Why Occupy Wall Street When Your Life Is Not Yours Really?

About three years ago, when I was writing on Climate Change in THINK ABOUT IT platform run by European Journalism Center, I tried to address the waste problem of our consumer society by proposing ‘ want not, waste not’ . An interesting discourse followed, I could sense few skeptic grins and few eye-brows up in curves – but there were few who also saw my rationale. Sometimes you know the truth but you prefer not to confront it, because that’s not fashionable or politically correct. I love to be guileless.

This year in Project Reason (a discussion forum run by Sam and Annaka Harris) I started a thread by the title: ‘ ’ and things got serious. I shall spare you the details of challenges that followed, but one member went to the extent of accusing me of the false assumption that earth’s resources are finite.

I do not make many friends for my doubtful appreciations about the world’s largest profit machines AKA Multi National Corporations. In today’s world they yield so much power and influence that they can rig public policies of whole nations and defy Government control. I was certainly not being light when I dabbed Coca Cola as ‘ The Pirates of Ground Water *.’ My views are somewhat radical, but instead of logical engagement, I experience censor; the last of such being by TED – an idea (not?) worth spreading, because the so called non-profit has General Electric as their sponsor.

They say, population is the elephant in the room. But the room appears to have a floor of greed and a ceiling of corruption.

In India, there is a popular movement going on against corruption , where apolitical civil society representation is demanded for investigating corrupt politicians (even the Prime Minister) and executive power to send them to prison in case they are found guilty as charged. For a country like India, where corruption is the order of the day and a comparatively low index of literacy coupled with a typical sub-continental fatalism institutionalizes corruption, such public demand looks unusual. India aspires to change the ceiling.

In US, there is a popular civil society movement going on against greed , where peo ple are walking up to a park, gather peacefully and declare to occupy the Wall Street. They say that they are 99% of the Americans who are frustrated about the financial institutions and public services being hijacked by 1% of the wealthy Americans. They demand equality, opportunity and jobs. Mostly they denounce greed that fuels consumerist economy of world’s mightiest nation. Similarly for a country like America, where Capitalism is taken synonymously as freedom and liberty, this appears unusual. America aspires to change the floor.

Why such apparently unusual things are happening?

There are two principal reasons for Anna Hazare or OWS . First, today’s world is connected and citizen media has taken over the information market in an unprecedented way. You know what I am thinking half across the world at the touch of a button, there is peer to peer connection, exchange and consensus defying geo-political divide or how else American citizen movement could be inspired by Arab Spring ? This is a convergence of world citizenry unmediated by local politics or trends. Second, there is a growing consensus about the dysfunctional economic models of growth fuelled by an unregulated greed and corruption and common peoples’ voice is growing louder as they seek an alternative.

These are dots one needs to connect to see a larger picture emerging. What changes do these seemingly unusual yet happening realities usher? Popular movements may be directed at governance and financial institutions but they necessitate a paradigm change in common perceptions of life. How do you expect to eradicate corruption without first dealing with your own small greeds? How do you expect to fight greedy corporations stealing your aspirations, opportunities and jobs when you fall prey to buy absurdly impossible choice of goods? And even if you do, how do you dispel shocking images of hungry children with no hope, food, shelter, sanitation, water? In today’s world you know too much about the disparities – amongst the poorest, the richest and everyone in between – to live a merry-go-round of life. In more ways than one we have short changed the real meaning of our lives for a false and misdirected progress. Our lives are hardly ours – so if we need to want anything back, let that be our life and the small pleasures of leaving it harmoniously with our planet.

We need to slow down the consumer race. We are not islands anymore.

May be my little want-not-waste-not rant had a more profound truth than many cared to realize.

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* This is where I attempted to describe how Coca Cola is stealing ground water, a key resource, in arid Indian villages to make carbonated drinks, thanks to ineffectual laws and regulation of India. In order for you to make a connection let’s recall Barak Obama’s comment about not being able to prosecute greedy wall street executives : “One of the biggest problems about the collapse of Lehman’s and the subsequent financial crisis and the whole subprime lending fiasco is that a lot of that stuff wasn’t necessarily illegal; it was just immoral or inappropriate or reckless.”

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2 Comments

  • Bonjour, je suis d’accord avec toi sur les richesses naturels, elles ne sont pas éternels ni illimités.

    Cela dit, je pense que ce sont que pour les gens qui désirent faire davantage d’argent qui osent le prétendre et ça aux détriments des être humains et de la nature qui nous est si précieuses à la vie.

    La corruption, existe partout, pour te donner un exemple , ici même ou j’habite, au Québec. Un sujet chaud et très actuel. Nous venons de mettre à jour ce sujet qui était tenu sous silences depuis des années. Celle qui nous préoccupent particulièrement est celle de la construction.

    À ce sujet, je t’ajoute les dernières nouvelles de chez nous…

    -

    Merci pour ton excelent blog ! J’espère que tu as aimé ma pensée, mon opignon.

    Bonne soirée

    • Merci Ginette. J’ai une entière sympathie et de solidarité pour les personnes, les gens ordinaires comme vous et moi, qui protestent à New York. Cependant, dans cette affaire, je pense que toutes les choses de valeur orientée comme bon, mauvais, cupide, désintéressé, corrompus, etc honnêtes sont des attributs humains, ou bien pas de système (comme le capitalisme) ou d’une institution (comme Wall Street) peut être bonne ou mauvais. Ce que je voulais dire, c’est que nous devons travailler sur nous-mêmes.
      Merci pour le lien, je le vérifier.

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