Get James David Audlin's Current Book at Amazon!

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Larger Ninety-Nine Percent

Supporters of the Occupy movement in the United States are fond of pointing out their federal government’s hypocrisy for supporting the citizens’ peaceful uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, and elsewhere, and then coördinating a police effort to literally beat down the uprisings in the United States.

But these Occupy supporters are themselves often guilty of the same kind of hypocrisy.

Even though those who started the United States version on Wall Street, New York City, drew their inspiration from Egypt and Tunisia, and even though the Egyptian movement has sent advisors to Wall Street, some of the U.S. Occupy people have become culturocentric: they claim, erroneously, that the movement was born on Wall Street, and that it spread worldwide from that beginning. No, it began in Egypt and Tunisia, and spread worldwide, including the United States, from there.

I've had it put to me that the Occupy movement is against the ultra-rich on Wall Street, and not against the government, but the signs and voices I hear in the United States and in the entire world are saying the same thing: that complacent, bribed governments of puppets to the rich are enabling the plutocrats to get ever wealthier at the expense of the 99%.

It’s all very nice being loyal to your own country. But it’s not so nice when it not only ignores the facts, but becomes an implicit racism. So let us accept the truth that the U.S. Occupy movement did not begin in the United States, and to say otherwise denigrates the wisdom and efforts of the peaceful citizen uprisings that preceded it - and continue to this day.

I say this because there’s another way in which American Occupy supporters hurt their own movement outside their country:

They forget the global perspective, in which the entire United States (and Western Europe and Japan) are the ultra-rich 1%.

They forget that other countries don't have strong environmental controls, and are being polluted with carcinogens and particulates that kill. They forget that other countries don't have strong labor laws, and children are forced to work to survive, that people work incredibly long hours under inhuman conditions - and count themselves lucky to have a job at all!

They forget that the 99% in the United States – even when they’ve lost their jobs and their pensions – are far better off than most people in the world. Yes, there’s a gulf between the 1% and the 99% in the United States – but that gulf is far wider between the billionaires and the world’s poor.

They forget that the poorest American, the American with the least access to health care and decent food, is still considerably better off than most people in the world. In the United States there are social services, food stamps, and other support systems. In much of the world, there are no support systems.

They forget that many countries don't have the constitutional freedom to assemble and speak in order to seek redress from the government - and, even if the Republican Party apparatchiks are seeking to take away this right, for now Americans still have it where many other peoples do not, and that therefore it is the responsibility of all Americans to speak out in behalf of those who cannot!

When the U.S. Occupy movement ignores the desperate plight of the poor in most of the world it is actually helping the evil plutocrats, the ultra-rich monster billionaires to continue their rape of our planet for the sake of profit. Shame on those who ignore and overlook this overwhelming global horror!

Here in Panama, some folks I know count themselves fortunate to earn $6-$8 a day. In parts of Africa, people earn that amount in a month. Others here, and in Africa, do not have any employment, any source of income, and are reduced to relying on family or friends, or, if they have none, the desperation of begging or petty thieving.

Strangers in my little mountain village stop me to ask, simply because I'm a gringo, if I can hire them. When I explain that I'm very poor, they ask if I know of any other gringos who are hiring. They are polite, but they are clearly desperate.

I live in a land where many people would be thrilled to earn a U.S. minimum wage – that rate would earn them in about 45 minutes what it takes them a day or more to earn, if they have a job.

We who support the Occupy movement must of course be concerned for the poor in our own countries, but we must never lose sight of the fact that the abyss between rich and poor is a global issue.

The same ultra-rich who are responsible for these problems in the United States have so raped the world that there are even greater problems elsewhere. There could never be a Bhopal in the United States, thanks to labor laws. There could never be maquiladoras, or child slavery. There are at least some resources available for those who are unemployed.

Here in Panama, for instance, if you’re unemployed, there is nothing, and you're desperate to find a way to feed your family, along with many other equally desperate poor people.

A family of Native Americans in my community with whom I am friends live in a shack made of corrugated tin and castoff boards. The floor is dirt. The stove is a wood fire. Their water comes in buckets from the river. Their shower is one of those buckets. They have no electricity.

The conditions in which they live would not be allowed in the United States.

These friends don't even know what a television is. They've never seen one in their lives. They are amazed by my little three-dollar camera, when I take pictures of them. One of the children found a broken camera in the road, no doubt tossed away by a wealthy expatriate American, and – even though it doesn’t work – she loves to aim it at me and pretend to take my picture. The children play outdoors, rain or shine, in the same threadbare (but always clean!) clothes and bare feet. I have watched them turn a stray plastic grocery bag into a kite and a tree branch into a swing, and remembered my own children whining, despite all their electronic toys, that there was “nothing to do!” This family of a hardworking mother and father and six children are desperately poor – yet they are happier than a lot of whining Americans.

Several studies have shown the world is capable of supporting its human population - the problem is one of distribution, not availability. Yes, birth control is needed worldwide. But it’s not for the United States, which consumes about 60% of the world’s nonrenewable resources, to preach to the rest of the world about conserving resources.

We need to think triage – help most immediately where the worst problems are – and that would be large regions of Africa and Asia, and even Central and South America, and the Native American reservations of North America.

We need to think long-term strategies for getting the overabundance in countries like the United States, where farmers are paid not to grow crops, to countries like Eritrea and Sudan.

We need to help U.S. citizens overcome the propaganda that has them believing that the Occupy people should take a bath and get a job. That, moreover, nobody should be helping those dark-skinned people who worship cows or whatever Faux Noise says, and realize that, as Jesus said, we are ALL G-d's Children!

We need also to insist that the United States government stop its campaigns against the world’s poor: sending its own poor children to kill the poor children in foreign lands. Sending low-flying military planes in Iraq and Afghanistan, simply to keep the local populations in a state of anxiety, so they will lose the ability to act decisively.

It is written in the Acts of the Apostles (in the Christian Scriptures):

“The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. ‘We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,’ he said. ‘Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.’

“Peter and the other apostles replied: ‘We must obey G-d rather than human beings!’”
This tells me that we are required by Scripture to obey one Law only, and that is the Law of G-d, and obey human laws only to the degree that they conform to that Law – and, when they do not conform, and when the forces that decree these human laws don't obey the Sacred Law – it is our sacred responsibility to SPEAK OUT!

* * *

IN MEMORIAM Eleanor May Vock Audlin, 10 September 1926 - 25 November 2011, who was the author's mother and his first teacher of spirituality and honor and goodness.

1 comment:

  1. We see your mother's steps through your own spirituality and honor and goodness. My condolences Jim.