Over a year ago, the battlefield was well defined and partitioned into Good vs Evil, the 99% vs the 1%. This was and still is the view of the Occupy Movement, a movement I belong to. Though such a picture helped define the problem, it was also both inconsistent and self-sabotaging. It was inconsistent in that those of us in the Occupy Movement wanted a full democracy that represented the 99%. It was self-sabotaging in that individuals from the 1% who might have been inclined to listen and at least partially join us were hardened by our vilification of them. It is as if we asked them to cross a river while we burnt all of the bridges and constructed extra obstacles. This was a tactical error on our (the Occupy Movement) part. If we had followed Martin Luther King's approach to winning over enemies, we would be more consistent and might have even made more headway.
What should we do with the 1%? Let's first define their problem. Currently, they are, to put it mildly, acting like sociopaths. That is, they are doing whatever they want without even a twinge of conscience when they cause others to suffer. It's not that all of them are sociopaths, but most of them are acting that way. The opportunity to maximize profits, which makes self-interest the only interest, liberates those enslaved to wealth and status. Much of society regards them as heroes because of their worldly success. The fact that many are sorely wanting in compassion is of no significance.
Why do many from the 1% not care about the suffering of others? There isn't a single answer. Some might not care at all about people while others are unable see the connection between their actions and the price others must pay. But there is another reason that might not have been considered and it is a reason that might be share by some in the military. Because of their self-imposed social and economic apartheid, they might not be able to see the damage they inflict on others. It might be like Howard Zinn when he flew on bombing missions some 30,000 feet above the targets. He could see the bombs explode but could not see the lives taken or the people who were maimed. All he could see is whether the bombs of his plane hit their target. Similarly, those who control drones and kill by remote control cannot be up close and personal to the collateral damage their skill and following orders has wrought.
Because the 1% are insulated from financial shrapnel that is tearing apart the rest of the world, it could be that some of the 1% are not sociopaths at all, they are just ignorant. And if that is the case, then part of undoing the status quo must include educating those from the 1% who are not just willing to see the connection between their financial success and the suffering of others, they are willing to do something about it.
What is it that we want them to do, after all, there are philanthropists amongst the 1%. Some from the 1% are sharing a significant amount to help those in need. And though this is good and should be warmly celebrated, it is incomplete. For just as the financial decisions of individuals from the 1% is like the dropping of individual bombs on civilians, the system by which the 1% benefits provides the carpet bombing of the cities where we live. What we need from the 1% is not just individuals who will graciously give charity, we need a movement amongst the 1% which will work to change the system so that more and more people have the chance to work their ways out of needing charity. We should also note that it was Martin Luther King who said that individual charity is not enough, we also need to examine the system that puts so many people in need.
How do we move those in the 1% to work for a change in the system? Again, there is no silver bullet here, but part of the answer is finding ways to eliminate the distance between those flying the bombers and the civilians below. We must find ways to put those in the 1% as boots on the ground so they can see the carnage their success causes. We must discover ways involve the 1% with helping others to the extent that they too start cursing the system that has blessed them so richly. To do this, we need to bring the suffering of the many to the doors of the 1%. We have to learn how to hang out where the 1% hangs out so we can start the necessary conversations that will help the 1% see the truth regardless of whether they can handle it.
Not all from the 1% can be converted but nobody knows how many can. And for those who don't convert, by trying to educate them regarding how their riches means poverty for others, they will show that they are the real antagonists who are attempting to steal from others rather than the have nots who want what is necessary to live in dignity.
This different approach is a necessary change for the Occupy Movement if we are to continue to build a better world. We should note how many crimes the U.S. government has committed because they have employed bipolar thinking when confronting Communism. We too could fall prey to similar faults if we embrace the horribly flawed black-white thinking from the past. Separating today's people into the 99% and the 1% conducts such an embrace. In addition, because some of the natural results of such thinking include externalizing evil, we can easily deny our own faults that are so visible to others.
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