people my age don’t get what’s going on with the Occupy protests. Even though most of us are at least old enough to remember the counterculture movement of the 60′s, this new thing is different. It freaks us out and we just want it to go away.
It’s different because it hits in that most vulnerable spot: the pocketbook. In 1968, we had nothing invested in the system, so changing it didn’t really bother us. That’s not that the case anymore. Like our parents and grandparents forty-three years ago, we’re the ones benefiting from the status quo. Because of that, most of my peer group has had less than good things to say about the phenomenon occurring on Wall Street and across the country. Most seem to think the protesters are clueless rich kids sitting around bitching about capitalism on their iPhones and computers; things produced by the very thing they’re against.
Just a few days ago, in my Sunday school class, someone said the protesters weren’t poor because they didn’t have jobs, yet they were equipped with all sorts of electronics and such. Someone else suggested if they really wanted to help the poor, they should go volunteer in a shelter or something. They just didn’t get it.
The fact is these protests aren’t about hand outs for poor people; which, let’s face it, are band aids at best. They’re about fixing a broken economic system so hand outs won’t be necessary. Evidently, that’s a hard concept to grasp when your job is relatively secure, your bills are caught up and you’re not on the ragged edge of foreclosure.
For some reason, whether it’s fear, loathing or apathy, too many Americans don’t understand what’s happening all over America. Fear because, if this catches on, we might not be able to keep all our money. Apathy because fixing something as big and broken as the economy is hard and it’s so much easier to ignore it. Loathing because people seem to think the protesters are a collection of wannabe hippies, commies, anarchists and general nut jobs that want our stuff. They’re right about the first two; it is going to be hard to fix this broken, corrupt system and, yes, it’s going to require some sacrifice on our part. As for who’s doing the protesting, listen to what Bill Maher said on his show, Real Time
“These people down there, they’re not the counter-culture.”
“They’re the culture.”
“They don’t want free love, they want paid employment.”
“They don’t hate capitalism, they hate what’s been done to it.”
“And they resent the Republican mantra that the market perfectly rewards the hardworking and punishes the lazy. And the poor are just jealous moochers who want a hand out.”
“Yeah, cuz if there’s one group of people who hate hand outs it’s Wall Street.”
Now, there’s someone who gets it.