Occupy Wall Street: who’s really got us by the neck?

 

I was at a local demo yesterday. I would be the first to see those financial squanderers and speculators who impact the lives of so many, replaced with a much more humanistic bunch. I would love to see a heavy taxation of all those destructive practices, so as to free up resources for truly worthy things like quality education designed to build character instead of puppets for the economy. I am encouraged that so many are starting to get together to approach the problem. Demonstrations can be a good first step but must be built on by finding lasting, fundamental solutions.

 

When people feel increasingly that their own personal freedom is being downgraded, they may eventually hit the streets and start shouting about it. More rarely, they will do it in support of their fellow humans, when they themselves have "nothing immediately to gain from it". If the latter case described the majority of the population, we probably wouldn't be in the mess we are today.

 

Our system is unjust. It is based upon greed, separatism, competition, dominance and fear. But these values pervade all levels of society, not just big business, banks and politics. Their weaknesses may be far more publicly visible but that is only a symptom of all that has gone wrong with the Western notion of “progress". A lot of people would love to be in the shoes of a fat cat bank- or corporation executive; it's just that some individuals are better at getting there than others. When they empty their excrement on us, it's easy to forget our own greed.

 

If we were to ask the displaced farmers in Brazil, various indigenous populations in many parts of the world or Iraqi children suffering from cancer due to depleted uranium poisoning, “Who do you think has got you by the balls?", They might well point the finger at us, i.e. anyone who lives in one of the enormously privileged, rich, industrialised nations which exercise their military might and economic stranglehold of poor nations whenever it suits, to keep the consumer society up and running. That's us: consumers. Every day we make choices that have an impact on others, very often unconsciously. Relatively and generally speaking, we are the “still haves" whilst they are very much the “have nots". For them it is a daily fight for survival because evermore of their land is stolen or rights abused in order to provide us with luxuries for consumer satisfaction: iPhones, cheap petrol, cheap meat, cheap holidays abroad etc etc.

 

These casualties of consumerism have been around for decades now but few have got onto the streets to support them!

 

It still amazes me when I go to our local organic shop in Munich, that I am amongst a tiny minority of people who take their own reused bags – and in some cases – plastic containers to be filled up again. You would think that would be the majority of cases within circles of people gone “organic". Aren't the alarm bells ringing loudly enough? Cause and effect? Rising oil prices, waste, critical situation?

 

This is one of the many scenarios that show how our apathy has got us in a vice. At the same time it demonstrates the capacity that we do have to change things. If we are paralysed by bad habits ourselves, how can we point fingers at the banks and politicians? The answer to my question is that our own blindness has got us by the balls, but only if we let it. Who really wants war, to have to do a meaningless job, increasing toxification of the environment, an ever widening gap between rich and poor? Deep down, nobody, but we have some fundamental adjustments to do in our belief system. We need to develop a compassionate, peaceful, fighting spirit, and act with resolve. Yes, let's boot out the black sheep in power, but more importantly – let's transform the philosophy of greed that allowed such insanity to take hold in the first place!

 

Every single tiny action counts these days – if all the people who waited for others to change committed even a small deed one day to prove to themselves that they might not actually be victims – that would make a fundamental difference. We can inspire one another with our actions. It might not visibly change the world overnight but the world will have changed nonetheless: we will have taken a step to nourish all that there is that can ultimately save us: the awareness of our own humanity.

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3 thoughts on “Occupy Wall Street: who’s really got us by the neck?

  1. That is so true. Well done, well said! 
    I think also there´s a link between the lives we (in first-world countries) live and the amount of resources the earth (as a hunk of rock with finite capactities).
    I'll quote that US statistic you all know, about levels of reported happiness that correlated almost 1 for 1 with material wealth until the 1950s, after which it plateaued, and quickly plummeted, until we find ourselves as we are now: rich and miserable.
    Its time for all of us to realise that perhaps material wealth (over the level of basic needs) will not fill our lives with happiness. I would encourage everyone to practice the resource conservatism that the above article discusses and that the earth needs to be more sustainable beyond the next 50 years. Doing so will not affect your happiness or sense of self or identity. Doing so might even set you onto those things in life that WILL provide happiness (INNER resources).
    This is not a call to go back to the Stone Age or even to the 1950s: It is about realising we can do better than own nice clothes and expensive apartments and fission nuclear energy. As suggested in the article above, charity and compassion are inner resources which give to the giver as well as the receiver. I am suggesting that the burgeoning resource crises and global inequality can be seen not just as crises, but as opportunities to downsize, rekindle what is important to us, sacrifice what is not, and give to others (and not just humans – upon how many species do we depend for our own survival?). 
    For example, I have recently given up exorbitant rent prices here in Melbourne (Australia) and moved into a small van with a bed and a gas stove in it. It has all I need for a healthy and happy existence, and all my monthly rent money goes to people who need it more (Oxfam, Medicins Sans Frontieres, The Wilderness Society, etc). I am happier living near nature reserves and parks than in the suburbs with clearly demarkated property boundaries. This is an example of one small lifestyle change which makes me feel less guilty about our govt's rudiculously selfish policies and resource grabbing and market-driven consumerist propaganda which leads to so much destruction and waste.
    I only hope these words can inspire you to do something similar…. :)
     

  2. Sorry, second sentence should read:
    "I think also there´s a link between the lives we (in first-world countries) live and the amount of resources the earth (as a hunk of rock with finite capactities) has. There are many statistics about how many resources we in affluent countries use compared to our poorer counterparts in other countries such as India."

  3. Thanks Yeshe for your comment and commitment! This is a valuable personal experience. If you have a second to spare, please copy it into the forum – anyways – looking forward to hearing more! cheers Matt

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