Occupy Your Life

“Oh, the bright young things, we never sleep. We just lie down while we dream. Someone do something.”

I am not as “up” on the world news as I was in college. I hate that. It’s a product of my environment. I am surrounded by people who either don’t want to hear it, don’t understand what they do hear, or are completely in the dark because what they “understand” has been spoonfed to them by one of the politically bias American media sources. In college, the rule of thumb was you go to British outlets for American news and American outlets for British news. But that wasn’t enough. You also had to banter the news with your peers, from either side of the coin. Peers who agreed with you and peers who disagreed. That was where I got a lot of my political education.

Now, I have Facebook. And so much of what I get from my friends there is fractured; I don’t have a clear view of who is Liberal, who is Conservative, who believes this, who doesn’t believe that, making it difficult to banter the news with them.

#Occupy, for example. People I thought would be supportive of the movement, are not and people I thought would be on the side calling the protesters those “damned dirty hippies” are actually taking time out of their lives to go to the rallies. I don’t know where anyone stands anymore.

But I have taken a detour around why I really started typing here. It took me a few days to really figure out what was going on but again, I blame my surroundings. No one I spend my time with is listening to it, reading about it, caring about it at all, really. So I had to go back to my college days and dig. Find out what was going on because there is no concrete “this is why we’re here” statement. The Occupy movement means a lot of different things to a lot of different people but if you have seen the photos there is no denying it means something to a LOT of different people.

I was talking about it with my Sister the other day. Not Occupy, specifically but how, for such a young country (235 years old) we are an extremely backward and feudalistic society. Some “activists” (for lack of a better word) in my city held a funeral yesterday for the middle class and the American Dream. It is so hard to grasp that in a “free” country, where children are told they can be anything they want to be by people who either truly believe it or want to truly believe it, that there is such a stark contrast between the haves and the have-nots. In terms of financial stability, there is very little grey area (or whatever you get when you mix black and red… since those are the colors used to describe financial stability) in our free to be whatever I want to be country.

And if you happen to drag yourself into that grey area, it is so easy to slip back out again. Much easier than it was to get into it. But those on the other side, on the top side of the grey area, the 1%, they just keep pulling farther and farther ahead. The truth is, if you are born in the projects, you are going to have to work 1000% harder to get yourself anywhere farther than the suburbs, managing the Gap. Projects to Wall Street, Madison Ave, forget it. 1 in a billion shot.

I’ve seen messages from people disavowing the Occupy movement, the 99%, saying that they don’t rely on anyone for anything, they’ve worked for everything they have and don’t blame the government for anything, they live within their means, don’t eat out, don’t have credit cards or student loans, and therefore this doesn’t apply to them. This makes me so angry. Because that’s not what this is about. At all. This is about corporate lobbyists buying votes. This is about the loopholes the wealthy have to shirk their accountability. And if you’re definition of “living within your means” includes not going out to dinner, ever, or not buying things you don’t “need”, then you ARE part of the 99% but you are the part of the 99% who allow that to be the definition of responsible.

But here’s the thing. Eating out, stimulates the economy. You pay sales tax on the meal, you tip your server…maybe. Maybe that’s not “within your means”. At any rate, you allow your server to keep his job for another day. Buying things you don’t “need”, stimulates the economy. No one needs a 72″ television, but you buy one and you pay sales tax on it, where does that sales tax go? The salesperson makes a commission off of that television, goes out to dinner to celebrate, pays sales tax on his dinner, tips his server…Right, shut up.

Sorry, that got a little soapboxy. The point is, there is a lot about our government that needs to be changed. For me, Occupy is about the job applications I’ve been filling out weekly since February with no prospects because there are more of me than there are openings (pretty scary when one local job board has 900 listings). For me, it is about public schools cutting teachers’ jobs or cutting bus routes and the USPS closing small town post offices when the Speaker of the House of Representatives earns a salary comparable to that of a professional athlete (who also makes entirely too much money but teachers don’t have to lose their jobs so he can get his check). For me, it is about this American Dream where little kids are told they can be anything they want to be, anything AT ALL, and they believe it and they work hard and they go through the steps required to be what they want to be and they end up slinging french fries working for someone else’s American Dream come true, from a time when they actually sometimes did. Or worse, carrying their Master’s certificate around in their shopping cart because it still means something to them. For me, it’s about the Master’s and even Doctorate certificate holders, high level college graduates, spending their nights in the homeless shelters. That’s not what we were told when we were young and willing to believe anything was possible.

Occupy your city…or don’t… but at least understand that it is your responsibility to occupy your life and live it the way you want and make of it what you want. I’m trying to do that, trying harder than ever.

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