Sunday, December 11, 2011

I Am The One-Hundred Percent [Casey]


There has been much talk about class warfare, and about who holds the majority opinion of how to manage the business of the day. This talk is nothing new to me – I’ve been hearing the discussion my entire life. Now, approaching the age of forty, I have witnessed the rise of the very ideology that I saw defeated in my youth. Socialism both at home under Carter and abroad under the Iron Fist of the Soviets suffered defeat in a globally public forum. I remember adults at the time saying that they would remember and never allow such transgressions occur again.

So, here we all are today feeling a sick sense of déjà vu and we are listening to the left in their greatest voice: that of the civil protest. The Occupy movement has generated much conversation, and that is a good thing. However, it seems to me that very little focus finds itself on the rebuttal to this movement. I recall the media ramping up into overdrive to dilute and minimize the message of the Tea Party movement; yet see the same media operate in equal diligence to legitimize the primary theme of the Occupy movement: a percentage.

Ninety-nine percent is what the far left claim themselves to be. The one percent are the ones they aim to … uhm … what do they aim for? Never mind. As such, since I think the ideology of the left is bad policy, I must be the one percent. True, I make money. True, I make enough to pay taxes. I guess those protesters were right – I AM THE ONE PERCENT!

Should I repent?

The truth is that I really can see myself as the one percent. Those jerks out causing trouble under the banner of their media-approved, Twitter-hash-tagged movement may be right that I am the one percent, but they are wrong about why. If I am the one percent, I am because I contend with a situation most of these people know little about.

I am a man of communication. From a very early age, I began to write. I wrote stories, poems, limericks (one that got me in some trouble), and songs. As years grew on, I began to hone my communication skills verbally. Before too long, I found myself successful in sales specifically due to my ability to communicate with people from all walks in life. I also found success in writing and producing songs – communicating complex emotional states in a way that large cross-sections of people equally comprehend. Suffice it to say that the written, spoken, and harmonized words are the mainstay of my being.

In my mid-thirties, I found new inspiration for my words in a new life with a new wife and newborn son. My wife, like me, is a person of words and song. Our kinship of communication contributed to the forces which brought us together. Our son would become the nexus of our affinity for communication of all things which make us human. Then, we felt as if we became the one percent.

Our son, diagnosed with Autism, is a joy and a true miracle to our lives. Neither of us thought we would be able to conceive based on our prior life experience. Nonetheless, we have a beautiful and healthy boy – a boy who has a funny personality, sense of humor, and loving disposition … and Autism. We are fortunate that he does actually have the personality and emotional response that so many with this affliction lack. However, he has a severe impairment with communication.

Put simply, our son’s condition inhibits the one thing my wife and I understand. His disability is centered on communication. While we hold hope that we can overcome these obstacles in his ability to communicate and to assimilate into society, I cannot help but fret at the unfairness of it all. I have always been a man of passionate communication and I can barely connect with my own son.

One thing is for certain: I have heard enough from the “ninety-nine percent”. They complain incessantly about fairness. Perhaps they are right that ninety-nine percent of people get the unfair side of life. Regardless, they seem to be asking for someone else to make it fair. That’s where my situation illustrates it all best. There is no government agency, program, mandate, edict, law, or otherwise generated program that can make my situation fair. I am a man of communication and am facing the possibility that I might never be able to communicate with my own son – ever. Do I or should I ask the government to make this fair? What would the government solution to my unfair situation look like?

When viewing my situation locally, I considered myself the one percent. It hurts so much to know that I may never be able to communicate with my son that I can barely finish a day without tears of sorrow. As a songwriter, it is hard to think that your son might not like your music. It is crushing to think he might not ever understand it. Then, I hear and read about others who endure so much worse than my situation. Epilepsy, Down’s syndrome, etcetera; mine is a situation that could be so much more severe that I pause to even lament it.

When viewing my situation nationally, I am really more along the lines of the middle thirty-three percent. If I were to “zoom out” to a global view, I would estimate myself to be in the top eighty-five percent. So, what does this whole rant mean?

Anyone claiming to be ninety-nine percent of anything is completely disingenuous. Anyone identifying anyone else as one percent of anything is equally deceitful. Regardless of color or creed, wealth inherited or earned, poverty inherited or earned, or defect of body or spirit, we all have our paths to walk. Rarely is this path devoid of pitfall or pain. How we traverse this path defines us, and I will not have others so easily dismiss my path with an arbitrary percentage used to punctuate a point which otherwise makes little sense.

No matter the pain, my wife and I raise our son with pride. We do so without looking to blame anyone else or looking for others to pay us their fair share for having a better situation than ours. We don’t begrudge those with children free of disability – we celebrate them. We don’t for a moment think that these people owe us anything because their kids don’t have Autism and our does. How is this different from income levels?

We are all the one-hundred percent. The only intellectually honest percentage that can be applied is that we are all human. We all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.

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