Thursday, October 27, 2011

Occupy Eureka (circa 1928)

Watching the unfolding spectacle of aggrieved young “adults” toting iphones and dining on gourmet food as they occupy Wall Street and rage against “the man,” I am literally dumb-founded at the confluence of ignorance and an abject sense of entitlement.   Consider the profound difference between the attitude on display in OWS, and that exhibited by a confessional Ronald Reagan when he looked back on his own youthful days.  In writing of his arrival at little Eureka College, Reagan confessed to his own deeply harbored perceptions of “specialness”: 

 At Eureka, I was getting ready to save the day.  Dixon High School wasn’t tiny and football was pretty important.  Eureka had gone through two disastrous seasons, so I anticipated quite a welcome...It’s tough to go from lordly senior to lowly freshman and even tougher to go from first string end to the end of the bench before the whistle blows for the first game.  I managed to accomplish this all by myself.  But in my mind I had help—heaven forbid I should take the blame!  I told everyone who would listen that the coach didn’t like me, I was the victim of unreasoning prejudice.  (Reagan, Ronald & Richard Hubeler, (1965),  Where’s the Rest of Me?, New York: Duell, Sloan, & Pearce. p. 25)

Reagan wanted a chance to contribute to the team, while the foot soldiers of “Yes we can! (but why should we, when there’s so many other hard-working people out there who could just take care of us)” just want to wear the championship ring for participation; But I’ll grant there’s some degree of similarity in their self-perception.  The real difference, between young Reagan and the latter-day aggrieved is in his mature reflection on that time of life.  When Reagan, with the wisdom born of years of hindsight, looked back on his youthful self-perception and wounded self-esteem, he therapeutically concluded:   I needed a damn good kick in the keister! (Reagan, Ronald & Richard Hubeler, (1965),  Where’s the Rest of Me?, New York: Duell, Sloan, & Pearce. p. 25) [emphasis added]

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