Occupy Something… (Besides this sense of higher moral ground).
Ever since the Occupy movement began and spread around the globe, I have been waiting. Sure, I knew that in the beginning there would be a great deal of both positive and negative coverage (well it did seem to take the mainstream media of the United States a long time to actually cover it, but eventually they did, and I will speak more about that later). Sure I knew that in the beginning the feeling of something exciting was happening would permeate many a person and drove them to do things that they may otherwise never have thought they would do. Sure I knew that in the beginning people would think that this time something really could be done, really could change and really could bring about a shift.
…. But that was in the beginning. What I was waiting for was the other shoe to drop. The other shoe called reality. For you see, while I am a firm believer in many of the ideals of the Occupy movement, what I think many of them (those on the front line.. and believe me, I have a great amount of appreciation for what all of them have and continue to do) fail to see (or don’t want to participate in) is … the system. And unfortunately those failures to understand that sometimes you have to “play the game”, is what could be the downfall of this movement and block it from ever reaching the heights and aspirations it could and wants for itself and the globe as a whole.
Occupy wants, well, many things, but above all there is a fundamental idea that there needs to be a better distribution of the wealth of the world, and a more accountable way for what they term the 99 percent to be part of the entire pie. What they fail to see is that by circumventing a lot of the things they don’t like… like certain types of organization, like sponsorship, like money, they are loosing a part of the movement that they will need to take it to the next step. I applaud the idea of not wanting to go down that path, of staying true to the ideals of the movement, but again, I have to say… it is time for a deep seeded reality check.
Occupy Wall Street… the idea… was floated by a magazine that I have read (sometimes with amusement, sometimes with opposition to the single-mindedness of some of the ideas within but always with a sense of understanding and being akin to the principles behind the magazine) for longer than probably some people (if any are) who are reading this have existed on this planet. Adbusters, the little Canadian wanna-be anti corporate magazine that could, was the spearhead of the idea.
So let’s look at this magazine for a moment. While the magazine generally does not have advertising in their pages, they do charge for the magazine. As a person whom lives on the other side of the globe from its place of its inception, I can attest to the fact that even this magazine is not immune to the inequality of how much is charged for it from country to country. I have purchased it in a few different countries, and I can say that to buy it on the magazine stands here… if you can find it… it is DOUBLE what it would be to buy it in Canada or the United States, and the price then fluctuates again depending if I buy it in another Asian country, in Europe, and so on. While this is not necessarily the actual fault of the magazine itself, they do understand that this does occur but they do want their magazine to reach the widest audience possible, (hence the reason they have an American Edition and so forth). My point being, is… they do CHARGE for the magazine, for they understand that in order for the message to be heard, they need structure, organization, a way to pay their employees, etc. In other words, while they do believe in a change to the capitalist system we have now and an end to the consumerist society we all live in, they do also participate in it (if only to get us to look at how we participate in it). They do understand that they cannot change the entire way our world has function in one magical swoop of their desire for it to be so. They have… in a sense, grown up. Become a middle aged entity (like myself), that desires change and desires more equality in many things… but also understands that the system itself (using it to ones own advantage) may be the best way to go about bringing that change they so desperately feel is needed. But they also know that it is not going to happen overnight.
