Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Prescription for Perception

Unless they have had a change in plans, at some point today my brother Bill and his son/my nephew Patrick will leave the Nutmeg State behind to descend upon Lower Manhattan and join those who have been a funky, ragtag occupying force for the past month or so. Everyone who is there has his or her reasons for being there. Neither my brother nor my nephew is any different. I admire their courage. Taking a stand for something in which you believe is done far more readily on screen than it is in real life. As someone whose track record of personal bravery is fairly light, I wish them well. I hope most of all that their trip is a safe one. I would wager that I am far more concerned about their safety than either of them.

I know that people are of many minds in these United States regarding these "Occupy" protests. There are those who support the positions espoused by those doing the protesting and those who proclaim their vehement opposition to those positions. I care not what your particular position is on the issue. I just know that I chuckle every time some talking head on TV (Mr. Hannity jumps immediately to mind) assails those doing the protesting as being "Un-American". Is there any more vacuous yet damning insult that we have learned to hurl at our political enemies during these past ten years that that one? When you and I disagree, my default position too often is, "You are being anti-American." Worse yet, it is your default position as well. Sad.

It is sad that our intellectual laziness has manifested itself not in apathy but in anger. Why bother to explore the validity of an adverse position? No need to as long as my voice holds out. Impossible to listen when I cannot hear your voice over the sound of my own. Best two out of three ear bleeds wins. We have become proof positive that Ambrose Bierce was right and that, "Politics is the strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles."

The two members of the Kenny Family who are joining the fray today are the best and the brightest our little bramble bush has to offer. Both will travel with open eyes, open ears and - most important of all - open minds. All of which are tools that will enable them to process all that is going on around them.

The great Pete Hamill, in Downtown: My Manhattan wrote, "Sometimes no truth is more powerful than one expressed in anger by a melancholy man." If there is one thing the Irish know, it is melancholy. We practically invented it. Perhaps the addition of two more Irishmen into this particular stew will make it make better sense to those of us who know enough to know that we do not know all there is to know about it.

Knowledge is good. But you need not take my word for it.

Ask Emil Faber.

-AK

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