Sunday, October 23, 2011

OCCUPY Wall Street & Everywhere Else

Being a supporter of anti-poverty initiatives, it is about time I said a few words about the OCCUPY movement which has been sweeping across North America.  OCCUPY Wall Street / Everywhere Else … is the gentler, younger cousin of economically sparked political protests which plagued Europe over the past year. The growing rift between rich and poor is not news, it has been going on for decades … but this isn’t the 1950s… communism was a monumental failure and we really have no interest in burning down parliament ala Guy Fox. We require 21st century solutions to 21st century problems. 
The OCCUPY movement is a touchstone for everything that is wrong with our society. There are more than a hundred ways in which western culture needs to change for the better; and all of them are represented at these protests. The reactions are as varied as the causes… but the overall criticism of OCCUPY is that it has no manifesto and no real leaders. I guess it is kind of like building a tent city under the tower of Babel, everyone seems to be talking a different language. I won’t be addressing individual issues in this blog, nor will I address the individual criticisms of the movement.
Today I want to talk about the core message of OCCUPY which to paraphrase the movie “Wall Street” is simply “Greed is NOT good”.  That statement applies to poor and rich alike….I’ve known both in my life and everyone is being squeezed by the greed of others (individuals, corporation or governments). Unlike love and other elements of the human spirit, which are infinite and self-perpetuating; the material world is limited. To change policy and practices we must change as individuals. We must change our personal priorities in the following ways:
          We must define ourselves by the good we do,

                                         not by the goods we own.
          We must choose enough over excess.
          We must value people over property.
          We must exercise compassion toward others,

                                        not control of others.
          We must above all “Do NO harm”.

The only real way to change our culture is by changing as individuals. Once we intrinsically value ourselves, we will only need things for their usefulness and only take what we will actually use from the material world. Abandoning excess is not communism; each person’s need will differ. My life of luxury would be a bare necessity to someone else. Some families’ need 2 even 3 cars, some need 150 square feet to live in, while another needs a five bedroom house. I am sad for people who define themselves (and others) by the label on their butt or the Lexis in their driveway… they have fallen for the great lie that money buys happiness. Money is a tool... nothing more. It is not the source of or an impediment to happiness, and GREED IS NOT GOOD. A few years ago I was having coffee with my friend Lonewolf, who champions against oppression, exploitation and all manner of atrocities committed by mankind. He said to me, “that greed is at the root of all of it”. So I asked the question… "would it not be better to fight GREED?” Aristotle told us that it is man’s nature to choose good over evil, (all things being equal)… if each of us aspires to be the best person we can be; then we will have good people making decisions and shaping policy.
So if we truly want to change our society (and I don’t care how rich a person is, we ALL want this over burdened system to change) first change yourself. Adopt the five principles listed above. then OCCUPY every corner of the world with the message that GREED IS NOT GOOD…. Excess and control (of others) should been seen for what it is, an over-compensation for self-loathing, insecurity and fear.
Love yourself …you deserve it.  Reach out to others with kindness and respect (if not love). Let’s consciously move society to reflect the very best of human nature. Have a joyous day my friends.   

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