Saturday, March 31, 2012

Profit and Loss, a Human Perspective

We have all, in more or less words, heard the expression “It's just business.” Usually, when we here it there is negative karma associated with it. However, if we consider it from a global perspective, it represents something all-together more dreadful. It reflects opportunities lost, and opportunities are what make life worth living.

I am just one person, but my experiences are not altogether different from other people's experiences. For example, something recently happened to me in the context of “It's just business.” I started work on a farm in California, 1500 miles away from my friends and family. The terms of work were that I would work about 45 hours a week for room (a small travel trailer), partial board (vegetables from a farmer's market), and 500 dollars a month. While not the best deal in the world, I took it because it would place me in a position for greater opportunities, namely starting to market my laundry soap and line of teas at above-mentioned farmer's market. However, in the first week I got moderately injured and sick, something not all-to-uncommon doing hard manual labor in animal husbandry. I was willing to persevere, however the farmer was in need of something more. He let me go, as he is in dire financial straits, and could not afford to wait for me to get better.

In the end, both of us lost out. He did not get the farm hand he needed to be a financial success, to take care of his family, and to have the life he works tirelessly to build. I lost out on an opportunity to do the above-mentioned things, lost respect from peers, life needlessly turned upside-down, and was left penniless, and why? Because of the insidious nature of money. It does not just affect the microcosm, the farmer and I, but those who's lives touch ours! Promising friendships put under undue and untimely strain, small children who want to have time to spend with their dad, and the quality time spend on things that matter, not where next months mortgage payment is coming from! This is why we need post-scarcity! Not Socialism, because it does not nurture innovation, not free market capitalism and its endless pursuit of profit to the degradation of all else, but radical abundance, so that everyone has the tools they need to climb the ladder of human achievement!

My story is not unique. If anything, it is far less disastrous than some, where people actually lose their life due to not having what they need. I am fortunate, I had another opportunity available to me, and my wounds will heal. It is not microcosmic, it is macroscopic and systemic. Let's do better! Let's build a future where stories like this are not common, where “It's just business!” is a phrase of a by-gone era. We have the tools we need, let's use them intelligently, so that humanity does not have to endure another generation of broken dreams and false hopes.

I will be discussing this more fully in my upcoming book “Perspectives of Someone of No Particular Consequence, 99 Reasons to Occupy” #POSONPC99RTO

Sunday, March 11, 2012

On Anarchy and its Implications on the Occupy Movement

Let me begin by saying that I am an anarchist. While I would love for anarchistic principles to be an integral part of the occupy movement, I realize that in our current situation, it is far from ideal. I feel this way because until human beings are capable of separating themselves from their ego, base desires, and become more aware of the true implications of their actions, anarchy is currently not the best model. After having lived in an Occupy camp for 42 days, these flaws became glaringly apparent, and it is my opinion that anarchy, at this juncture, is impractical, but is certainly something to work towards.

Early in Occupy Dallas' encampment, chaos reigned. Everyone, myself included, felt they knew exactly what we should do, based upon their opinions, which were largely formed in a vacuum, without consulting others. What happened thereafter is a major reason why anarchy will not work at our current level of cultural sophistication. As I observed events unfold, I noticed the following things: People were making decisions that affected others based on emotion. People were unable to follow the golden rule, the cornerstone of humane anarchy, and people were unable to empathize with each other enough to actually know where the other person was coming from. I attribute these failings to several things.
First, we live and our psyches were developed in a society that places a large emphasis on individual desires with little to no regard for the needs of others. Additionally, our society is  largely based on the ideal of instant gratification, which has the effect of pushing people to do rash things with little to no regard to the future implications of their decisions. In addition to these very few of the decisions made were done by consensus, a concept I will discuss in more depth.

Right now, we are not prepared for true, moralistic anarchy. We, simply put, are not mature enough. A rational person would not give a shotgun to a young child, as they do not yet possess the judgment to use it properly, just as those that have not exhibited their capability to think not just of themselves, but of others cannot abide in anarchy. This issue is glaringly apparent in the current system; it is the very reason that we resist the 1%, as their insatiable greed is what brought us to this juncture. In order for anarchy to work, people MUST exercise better judgment than they ever have before. In order to say that we need no masters, we must first be able to honestly say that we have mastered ourselves.

Now this may seem authoritarian, but allow me to elaborate why it is not. The Occupy Movement has afforded us a rare opportunity. It has allowed all of us, of all different social backgrounds, ages, and all other things that make us who we are, to come together, united by common purpose, to enact positive change in the way that we are governed. We can use this solidarity we possess to explore each others perspectives, empathize, and to understand where our fellow man or woman is coming from; this is already occurring at occupy camps around the world. We can then use this knowledge, and our own character to realize that it is not what each of us wants, but about learning to compromise and achieving consensus, so that we all can get what we need. Only when we can move beyond our own individual desires towards what is best for everyone can we be entrusted with anarchy. Right now, our social system is in great peril; it is true reflection of what ails our society. Greed, selfishness, desire to dominate, and negligence are not just the traits of the 1%, they reside in us as well, and if we are to change the world, we need only begin by changing ourselves.

Anyone that knows me is aware that I value actions far more than words. We all see the the problems we face, but seeing the problem and doing something about it are two entirely different things. First, we must change ourselves, so that we truly are not just voices of dissent, but capable of providing the solutions. We do this by creating a forum in which we can freely exchange ideas with each other, peer to peer education. This, in essence, is what an occupy encampment is. As we educate ourselves on the plight of others, empathy is born. We use the information we have gathered, filtered through our empathy to answer questions like “How will my actions affect others?”, “Are my actions helping or hurting others?”, “Will my actions create or destroy suffering, especially for those that have no voice, our society's children and other creatures that call the Earth their home?", and, perhaps most importantly, “If this is the last decision I ever make, will I have a clear conscience about what I have done?” Only after this is done should a person take their perspective to others to share and integrate with their ideas. In doing this one eliminates the fallibility of individuals, and filter it through collective wisdom to create something new, humane, and a true reflection of the change we, the 99%, want to see in the world. Then, and only then, should we be entrusted with the most fragile and beautiful of human institutions, anarchy.