What do I have in common with a growing list of authors that include Salman Rushdie, Lemony Snicket, Gloria Steinem and Alice Walker? If you said we're regulars at Mario's deli, you'd be wrong. Except in my case, where you would have nailed it.
The correct answer is we are part of a rapidly growing list of writer types who are represented on occupywriters.com, a simple online petition that supports the Occupy Wall Street movement that's spreading around the world.
As social media, biased news stations and video games vaporize society's mindshare and intellect, I would like to think there are two groups of people, writers and readers, who must carry the torch of intelligent debate and keep it from twittering out altogether.
While I can't speak for the other writers, it is my hope that supporting the Occupy Movement will help advance much needed change. Without delving into specific agendas of either political party, I think we can all agree there is much to improve and we all need to work together to get something done.
Perhaps this is why there are people protesting on four continents, donations are starting to pour in and even the White House is publicly commenting.
Agree with us or not, a writer's job is to express ideas, thoughts and theories. But without readers, those insights are nothing more than ink on paper.
I have said this before and I will continue to maintain, as a general rule, those of you who pick up this paper or any other publication are more invested in critical thought than much of society. Whether you agree or oppose the Occupy Movement is not as important as taking part in the advancement of healthy debate.
To that end, I am most grateful to the readers who sent me passionate and thought-provoking letters in response to last week's litany of complaints I piled onto this growing political amoeba. I didn't agree with all of them, but I appreciate the effort it took to respond either way.
Longtime reader John Lajeuness took time to address my gripes about the state of our union by offering some financial tips that got him through tougher times. The Khassakhian brothers, Ardashes and Vazken, voiced their hopes for positive change and distributed the column to friends far beyond Glendale. And Robert Buniatyan sent me a passionate letter filled with facts to support his opinion about the Federal Reserve System and our free market society. Pro and con, I loved their abundance of passion and lack of arrogance.
There were a few exceptions, of course. There always are.
Some readers believe it is their unique duty to personally insult those of us with a differing opinion. While I don't get it, I understand that insults are part of life in the spotlight. Fortunately for me, junk mail filters exist, allowing me to enjoy the overwhelming majority of healthy discussion without being distracted by the knuckleheads more than once.
As far as living life in the public eye is concerned, Glendale lost a real champion in Larry Zarian. I was extremely saddened to hear of his passing, but ultimately so grateful to have gotten to know the man, if only for a brief moment. Larry interviewed me earlier this year on his TV show.
Aside from his contributions within City Hall, I will always be personally grateful to Larry for helping me connect with members of the Glendale Public Library during the taping of his show. As a result, I've been discussing with library staff the opportunity of taking part in a book signing at the library in the near future.
The possibility to promote my work in that forum inspired me to make major edits and publish a revision of my first novel. Doing that then led me directly to the book I am currently writing, about the causes and effects of a dysfunctional divorce.
Without it being his intention, Larry moved me to a more positive place in my work. I have no doubt the path he unknowingly helped put me on is going to move me to a better place in life.
I can only hope the opinions I and other writers express will in some small way help others to move —even if it is to become more informed about the polar opposite of what we believe. So keep thinking about the Occupy Movement. Figure out what you believe needs fixing.
Agree. Disagree. Don't sit there. Do something.
GARY HUERTA is a Glendale resident and author. He is currently working on his second novel and the second half of his life. Gary may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.