Tag Archive: politics

Stephan Pastis is back and this time he is skewering the U.S. Supreme Court, or maybe just politics or big business in general:

pearlsbeforegovt[For a Pearls before Swine cartoon that takes on the ridiculousness of Spinning classes at the Gym, click here]

[For a Pearls before Swine strip with an unfortunately timed innuendo pun, click here]

i don’t know a crazy lot about politics, nor do i claim to.

although i do try to keep on top of the daily/weekly goings on back home in South Africa as well as the major news events with daily visits to internet news sites like iafrica.com and bbc.com so that i have a general idea of what is going on in the world.

so when the OCCUPY movement came along, i had some idea of what it was all about, while being surrounded by a bunch of people who knew a whole lot more, including one of my housemates who got involved with doing the books for the group who were active in our nearby city of Philadelphia.

and so i didn’t know everything about OCCUPY, but then one day something happened to give me a serious opinion about them.

we had heard of this huge local craziness and cause for concern as Mayor Nutter [his actual name, go figure] put this ban into place on outdoor feeding specifically aimed at the homeless in Philadelphia and, we felt, directly aimed at removing the homeless people from two specific tourist spots, namely Love Park and the soon-to-be-opened [at the time] Barnes Museum of Art.

the Simple Way [which is the non-profit my wife Valerie and i work for] sprung into action in terms of starting conversation with a number of groups who we knew were feeding people in Philly as well as formulating an official statement and a plan of action. a number of us ended up at a meeting of the health board who were discussing some changes to health regulations that were indirectly related to the ban Mayor Nutter was trying to push through.

we decided to invite a bunch of our friends to come and unofficially picnic with us outside the building the meeting was to be taking place at [as holding picnics was a potential loophole to the ban] and Occupy Philly had had a similar idea with an impromptu soup kitchen and so we all arrived and set up and started having picnics with family and friends [where any homeless people who wandered past were immediately identified as family and friends].

so my first impression of Occupy Philly up close was that we were pretty like minded, but that disappeared pretty quickly when i saw some of the placards they had brought with them with statements like “Mayor Nutter is the antichrist” on them. [i’m fairly certain Mayor Nutter is NOT the antichrist or at the very least don’t have any information in my possession to suggest or even hint otherwise]

then we got to go inside and observe the meeting of the health board and they read through the regulations and explained the proposed changes and, for the most part they were making a lot of sense and it seemed like the majority of what they were looking at was about improving the safety of food being prepared and distributed and that’s when “THEY” started…

it’s called a ‘mic check’ and it’s about on par with a little kid mimic’ing every line you say until you are both screaming “STOP COPYING ME!” at each other and someone calls mom, or a teenager sticking their fingers in their ears making “LALALALALALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU LALALALALALALA” noise… Someone yells “mic check” and the group responds by repeating it. Then someone starts a one sided shouted ‘conversation’ or challenge and line by line or even phrase by phrase it is repeated by everyone else in the group. So it completely shuts down what anyone else is trying to do in the room, makes you the focus of attention and puts your agenda on the meeting.

let’s face it, it’s a gimmick. and it works. and it could have even probably worked in the meeting. with better control and foresight and maturity. some of the Occupy people had something good to say. but some of them didn’t. many of them just got verbally abusive and insulting and about as relevant and effective as the “Mayor Nutter is the antichrist” [he’s still not!] placard lying outside in the street against the soup kitchen table. they disrupted the meeting [which eventually after way more patience than it deserved ended up with the board walking out to finish their meeting elsewhere] and they robbed others of us who felt we had something significant and helpful to say of a voice.

and to a large extent they robbed me of having a positive opinion towards the whole Occupy movement. i know you can’t judge a whole movement by one person or group. but i also know that whenever Occupy is mentioned, that this particular story and mess of immaturity, mob mentality, disrespect is the one that comes to my mind first. and that is unfortunate.

i think for a lot of people around the country, and even the world, the Occupy movement was a legitimate response to an economic, political and social crisis and it is the hugest tragedy that their voice was drowned out by all those who jumped on the bandwagon simply because it was ‘just another cause’ or ‘an opportunity to get loud and disruptive and scream and shout and break things down’. lack of leadership and more specific direction and discipline seem to have cost it a whole lot of authenticity and respect and all this brought about by those who were sadly Self-OCCUPY’d!

i imagine this is a much bigger post or discussion than what will fit in here but let’s get it started…

a soccer player [who was worth something like 40 million something – does it really matter when you hit 40 million whether the next word is pounds, euros or dollars?] scores a goal.

a hundred facebook statuses [stati?] read something along the lines of ‘amazing goal – so worth the money spent’

i get angry. [i know, not allowed, how absolutely elizabethan of me]

i post something about how no football player [or goal] is ever worth that amount of money. especially when hundreds of thousands [millions? does it matter once you’ve gone past hundreds?] of people are literally starving to death around the world

angry mob [but since we’re online they can’t exactly storm my castle with flaming torches, especially because of the high-tech moat system i have employed]

so discussion happens. well kinda. words are written and people [a lot of them strong christian types] strongly defend the soccer player, the club, the industry, the system.

but there is a huge disconnect. because arguments will be made [with the understood eyebrow raising condescension implied as to ‘how can you even think such a thing you stupid, you.] and perhaps scripture, or scriptural ideas will be referenced and argumentative questions will be thrown [what are you saying? he should give the money back? how much of it? how much is too much?] all in defense of how much the person is worth his wages blah blah blah

what probably won’t happen is Jesus will not be quoted or referenced, because it is very hard to believe that Jesus would support the idea of a soccer player being worth millions of currency while people [specifically ‘least of these’ type people – Jesus’ favourite type it seems] are left to starve to death or barely survive in miserable circumstances and conditions.

and what also won’t happen is the people defending overpaid soccer [and you can interchange soccer for music or entertainment or business or even church leader/speaker type – the soccer one is just a more blatant example but it is the same across the board for me] player guy won’t ever make a statement that it is okay for the poor person to suffer, starve or die. the position they take leads to that natural conclusion but they won’t ever state “i am okay with the idea that for the soccer player to get 40 million something, hundreds of people will go hungry” because i don’t believe that is a defendable argument – so play the emotion, challenge the lack of viable solution, ask the argumentative question, quote some out-of-context biblical scriptural idea, but refuse to be drawn on the fact [in my opinion] that the system is horribly wrong and broken. and disgustingly so.

the “are you suggesting?” questions are difficult because i don’t know that i have a solution – i do feel that if the player got 20 somethings instead of 40 somethings then possible the people who watch the games would be able to pay half of what they pay and so there would be a lot more money around for them to be reaching out to some of their ‘least of these’ people… but finding a solution is not my initial intention, because i believe it has to start with the acknowledgement that there is a problem. [and yes the problem is the heart of man and so on, but the one we are faced with is a problem of economic disparity that can not be denied] once we acknowledge there is a problem, that the system is broken, that it is ludicrous and shameful and wrong that the soccer player/actor/singer/politician/pastor/writer gets 40 million of something while the majority of people have to live on under 2 of something a day, then hopefully we can start working together on solutions.

at the very least, let’s stop celebrating the wrongness.

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