I don’t usually talk politics here, but I’m pretty concerned about this whole “I am the 99%/Occupy Wall Street” movement. I wanted to share some thoughts about it…
First, I want to make it clear that I do believe Wall Street screwed up. Of course, they had plenty of help from Washington AND, quite frankly, from us. When the bubble was riding high, no one was asking questions. We should have. We needed to. The bankers and big corporate executives behaved unethically, yes, and there’s no excuse for it — but it’s not like we didn’t enable it.
Second, I am frustrated with the unwillingness of the protesters and their supporters to see that they are also contributors to the oppression and victimization of vulnerable populations. By virtue of the fact that we live in America, we are privileged — more privileged than the vast majority of people the world over. Are we giving our own excess to the poor? Have we downgraded our lifestyles, moved into smaller homes, cut back on restaurants, sold our cars and plasma TVs and Xboxes, in order to voluntarily redistribute the wealth and abundance that we have? Then who are we to demand that others do the same?
Third, I see a disturbing entitlement-driven, victim mentality underscoring the entire movement. While Wall Street execs did do wrong, and some of that was beyond our corporate control, much of it was well within our individual control. I am a “victim” of the recession: before the bubble burst, my husband and I bought a fourplex, only to see its value diminish almost immediately afterward. Looking back, we probably shouldn’t have qualified for the loan that our mortgage broker pitched us hard. We were fortunate enough to sell the fourplex this year and avoid foreclosure, but we sold it at a loss, and not before we were out about $20,000 on it. We don’t have $20,000. It was a huge financial hit.
And yet…I recognize that the signs were there. We could have, should have, seen that it wasn’t the time to buy real estate…that the loan was more expensive than we could legitimately afford…that we should have passed on the opportunity. But we were driven by greed and want. I am frustrated that we didn’t get better advice from our mortgage broker, sorry that the underwriters approved us when perhaps they shouldn’t have, but we take 100% of the responsibility for the mistake — because it was ultimately our mistake.
To the “99%”: I’m sorry that you’re working extra to make ends meet. Maybe it’s time to radically restructure your budget? I’m sorry you can’t find employment that fulfills you. Maybe it’s time to take a less agreeable job until something more suitable comes around? I’m sorry you have too much student loan debt. Maybe you should have worked full-time and gone to school part-time, instead of the other way around, to reduce your debt burden? I’m sorry your house was foreclosed on. Maybe you shouldn’t have bought something you couldn’t afford? I say this without malice because I have been impacted negatively in almost all of the areas I mention above — but I recognize that most of the harm would have been avoided if I hadn’t wanted what I wanted when I wanted it. It’s not “their” fault. It’s mine.
Finally, even if you are in a situation where you have truly been oppressed — where hardship has fallen as a direct result of the evil actions of others and through no fault of your own — Jesus has some hard but powerful things to say about what to do about it. If an oppressor asks you for your coat, give him your cloak also. If an oppressor asks you to walk a mile, walk with him two. If an oppressor smites you on the cheek, turn to him the other cheek also. This isn’t about taking it lying down; it’s about showing your oppressor your humanity and dignity. Right now, I see little dignity in this movement. Instead, I see anger, class warfare, envy, and pride. Sure, it’s a natural response to affliction, but I believe there is a better way.
I wonder if, at the center of a woman’s unhappiness, there isn’t an insatiable Want: to be accepted, to be known, to be loved.
In fairness, I don’t think this is exclusively a “woman” problem. I’m certain men experience similar longings. More likely, this is a human problem — perhaps among the most fundamental of our uniquely human urges. But I’ve never been a man, so I can only speak to my experience as a woman; and from what I’ve observed both in my own life and in my interaction with other women, it seems to be a core component of our collective discontent.
We seek to fill the Want in a variety of ways: relationships, hobbies, careers, motherhood, sex, power, chemicals, causes, shopping, interpersonal drama, food, entertainment.
Depending on the fill, it might work for a while — some more convincingly than others. The stomach-tingling excitement of new romance has filled me for weeks, even months. A good conversation for a day. A Jack-in-the-Box chocolate shake for a solid half-hour.
Eventually, though, the satiation fades and the Want returns — often much stronger than before.