Human beings will NEVER agree totally on all things, and, in my thoughts, I would never want them to. I enjoy the diversity of our thoughts, it is what drives me in many ways and keeps me reading, traveling, writing, thinking and the like. So while I too sometimes desire this change to come about in some magical fashion outside of the system we already have, the reality is, that is not going to happen unless the world de-evolves into anarchy. Now some may love the idea of this occurring, but again, let us clear our heads for a moment. Anarchy does not and will never work as a way of leading an existence in our world. Human beings need structure and in some ways need laws and direction in order to function to their fullest capacity. It is the system we have now, with all of its faults that has helped to bring about some of the greatest things of our evolution as a species, and it is this system that continues to do those things
Let’s leave this idea for a minute and look at the media coverage of the Occupy movement. In the beginning, especially in the United States, it seemed the coverage of the movement was … lacking. There could be many reasons for this occurring, but again, it seems to me one of the biggest reasons is that the structure of the news (how it is gathered, packaged, reported etc) has itself changed as well, and again, the Occupy movement needs to understand this. I mean really understand it. Not just fight against it. Play their game a bit, Understand that middle of the road Pat and Joe are more akin to listening to someone whom is not screaming demands all the time, face covered in a black mask and the like. (humans get very affronted when someone seems to just demand, demand, demand… even if their demands are warranted). News, like it or not has become a commidity, so, use it to change it. While the past decade has seen the deterioration of real talking into thirty second rants of exploitation and pandering and talking heads screaming about this and that, I don’t think this is the way to go. While it may seem to be the way at the end of the day, true level-headed, reality based intelligence (I really believe) wins out in the end, only if because at the end of the day, it is the level headed that have the patience to sit through all the emotion and the rants, to see through the thoughts of the heart vs. the mind and get to the real heart of the issues. That is what needs to be done with Occupy. It is a great idea for everyone to have a voice, but again, let’s speak to reality. Spending your whole time just listening to those voices and never really deciding on anything because your afraid that someone will not agree with what you are doing will result in… well… nothing. This is a place where Occupy (especially in the United States, the seeds of its existence) seems to really have dropped the ball. Other movements in that country (the so-called Tea Party comes to mind) have been much more successful because they have decided to play the game, to not just talk, and to understand that action … within the system… must occur in order to bring about the change they desire. They have come to see that they must work with different groups, not necessarily totally like them in their actions, but in the fundamental idea of what they desire, in line with each other. From what I see of what has occurred in the United States over the past few years, they have been very successful so far in forwarding many of the things they desire, even thought they too seem to hate the system as it is. They have been good at using it to their own advantage.
I know that many may see that as a total lack of principles to their own moral code, a type of pandering in its own right, but lets again look at the reality of our species. Many of the ways in which we function are riddled with paradoxes and catch 22’s. Change comes about (it seems to me) when one accepts these realities and uses them to ones understanding … and ultimately to their advantage.
Occupy seems to be at that point in its evolution the world was at after they were hooked on the drug Barack Obama sold to us all in his slogan “Change”. After the reality of the real world set in, and the drug did not produce all the “change” it promised (or perhaps many people just assumed it to promise), the disillusion became too much and people once again began to look for something else that could appease their desire for something different. They began to look for a new fix. They believed in something, and when what they believed in became diluted, the purity of the drug became less than the initial effect it gave them, they began to look elsewhere for something that was more pure to their own thinking… to get them high again.
That, my friends is never going to happen, unless we all choose to splinter and begin to live in our own little worlds. living only with those whom are like minded in all ways. Now that may be fun for awhile and it may be something that many think would be a great thing, but I do believe there would come a day when those whom thought that way would realize they were missing something. That spark, that difference, that diversity that makes us such a frustrating species in so many ways… but also one of total fascination, intrigue and desire.
So to Occupy I would say… the time has come to really take it to the next level. The protest, the sit-ins, the shut-downs (and so forth), they were just the beginning. Now it is time to really get organized, to really move into the next phase of change. Don’t be afraid of one whom may have money who desires to really be with you and to use that money to help you. Not everyone whom has money is hell-bent on keeping the system we have now. There are many out there that desire change, desire a different way of going about doing things in the world, but don’t feel the need to circumvent the system we have now to do it. Don’t ignore that group, embrace them, and understand they can be your allies, not someone else you need to change in thought. It might not be what one wants to hear, but there are certain ideas of inequality that are going to take… money… to make them right again. After all, again, I must state, we live in the reality of the world we have all created. We cannot wipe it clean and start a-new in one full swoop. The results would be catastrophically bad for us all. And so, understanding that money is needed, but that money CAN bring about change, if it is done in certain ways, needs to be embraced.
