“Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.” ~ John Lennon, IMAGINE.
We live in the Autumn of Occupy. People of diverse national, social and economic backgrounds have risen together to highlight the injustices that have been perpetrated by a small group of corporate pirates who’s greed nearly brought the world to its knees. Human compassion has lost its place in the governance of the world, if it ever had a place to begin with. Americans love to think that we are the international symbol of goodwill. Most other countries will tend to dispute that, seeing us more as a hegemony that intervenes only when it is in our corporate interests. It is this compassion, or lack thereof, that I expound upon today.
All around the world, people are taking to the streets to trumpet the excesses of the ruling class. These same people who are sitting out there in Zuccoti Park, or in front of the Ohio Statehouse, or any of the thousands of other Occupy sites are putting their lives on indefinite hold for the hope of a better world for the children of the world. They are exercising compassionate leadership. Buddhists have a word for someone who places the need of all others above the needs of self. This is called bodhisattva. It specifically means that a Buddha will wait to achieve nirvana until all others have ascended to that plane. I cannot think of a better term to describe the many people who are standing for the rest of us.
The naysayers of this movement like to deride occupiers as “dirty hippies” “living on the government dime” “who need to get a job” and “take a shower.” How is this any different that the ascetics who trained the Siddhartha Gautama before he became the Buddha? They are not. The people of Occupy have come to a collective awakening that the world’s resources are being gobbled up and that greedy corporations are swarming the carcass of the earth like so many maggots on a corpse. Mother Nature is under attack and it will take a legion of bodhisattvas like James Hansen, Bill McKibben, Tim DeChristopher, and my friend Climate Hawk to hold the vultures at bay. The ruling class refuses to regulate their own greed. Who can blame them. They will be dead before the earth breathes its last breath, but they’ll have yachts and mansions and diamonds and dames in the meantime.
You’re probably thinking that I am crazy. There’s no “ruling class,” brother terry. We are a democracy and we’re turning the world into a hundred other democracies just like us. We are changing the world from a bunch of oppressed states into little mini-me’s. But is that what we really want? And do we really have a true democracy? How is having the choice between two rich white guys, with apologies to the random woman or person of color who manages to sneak into a race, representative of our populace. The system has been gamed to make it so that we have an overwhelming number of lawyers, captains of industry and career politicians making all of our decisions for us. Politics has been subverted from public service to corporate service. The politician who spends the most money wins Ninety-five percent of all elections. It’s all about who writes the biggest check.
So, how can we get around this conundrum of rich versus poor? They control all of the money and the use it to keep their boot on the neck of the rest of the populace. We have to devote all of our time and our energy to feeding and housing our children. If we are fortunate enough to own a house, they take more money away in taxes to fund their corporate welfare. It seems like the poor are fighting a losing battle right? It seems overwhelming and futile. We should just give up, let the bastards have whatever they want. We can’t win. I have to admit that the task is daunting. It will be hard work. Many if not all of us will be dead before the battle is won. So, does that mean we just give up?
A funny thing happened on the way to the bank. The banker looked up and a dozen people wanted to close their accounts. And that dozen turned into a dozen dozens. And then a thousand dozens. The supermarket opened on Saturday morning and nobody came into shop. The Exxon station opened up, only to watch watched all of the bicycles go riding by. A week went by where nobody bought a single product from Monsanto, Georgia Pacific or Proctor & Gamble. Big Macs, whoppers, three-piece chicken dinners and Godfather’s pizzas sat dying on the warmer because families decided to start cooking at home. The people decided to redirect their resources.
We have one thing that the ruling class will never have. Seven billion people. Each and every one of us has the ability to become an economic bodhisattva. There are some of us who stand in the street with a sign. Others go to jail day after day to stand for what they believe in. Some donate time to the movement. Others donate money and resources. Others still inundate their “representatives” with correspondence of their frustration and ire. Even if the masters dominate sixty percent of our resources, that still leaves the other forty percent. We can choose to withdraw that from this shadow economy designed to leech every dollar from us.
Every one of us has a finite amount of resources available to us. I’m not saying that we need to hoard every dollar and wait for the apocalypse. What I am saying is make conscious decisions on how you spend every dollar. Give your dollars to family run businesses. Source you food from local sources. Use local tradespeople for your material needs. Support indigenous vendors. Boycott the firms run by the pirates. Become an economic bodhisattva.
We all have the ability to lead. We have become a population of sheeple who allow ourselves to be diverted with television, video games, computers, sports and intoxicants. We have become over-medicated by a medical industrial complex that seeks to control us and siphon even more of our resources. It is time to rise up. It is time to throw off the anime and rebuild our communities. I’m not talking about cities and towns. I’m talking about friends and neighbors. I’m talking about extended families of the ones we love and care about. I’m talking about building a shield of universal love and using it to repel the cockroaches raiding the carcass. I’m talking about occupying our own minds and leading through compassion. This battle has only just begun and it can be won. Take the way of the bodhisattva and anything is possible for yourself and for humanity.