1 – I have been thinking that the Occupy (name here) movement is futile in at least one sense: a whole lot of people are asking the very people who have taken all the money to give some of it back. Why would they do that? The 1% have spent a lot of energy setting up a system that make them and only them filthy rich. Take Egypt, a military commander (the top guy in the 1%) acted as dictator for decades. The Arab spring seemed to throw the dictator over at the demand of the people in the streets. But now a faceless military is dictating things. What changed?
2 – The banks, big biz, and the government, or at least the right wing parts of them, have yelled up and down that government should be run like businesses: lean and mean. They are right in a way. Government could be run like a business. But not the kind usually meant by the right wing. Let me explain: have you ever wondered why the biz/bank class want to limit the size of government? It’s because government can provide services at a very competitive rate. Governments compete with businesses. Like SAM of walmart fame is supposed to have said, destroy the competition.
Government is ideally a co-operative where the members (the citizens) pay a fee (based on a sliding schedule – taxes) and receive services in return. Because the co-op has so many members (the total population), economies of scale should make the government supply services better and cheaper than any smaller business – excepting of course that there is a lot of corruption in government, and except for the fact that we keep voting in people who would rather the co-operative business of government fails.
3 – Another thing. Why does it always take so long for rotten things to change? It’s because things work for lots of people and they don’t want to give up the things that work for them, even if they can see that it is not working for the majority. I suspect that even when the system is not working for one, many think that if they only do this or that they can be filthy rich too. And then when things also get really bad for them (or you, or me) we finally protest. But are we protesting so we can get on the gravy train, or so that everyone gets an equal share? Regardless, at some point the power structure hires lots of people who like playing with guns, and they tend to use these types as a military buffer between themselves and the people. We hope that guns in the streets of America will not happen.
4 – But why all this on a Zen blog? Think of the world as one big sanga, one big place where everyone helped everyone who was suffering, where compassion for others was the norm, where anyone who is suffering was listened to, when anyone who was in pain or ill or hungry had their pain assuaged. Can a Government be a sanga? Only if the people who were elected were well-trained in compassion and practised it on an everyday basis. Government based on the four noble truths and the eightfold path? Or, embody the love of Christianity (while forgetting all that mean-spirited hateful advice from Leviticus).
5 – Which brings me to my last point. I feel very positive about all the liberation movements that are happening now around the world – for one very good reason. People in the Occupied encampments are spontaneously setting up self-help resources, and resources to help others. People are being compassionate. And if they, and we, can keep it up, then there is no reason to think that compassion as the basis for government will fail.
Conclusion – There is only one problem. The government/ banks are not going to set up a compassionate government. They are trying to perpetrate the same system that made them filthy rich and bankrupted everyone else. But why play their game? Step aside. Ignore them. Take your money out of the too big to fail banks and put it into people oriented credit unions and other small local financial institutions. Or make up a completely new system and work it.
Oh yes. I asked what has changed? People are starting to realize that they can make things work for them. That they are not powerless.
I’ve been getting a few comments questioning me about suffering and pain, and so that is what my next post will be about.