Human: of or belonging to the species homo sapiens.
Text: Some wonder what the purpose of “Occupy” this or that is. Where are the demands? Who are the leaders? Is there an established model? What’s the prospectus?
It begins to sound like “return on investment.” It begins to sound like a business proposition. And that’s what got us here in the first place. Commerce should never override human needs. Commerce decries all social contracts because they cut into profits, and profits are a strange, shifting thing, rarely tamed and always in danger of snapping free in a messy frenzy of excess. Everyone knows the name of the beast: Greed. More pervasive and addictive than any drug. Greed will watch a million people starve and justify inaction by proclaiming, “There was no profit for me.” Greed will create complex systems those with more immediate concerns have little time to decode. Those with immediate concerns and uncommon decency are busy helping those who need help.
Greed impedes. Greed lies, greed cheats, greed steals. Greed says today I made 4 billion dollars and that is not enough. Tomorrow I need 6 billion. Not to distribute to employees or communities, but to feed...greed.
More than anything greed has shaped the world of every single person reading these words. Greed says kill personal achievement unless achievement is directed toward the corporate good. Greed is a cabal. Greed poisons fields then demands you eat its crops. Greed feels entitled to more and more because it has more than you. You were not born into wealth. You did not cheat your way into wealth, did not sacrifice relationships good or bad, or persevere or study enough or scheme enough or seize enough power or be lucky enough to win and win. You have not made yourself a necessary commodity. If one percent of the world’s population controls ninety-nine percent of the wealth—and perhaps my figures are wrong, but I don’t care because I know the margin of difference is slight—if one percent can retreat to an island while the rest must live in the swamps, then that one percent must surely shoulder a heavy burden, if burden be the right word. They are duty-bound as humans to ensure that those without food eat; those without homes find true homes; those who are sick are cared for; those hungry for knowledge are taught; those who have lost their way be guided by the light of lanterns held high. Pity those with more than they need; they are surely beset by indecision. Whom to help? How to help? When to help? Except they are not. Many do not help unless in doing so they help themselves.
Question: How can those who have so much content themselves to do little or nothing, when I have seen those with little to nothing somehow manage to find something to help others in need? Does responsibility occupy so little a space in their hearts?
What it means to occupy Wall Street is this: we are real. No political agenda necessary beyond a humanist reality. No demagoguery needed. No deception. No falsehood. My own small tale? I requested Bank of America decrease my interest rate perhaps a point or so on a home of which I’ve already paid out three times the initial buying price, and which is worth perhaps half the borrowed mortgage. They said no. Citibank: after being laid off I asked how I might take advantage of any hardship program they offered; I wanted to continue making payments on my credit account, just not as much or perhaps not as often. I was told that because I wasn’t working I didn’t qualify for the hardship program.
I now bank with a credit union and am working to pay off my credit cards so I can cut them up and forget the entire backhanded scheme of credit cards exists. My next step will be why bank at all.
To Occupy Wall Street is to make real the inequities. To Occupy Detroit is to make real the inequities. To Occupy Edmonton, Denver, Washington, the world—to Occupy is to take up physical, dimensional space; to be real, not idea, not absence of void but the presence of dignity. The presence of truth. There is no good reason any man, woman or child should be without a home but we see the homeless everyday. There is no good reason anyone on this planet should wonder if today is a day they will get to eat or have water to drink, but there are millions upon millions who do. There is no good reason more children are familiar with sex and guns and prisons as part of everyday life than they are with laughter, and no good reason that, as winter approaches, we are guaranteed a news report of an elderly person freezing to death because a utility company turned his or her heat off.
There is only greed. For all its size, teeth, mass and hunger greed is actually a timid, fearful thing. “If I don’t turn the power off on an old man,” it will say, “then two or three will come up, and then more, and what of me then?” Greed knows one true fact of its existence and howls against it with every resource at its disposal. And that fact is this:
Greed is its own downfall. Wealth for wealth’s sake is a fallacy of logic. Money is an illusion, and you cannot hold onto something that does not exist.
We exist. You exist with us. You are us. An island surrounded by a swamp is an island surrounded by a swamp, regardless of its cost or the excess of its amenities. The movement will grow and grow until the ninety-nine embrace the weary one. We will occupy New York. Boston. Madrid. Geneva. Berlin. Iraq. Jerusalem. Kyoto. Melbourne. Peking. Burkina Faso. Bangalore. Toronto.
We will be made real until the world itself is made real.
Occupy this one truth: everything we do as human beings should not be for money, and when it is for money it should not be to excess.
Occupy a soul and join your world.