The Occupy movement has been a wake-up call. Although the media first balked at covering it and has at times reduced it to its most absurd, the stories keep coming. People are being made aware of important core issues: the huge divide between the rich and poor. There are poor, and it’s no fun being poor.
This isn’t a “lunatic fringe.” The 99 percent are a flash mob of humanity waking up to their own best self-interests.
Encampments may have come down and winter surely challenges the hardiest of demonstrators, but the Occupy movement is still making news. The alliances are at times somewhat shaky, but there are hundreds of thousands of little movements that are inspiring true hope and deep change.
Most who guess at what figure makes up the 1 percent are wrong. 2009 statistics use $343,927 in annual income as the dividing line. In our affluent mountain community, more than 1 percent will see that number and realize, “We have met the enemy, and he is us,” to quote Pogo. Forbes Magazine acknowledges that you probably “had more money to start with than most people earn in their lifetimes.”
Also, Forbes is right in its article, “Who are the real 1 percent?,” saying that you aren’t, for the most part, any one particularly greedy person in the 1.2 million that make up the top financial tier. Some say it’s only the top .1 percent with whom they choose to quarrel, but it’s not the ultra rich people either. It’s their corporations. It’s the insurance companies and big pharma, oil, defense and the large banks.
In the face of so much wealth in the hands of so few, Occupiers, the 99 percent, are struggling to stay in their homes while a scandalous financial system evicts and forecloses on them. College students are speaking up against tuition hikes, huge loan debt and no meaningful jobs. Patients are frightened to see their health care choices dictated to them by for-profit businesses.
In a variety of ways, the 99 percent had a hard year. We are learning that individual behaviors are not separate from the well being of the planet.
As the sun returns, and its rays shine a bit longer each day, the 99 percent goes forth into the Arab Spring and a global peaceful revolution continues. To the wide range of protesters and their numerous issues, power to the potpourri! After all, we are 99 percent.
Hannah B. Hayes is a former Both Sides Now debate columnist, small-business owner and peace activist. She has been a part of the Evergreen community for more than 35 years.