Posts Tagged ‘Occupy Movement’

A Root Cause of Discontent

October 16, 2014

Being a child of the 1950s and a product of our public school system, I grew up with a particular cultural mindset and acceptance of democratic ideals. I didn’t realize how much these were ideals and not realities until September 2011 when the Occupy Movement was born. I suppose that because I did come of age at the tail end of the 1960s and the Vietnam War it was easy for me to embrace an activist point of view. Because the Occupy Movement had my personal attention, I gave contemplation to the points of fact that they were informing anyone who would listen about. I came to realize that I have been asleep at the wheel and putting my faith and trust in a democratically elected government to represent my well-being. How naive I was !!

Occupy-photo-we-fell-asleep

The topic for Blog Action Day this year is Inequality. One of the harsh realities I was forced to recognize was how little equality exists even in the United States of America which I still do believe is a fortunate country to be born into but I am not often proud of all this country stands for or does out in the world as a whole.

All 535 members of Congress have a median estimated net worth of about $966,000 according to data analyzed by the Center for Responsive Politics. The most recent numbers available from the U.S. Census show that the median net worth of the typical American household is $66,740. One cannot help but question whether our legislators can actually understand the financial pain most of the people in the United States (and in truth everywhere on this planet) face and a question of whether the affluent can effectively represent the common citizen despite the fact that they themselves are so very well off should be asked of one’s self before they enter the voting booth to make a choice. If our legislators do not actually represent the interests of the common citizen, who do they actually represent ? If one is able to recognize the inequalities existing in our system of government honestly then the likely answer to that question is not hard to realize. Our legislators understand best and relate the best to those who are most like them and not surprisingly those interest groups that fund their re-election campaigns.

Rich taking from Poor

Rich taking from Poor

For almost a decade now I have been studying the very ancient wisdom of the Tao Te Ching along with Science of Mind and other spiritualized perspectives. Just yesterday, I was contemplating Verse 53 as expressed by Stephen Mitchell in his book “tao te ching – A New English Version” –

The great Way is easy,
yet people prefer the side paths.
Be aware when things are out of balance.
Stay centered within the Tao.

When rich speculators prosper
while farmers lose their land;
when government officials spend money
on weapons instead of cures;
when the upper class is extravagant and irresponsible
while the poor have nowhere to turn –
all this is robbery and chaos.
It is not in keeping with the Tao.

The problem for me is that it becomes very hard to simply accept the continuous decline in my family’s standard of living under the vise of the enduring economic contractions and hardships when I know that there is a rather large contingent of wealthy persons making out like bandits and with way more financial resources than they can personally utilize or even effectively give for the well-being of all people. They may certainly give some but I would suspect it is but a tiny percentage of all they hold. How many cars, houses, even shoes and designer clothes, does one person or one family actually need ? Not that I begrudge any person for receiving a fair compensation in return for their efforts to share their gifts in life. And I certainly appreciate how it feels not to have to worry about how much money one has in the bank when some need requires spending it. I’ve been there and it is a good place to be. I would be happy to feel such ease and lack of concern again. I wonder if it is simply one of those “good ole days” memories never to be again . . .

Howard Beale in Network

Howard Beale in Network

So, it is safe to assume and I will confirm here in this blog that I am NOT content. And it is the insult and the wrongness of this huge and growing inequality along with the collapse of the middle class that we have personally experienced that troubles me into a discontent. Even that old American Dream that if one works hard and plays by the rules they will prosper seems lost in the current economic environment. To be entirely honest I could quite easily say what Howard Beale said in the 1976 movie “Network” – “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore !” Yet it remains to be seen if there truly is anything that I can personally do about the realities that currently are the state of existence for the majority of any countries citizens. What I do know is that having woken up to the reality, it isn’t possible to forget the truth and that sad realization in me, that I do not live in the country that I grew up believing that I lived within. This sadness and a sense of despair may never leave me. Yet I do hope that somehow our society could become more equally democratic again. Simply having the right to vote, which I do honor and exercise nevertheless, doesn’t cut it.

I am NOT content and the root cause of my discontent is this truth of EXTREME financial Inequality.