Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Random Wednesday

Today is Respect Your Cat Day. I must say that my offerings of respect entail no more than not scooping them up and tossing them on my shoulder whenever I feel like it. That and promising not to post any embarrassing pictures. Today.

I woke up from a dream that Donny Osmond was singing "Fernando". I know it was most likely due to unfiled bits of memory from the night of the play Mama Mia when my mom and I were talking about Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Coat and I wondered if Donny would be in the touring version (probably not). But it was still a disturbing image to awaken with.

We watched the movie Happy Feet last night. I'd heard some right wing types had complained about the liberal leanings of the film. They were wrong. The film didn't lean, it was standing tall and proud in leftsville. I loved it. It made me cry.

Spoiler Alert!!!!
If you haven't seen The Pursuit of Happyness, stop right here!

Then we watched The Pursuit of Happyness. I can't remember when a movie made me have to get up and leave the room. Even when I came back, I couldn't stop crying for a moment. And what made me cry was that little five year old boy bumping around after his father and the care the father took to present a positive face to to the boy. I thought that there were thousands of kids in that position in this country right now.

And I'd heard some criticism of the movie from the left. That it gave ammunition to those on the right who would point to it and say, "That guy did it without government handouts, why can't you?"

But I thought the movie did a good job (except for the annoyingly convenient run-ins with various crazy people who stole his equipment right when he really needed money) with illustrating how Chris Gardner was an exceptional person. He was (is) smarter than the average Joe, he'd had some sort of discipline in his life (he mentioned being in the Navy), he was not drug/alcohol dependent, he was not mentally ill, he was savvy enough to know to hide his personal problems from the people at the brokerage firm where he was trying to get a job.

All those pluses added up for him. Subtract any one or all and you have someone who needs assistance. This is where my thoughts on government assistance come in play. If we really want to get people off of welfare and in to the workforce, we need to address those issues first. They must be sober, they must be mentally sound, they must have proper education and they must have a basic understanding of the workplace "rules". Only then will we begin to see successes in this area.

Another thing about this movie, is that I think it did a very good job of showing all the stumbling blocks that could have caused a person with less confidence and determination to just give up. I am thinking of the scene where the Big Guy forgot his wallet and asked Chris to lend him five dollars. Nothing to you or me, but it meant everything to Chris and his son. It meant no food that night, no bus ride, so no stay at the shelter. Would you have had the strength of will to risk a night on the street for your five year old, knowing it might not pay off in the long run?

I admire people like Chris Gardner. Hell, my own story could be a much less dramatic (I only had to live in a nasty trailer park, not a shelter) version of his (plus I didn't end up a multi-millionaire). But I know that not everyone can do it. Not alone.

And I'm willing to help those who want the help.

Thor sez: Respect the nap!
(Photo by JAZ)

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