Things that make me smile
We all need things that remind us to smile this week.
Tonight, we’re going to see It’s a Wonderful Life at the Regent Square Theater. That makes me smile. Why watch it again on TV with all those commercials? I’m looking forward to seeing it the way it was meant to be seen — on the big screen. Any Pittsburgh peeps who want to go, it’s at 8:00 p.m. and is free if you bring a non-perishable food item to donate. Actually, it’s playing there through Saturday but all the cool people are going tonight. So, be there or be Regent Square.
Here are some more smiles for me. Some are merely light-hearted amusement, while others signal some meaningful progress.
This awesome moment was all over the Internet on Wednesday, but I thought it merited inclusion, just in case you didn’t catch it.
The child belongs to a White House staffer and this was just outside of the Oval Office. But how awesome must it be to be able to go into the White House in a Spiderman outfit? And to have the President go along with it.
Next, just another thing that made me smile. For some reason, radical preacher Terry Jones (the guy who tried to burn the Qur’an in Florida, not the Monty Python actor) thought his message would go over well in Times Square. What I find amazing is that he wasn’t beaten up by some Guido; he was simply drowned out with another message.
How ’bout that? The Beatles are sometimes more biblical than certain radical interpretations of the Bible. (Checking for lightning.)
And from that, we go to a fun parody. This can only be properly enjoyed by that segment of the population who watches both Downton Abbey and Breaking Bad. That’s probably a pretty small cross-section, but for those few people, I give you (pardon the ads and the set-up) Breaking Abbey. Sorry I couldn’t imbed it. Viacom doesn’t like the You Tube, so you’ll just have to go to the link and then come back. But how awesome are the actors from Downton for doing this, by the way?
And how about a movie suggestion for all you Mayans on Friday. Last week, a movie popped to the top of my Netflix list that I had put on there and promptly forgot. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is strange casting, but it works. It was a rather surprising treat.
It’s a quirky little movie that isn’t awesome, but had me laughing out loud several times. It’s definitely worth a rental or live stream, especially on Friday.
And now for a serious smile inducer. For whatever you thought of Occupy Wall Street, I would argue that they are having a greater impact (with less publicity) now than when they were camped out in Zuccoti Park. Don’t get me wrong, Zuccoti was necessary for the movement, but now they are really making a difference.
First, was their response to Hurricane Sandy. Many Long Island and Brooklyn residents will tell you that when the Red Cross and Allstate were hard to find in the storm’s aftermath, Occupy Sandy was there with blankets, flash lights, batteries, food, and medical supplies… all the items that affected New Yorkers needed. They used social media to set up donation centers, recruit and deploy volunteers, and distribute goods in a way that was, and continues to be, truly impressive. You can read about their efforts here. The are still raising money here.
Another of the many subgroups that emerged from Occupy has started a project called The Rolling Jubilee. Jubilee is actually a term from the Old Testament (Leviticus 25) in which the people of Israel were to have all of their debts forgiven every fifty years. In the Bible, it mainly had to do with property rights and indentured servitude, i.e., you’d get your land back and the slaves would be freed to return to their clans. As far as Bible scholars can tell, this Bible concept never actually put into practice. Until now.
As you probably know, banks that can’t collect on debt have two options of getting the bad loans off of their books. 1.) They write it off. But more often they choose 2.) sell the debt to a collection companty for pennies on the dollar. Then, the collection company aggressively pursues the debtor to get back anything they can. For instance, if they buy the debt from the bank at 4 cents on the dollar, they may try to collect 8 cents on the dollar to make their profit. Well, Occupy is now using this system to bid against collection companies to buy back debt as these discount rates. Only, instead of going after the debtor, they simply forgive the debt. Genius, right? They are specifically concentrating on medical debt, the idea being that no one should have to go into a lifetime of debt due to an appendectomy.
In November, they had a telethon to raise money for the purpose of buying the debts. They hoped to raise around $50,000 but took in $500,000! With that money, they bought and forgave $10 million of medical debt. To get involved, check them out at www.rollingjubilee.org.
And I was truly inspired by the life of Sen. Daniel Inouye, who passed away this week. As long as Hawaii has been a state, Inouye has been their Senator.
As a young teen and U.S. citizen, he was labeled an “enemy alien” after Pearl Harbor. Still, his dream was to fight for the United States, so he petitioned the government to remove the label and allow him to fight for his country, and he prevailed. He not only fought for his county, but he stormed three Nazi machine gun bunkers in Italy, despite losing an arm and being shot in the stomach. He was awarded the Medal of Honor. In Congress, he was one of vanishing breed — a moderate politician. He got along with everybody and never did a whiff of scandal come his way. At the time of his death, he was 88, he had served his state in Washington, D.C., for 53 years, and he was fourth in line of succession to the Presidency. This was a man whose life was dedicated to public service. It is said that his last words were, “Aloha.”