Tuesday, November 22, 2011

An Observation (iii)

One thing that may be true is that I'm a bit motivated in this whole Occupy Me mission by fear. Like straight up, they're coming for me terror. I'm afraid that one day the disenfranchised are going to quit being so nice about how deeply they've been screwed and do what millions have done before them and start a fight.  And since they really, truly won't have anything to lose, they're going to fight like crazy to the death.  And my friends, I am not a fighter.

A nice blog with friendly reminders to try screwing other people over less seems like a bit of an innoculation against it all, but the longer things go on, the less effective an innoculation it seems likely to be.  If it comes to the worst, I don't think any of those people are going to stop their pillaging to google who was thinking about doing something about it all.

A friend is a pastor in the great state of Oregon.  She posted on facebook tonight that the family staying in her church waiting for shelter space is headed by a mother working full-time at Walmart.

In a recent conversation with really thoughtful, peace-loving, justice-seeking friends, I found myself explaining that Walmart isn't just a kind of neutral not-so-great entity - they're Big Terrible Bad Guys Doing Evil.  And people I really like don't know.  Or sometimes know but need a cheap toaster, you know?

Oh, I know.

I know because I bought the kids jackets at Old Navy last week.

That's why they'll be coming for me.

Because despite all the writing and thinking and cash paying, I am ultimately Unchanged-Enough and most certainly the world around me is Not Changed. People will remain concerned about their own profit over that of their neighbours forever probably. And by people, of course I mean me.

The last month has had it's successes - paying cash feels right and good; we ended up buying tires from a local independent dealer down the street; I asked a client to pursue becoming a Living Wage employer; I voted and even sought out candidates' opinions on Living Wage policies.  Friends have made adjustments in their own lands and have even sometimes told me about them.  Certainly I've had a lot of conversations about the world as it is and how it might be, conversations I would not have otherwise had to be sure.

And yet.

And yet, it becomes clearer and clearer that the changes we make will not change much as long as these changes are the changes of the affluent.  Because poor people can't afford to live this way - we barely can and we're the not-so-poor. And rich people won't, or mostly don't. Because then they would be less rich.

Oh hell. 

I bet the world changers weren't depressives.  Maybe there will be new life for this tomorrow.


  1. Ah the Living Wage. The stories I could tell but I live in fear and therefore cannot expose the injustices and attitudes right in front of me. Fear that I will lose my job that is below a living wage or offend the empoyer who believes he is doing me a favour by paying me as much as he does and therefore forfeit any hope of an increase.

  2. I like pie...
    I will pay for pie - when it is tasty.
    I will make pie when I feel crafty.
    I will eat pie when I am hungry.
    But I will not eat one pie over another because of price, where it came from or who made it. I eat pie because I want some pie.
    That is a free economy. I go to work, I save money, I spend money - on pie - because that is how an economy works. Some people can afford to buy the whole bakery, I cant, and others must eat day old pie because fresh is too expensive. That too is a free economy.
    I will agree that no one has the right to take all the pie and not share, and I also believe that no one has the right to stand and beg for pie because they feel like they are owed pie.
    I understand that it is not that clear cut, but the generalization works.
    So if you sit around and complain how I get pie and you dont...well (wait for it)...let them eat cake.
    For me...I like pie.

  3. i'm curious, anonymous: how would you define "free economy"? i ask because i want to learn and it seems to me that you are only speaking to the concept of supply and demand without taking into account all that might contribute to a broader definition. but perhaps you are speaking more to a political ideology of 'rights and privileges'?

  4. @Anonymous1: probably you can't do much in your own employment situation, but maybe just the braveness of asking the places you shop about their own wage policies will start a conversation in your neighbourhood that inspires some new thinking. And who knows - maybe you'll find a new employer!


    @lcr: I like you being here. Thank you.

  5. ACJ and co-horts: you are taking yourselves way too serious. I understand that inflection, winks and nods do not come across in the printed word --- BUT someone making a sweeping generalization about pie and the laws of supply and demand/free economy and then throwing in a French Revolution slogan is implied sarcasm through and through. Life is serious...I choose not to be. I guess my comments got you talking and that is a good thing, but the post was to remind you that you need to stop, breathe, chuckle and the absurdity of the situation, remember that we can pitch in, we can make tiny miniscule incremental changes, but will never fix the situation in a day. So dont beat yourself up that real change is slow, or even possible. Help where you can, choose one "pie" over another --- because you can --- and enjoy the life you have and not the one you think you should have. It is so easy to miss those blessed (and yes I used one of those weird churchy words there) moments because we are obsessed with how it might have been better.

    And if you dont know who posted the "pie" story then you are an idiot and truly dont know your friends. Take a breath, read it again, see the intended humour at your obsession.

    You know who I am.
    And its only Anonymous because I tried to post it and the sign up process annoyed me.

  6. I like wine. I drink wine when I'm thirsty. I drink wine when I'm stressed. I drink wine to celebrate. I drink wine to commiserate. But mostly I drink wine because I'm married to a pie eater.

  7. To Readers: Because I love Anonymous' wife, I have deleted the last comment but know the comment, while funny for those of us on the inside, was not in anyway germane to the larger conversation. Was it Anonymous? Silly rabbit.

    @Anonymous whom it turns out I do know and love: it is indeed true that I take myself too seriously, but lately I am consumed with wondering if I am not taking these questions seriously enough. And indeed while the smirkiness of your comments is appreciated (truly), in this forum they have to be taken seriously because of the kernel of truth in them that so many supporters of the present structures cling to to justify their way of living in this world at the expense of so many.

    I well know that Life has taught you lesson enough about living in the moment and I am struck by your line, "miss those blessed moments because we are obsessed with how it might have been better". I am trying to learn to live with one foot in How It Is and the other in How It Ought To Be. Perhaps not wise, but it's the best I've got.

    I like that you're reading my little Anonymous friend and like that you keep me honest. Maybe ease off the pie... for your wife's sake!