Sometimes the most like minded people are those whom you seem to think you have the least in common with. Sometimes understanding that desiring the same outcome or the same thing does not necessarily mean taking the same path to get to that place. But it takes more than just an understanding of this. It takes a willingness to work together… differences and all… to succeed in those goals. This is the place I see that Occupy needs to really concentrate on now. And I wish them all the best in that venture. It is the hardest thing for humans to do sometimes, but if the movement ever really wants to make a change, and not fade into the sunset, it is a place they will need to go, and if they do, they may be surprised the people (and entities) that will follow.
Realize, Resist, Revolt (Part Two):
In our society, a person’s worldview is increasingly based upon events that were not physically experienced but dictated to her or him by the various media. Though the media is an effective tool for communication, one must remember its actual purpose. Unlike in the past, when television news was never meant to be a for-profit arm of a network, with the condensing/taking over of resources by multinational companies, a television news program, like any other television program in this capitalist system, exists to make a profit. It makes this profit by selling advertising time and it sells advertising time by getting high ratings. It is not designed to simply tell you the news, but to tell you the news in a way that will keep you from changing the channel. The same applies to radio news programs, while newspapers are written to sell the newspaper itself. They are all designed to tell the news, but more importantly they are designed to tell the news in a manner that will generate a profit. To some this may seem like a minor distinction, but this difference determines which news stories are covered, the amount and visibility of coverage, and the manner in which they are editorialized. In today’s news sphere it also dictates if the news leans towards some side of the issue, or attempts to actually sway the viewer to one side or another. This was never the purpose of the news. News was meant to be reported… un-objectively, with no bias. That is no longer the case. In the news capitalist society, it is now a commodity to be bought and sold. The news, and the way it is now reported has fractured the very fabric of our cultures and has re-enforced and created more divides between us as people. We know where to go to see, hear and digest news that leans more towards our way of thinking and seeing the world. That is not news. That is pandering. News was never meant to pander, it was meant to inform… period.
A society that accepts this edited information as the whole and unbiased truth subscribes to a worldview based upon popular opinion rather than fact and subjects itself to the will of the information providers. Without objective sources of information our society cannot make informed decisions concerning world events, or homeland politics. Such a state puts us in grave danger in this time of international power struggles and global corporations.
(Your Truth) will set you free… part three:
We often blast the media, advertising and the like for the messages they give us. Buy this, eat that, wear this, have five of these….
But when it really comes down to it, whom is REALLY in control?
We don’t often sit with our children and talk to them about self-esteem. self image and self worth. There is nary a mention of such things in school. Many cultures don’t talk much about feelings, and indeed the ones that do say they are more “open” often still don’t really talk about the natural fear everyone has at fitting in or being thought of as different, or trying to understand what it is to be an individual, they just skim over it with thoughts like…”your young, it is natural, you will find a way”
Indeed, for many it seems that trying to figure out whom one is becomes a silent struggle of teen peer pressure, mid life crises, breakdowns, a self help industry and rivals only the weight control industry in size (connection?), and a general inability to open up with ones feelings. In short, we are a species that all have to deal with trying to figure out our individuality, but we are a species that rarely ever talks or acknowledges the fact it is a damn hard thing to do.
In enters the marketers. You see, marketers have study groups of their own. Sociologists, psychologists and the like that study the habits, patterns, whims and thoughts of different age groups, genders, cultural backgrounds. Their job is not to tell you to … be whom you are… their job is to help their company tell you what you need in order to be whom you are afraid NOT to be.
So until we all take back the power that WE already have, and the control of the self that is there inside, and needs to be taught to all our children, the images will not stop, the marketing will continue unabated and the struggle of us all to “be” something in our/someone else’s eyes will fill the cash coffers of those who never want us to ever say…
Rather than ripping news outlets for “slanting” the news—as Groseclose and the other bias-hunters do—I prefer to blame news consumers for journalism’s deficiencies: Readers and viewers aren’t as critical about their favorite news outlets as they should be, except to complain that the New York Times isn’t as liberal as it should be or that Fox has failed to terminate the career of Barney Frank. My cure for this kind of credulousness is simple: Have readers and viewers expand the range of news sources they consume, embracing the whole SQ spectrum from liberal to centrist to conservative to “off the wing.