For most of the duration of the various "Occupy" sites, I've had little in the way of sympathy for those caught up in the "movement." But then this morning, I got to thinking about my own situation, and how it ties into what the Occupiers are (ineffectively) attempting to say. My own current situation has more in common with what they're complaining about than I want to admit even to myself. Now don't get me wrong - this post is Not meant to whine, or to cast blame anywhere but upon my own shoulders for my own choices good, bad, and indifferent. It is, however, a statement of understanding where Some of the protesters are coming from.
Not all of the protestors. After all, every "protest" movement has it's share of those who are simply jumping on the ole bandwagon because it's the Popular thing to do, or because their friends consider it "cool" to do so. And this particular set of linked protests has more than it's fair share of such: 20 something hipsters who have no clue what it's like out in the real world, who've never had to pay their own bills without help from mommy and daddy, who happen to see this as the Cause of the Moment and therefore want to show how With It and Cool they are by joining in to say something they're utterly clueless about.
Then there are the ones this set of protests is Really about: middle aged, jobless, frequently homeless (because they're jobless and therefore got foreclosed on and simply can't afford to pay rent on another place) hungry (because they don't have a kitchen to do their own cooking, and can't afford to eat out - even at someplace cheap and greasy like McDonald's with a $1 menu.) They are the dispossessed, the desperate, and the destitute.
And there, but for the grace of good luck and planning on the part of my parents, go I. It's certainly not through any great good sense or ability of MINE that I'm not living on the street and dumpster diving for my meals. Hell, by rights I Should be having to do so, if we were going to go strictly by what *I have accomplished during the past 45 years. On examination, I've accomplished damned little over the past years. It's been due to my own choices - not anyone Else's. I chose to stay home with my children and raise them, rather than having a job outside the house and relying on daycare during infancy and after school programs during later childhood. I chose the priorities I had, which dictated my family came before my own continued higher education and finishing a college degree, or that immediate bills likes the utilities and decent clothes for my kids was more important than paying off delinquent student loans from when I was taking classes.
No doubt many - if not most - of those who are Destitute and Desperate are like myself. They made choices which, at the time, seemed the best way to prioritize their life, but which in the view of hindsight seem to have been mistakes. Mistakes which are now costing them their jobs, their homes, the fullness of bellies denied regular meals, decent clothes, transportation that isn't provided by their own feet.
So we made our choices. We prioritized our lives, and those priorities didn't place making the almighty dollar above the emotional or spiritual welfare of our families. So now we don't have careers that make 6 or 7 figures per year, we don't have half million dollar showcase homes, we don't drive BMWs and vacation every year in the Caribbean or Europe. What we do have are children who are well adjusted and disciplined, modest homes (where they haven't been foreclosed on by the bank) that would net under $100K if sold in the current housing market, jobs that we're lucky if they pay $50K a year with 2 people in the household working (and for many of us, under $25K a year - living so far below the poverty level of $23K a year Per Adult that we don't even show up on the statistics any longer!) either walking everywhere we go or driving cars that are 10+ years old because we simply can't afford to pay More Than A Year's Salary to buy a newer vehicle.
Now we have these Shitheads from the banks - and lawyer's offices, and government, and the CEOs of multi billion dollar corporations who are making the huge bucks - telling us that we're simply whining because life isn't fair?
Wait a minute.
Aren't you the same fucktards who's children are unsupervised by anyone but a paid nanny, and undisciplined except by a Judge when they go out and destroy something while drunk (only to get a slap on the wrist and 20 hours of community service - where MY children would get 15 days in jail and a fine that it would take them a year to pay off for the same offense!) Aren't you the same folks who seem to think that I should be Grateful to make a wage so far below the poverty level that I can never dig out of debt and the threat of having everything I "own" repossessed by You? Aren't you the same Asshats that are telling me "Sorry, but you make $10 a month to much Before Taxes to qualify for help putting food on your table - and we're not going to pay any attention to how much of your wage is going to pay us, or your various debts to our golfing buddies." Isn't this the same shitforbrains lawyer and judge who are telling me that if I don't pay off the bank the lawyer works for - out of a wage that won't even keep all my utilities turned on and still put food on my table - then they're going to collectively throw me in jail, so that I lose the very job they're demanding I be grateful to them for even though it's not enough to actually pay the bills?
How long has it been since they had to decide whether to leave the electric or gas turned on this month? Have they Ever had to decide whether they were going to eat this month, or get the 20 year old broken hot water heater replaced? How many times have They gone to work so sick they should probably have been in a hospital bed, simply because if they missed work that day their kids wouldn't be able to eat dinner but would instead have to rely on school breakfasts and lunchs not to go hungry? Have they bothered to step back and think about the fact that while they make $150 an hour - I have to work for a Week of 9 Hour Days to make that same $150 bucks - and then get part of it taken out of my paycheck before I ever see it, to cough up to the government for services they then tell me I don't qualify to get because I MAKE TOO MUCH MONEY!
Somehow I doubt they've considered that. Or that they would give a flying rat's ass if they Did stop and consider it. Or that they would do more than shrug their shoulders and take a swing at their golf ball if they realized the implications.