I met a man at the 7-11 on the way to work this morning and our meeting made me cry.
Here’s the thing, I’m not really the kind of guy that is going to go downtown and occupy L.A. I find the occupy movement to be rather confusing. I realize that there are many people with legitimate concerns about inequity of opportunity in the U.S. and I actually find that I identify with those sentiments. I actually don’t think that a reasonable degree of inequity in a society is not a bad thing as long as there is also a reasonable degree of equity of opportunity for people. I admit that I think that the economic system in the U.S. has gotten out of balance on this point, but I’m not sure what should be done to fix it.
I get a bit flummoxed by the movement, however, when members of occupy Oakland close the port in an effort to launch a general strike, or carry signs that say, “end capitalism,” or “business is the 100% of the problem.” I don’t want to end capitalism. It’s imperfect, but it sure seems better than the alternatives I’ve seen in my lifetime. A minority of occupy protesters tweet and blog about how business is the whole problem on their smart phones that are made by … BUSINESSES! Business does a lot of things that are good, too!
Anyway … I met a man outside the 7-11 who asked me for some change so he could buy some food. It was freezing out and he looked cold and hungry. I introduced myself, shook his hand, and handed him just a few dollars. He was so happy at my embarrassingly small gesture that he began to tear before thanking me and going in to the store to buy a chilli dog.
I got into my car and cried as I drove to work. I cried because I had the good luck to be born into a family that bought me the best education they could afford. I cried because I have the good luck to have a job. I cried because I’ve had the good luck to meet a significant other that has the financial skills to make us financially secure. And I cried because nobody should have to be hungry in the richest country in the world …
I don’t know what the solution is, but I do know that right now we’re pretty messed up.