Business Casual: Too Much Time For The Haters

Back in the day, Atlanta coined an upbeat slogan, proudly calling itself “The City Too Busy To Hate.”

Of course there were detractors and cynics, but I always loved the particularly Atlanta-like blend of optimism, pragmatism and resolve. And I especially valued the implicit conviction that the city would live up to its slogan – which, in many ways, it has.

These days, I find myself wishing that slogan might be adapted and adopted for the entire state of Georgia and, in fact, the country. There’s too much hating, and apparently too much time for haters to indulge themselves.

And, Lord, I’m tired of the haters: the birthers, the gay-bashers, the Quran-burners, the Westboro Baptist Church congregants who disrupt soldiers’ funerals, the bullies, the racists and the xenophobes.

In addition to those outright haters, I’ve pretty much run out of patience with their first-cousins – the mean-spirited, the thoughtless, the exploiters, the information-twisters and the hypocrites. And I’m really exasperated by supposedly smart people who do dumb, hurtful things, especially people in a position to do some good who persist in doing the opposite.

What in the world is wrong with the Michigan legislator who introduced a measure that would require foster children in his state to wear only clothing purchased from second-hand stores? State Sen. Bruce Casswell sponsored such a bill, allegedly to save the state money. He said he had worn secondhand clothes as a child and seemed to think he had turned out just fine. I beg to differ.

Why is it that some individuals become so fixated on an idea that it clouds their thinking and closes their minds?

Case in point, people concerned about illegal immigration – OK, understandable. But not understandable to me are those so convinced that immigrant workers are the reason for everything that is wrong with their lives that they would deny basic medical care to people who may be here illegally. Even if your humanitarian instincts are so dulled that you find this acceptable, isn’t there a potential public health problem lurking there?

The morning after the General Assembly adjourned in April, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution carried two stories that caught my eye because they seem to represent the best and the worst of Georgia.

The worst was a story of the last-minute passage of the Arizona-style HB 57, which is not only anti-immigrant, but anti-business, requiring employers to check the immigration status of all employees via the E-Verify program. The bill penalizes many of the job creators that our lawmakers profess to revere. The governor signed the bill into law, even though it will almost certainly face a costly court challenge and has already inspired a boycott of Georgia and Georgia products.

The best of Georgia was represented in another story of a group of citizens, more than 1,000 strong, who responded spontaneously to a threatened protest from the Westboro Baptist Church. The Georgians gathered in Alpharetta at a funeral for a man who died serving his country and formed a human shield to honor the soldier and protect his family. As it turned out, the so-called “church people” did not show. But the soldier’s supporters, a diverse group including veterans and ordinary citizens, honored the young man’s memory.

So here’s what I’d suggest for the haters and the almost-haters who have too much time on their hands: community service, volunteerism and self-education.

Let the clothes-conscious senator in Michigan spend time with some foster children and actually see what their lives are like. Are they all wearing designer jeans and $200 shoes? My guess is no, but I think it would be a worthwhile investigation for him.

Let legislators who are so concerned about “wasting” money on undocumented immigrants’ healthcare volunteer at a clinic or emergency room and see if they are willing to pass judgment on who’s worthy of help and who isn’t.

Military funeral-disrupters could simply be put to work emptying bedpans at the veterans hospital.

It would be nice to think such service might fill some of the time available for hating – and maybe even open a mind or a heart.

Categories: Business Casual, Business Industry, Features