Not a sentiment I am proud of, but one that is my reality. I’ve been struggling for some time with the idea of seeking change in a world where I often feel so powerless and helpless. I’m surrounded by maddening and disheartening injustice that I am helpless to change. I am forced to be aware of it, but powerless to do anything about it but spread awareness (so that others may similarly suffer, because god forbid we ever actually unite and perform truly impacting/beneficial actions as a human race). Moreover, I can’t trust anyone. There is always someone out there trying to co-opt or bandwagon or who fails to truly get it, but likes to feel helpful and spreads a bastardized version of the message like a crappy game of telephone.
Or worse, I ignorantly open my mouth to support something I see as an injustice, only to find out that my sentimentality has been manipulated or that my concern/empathy/help is frankly unwelcomed.
You can be damned for not understanding, damned for attempting to understand, damned for not knowing everything, damned for not standing up in support, damned for standing up in support. Basically, you are damned because we live in a world full of damned people.
The people we envy are usually miserable. The people we pity are usually miserable. The only happiness we have are those who understand us (and wish to continue to understand us) and our simple hobbies and passions.
I thought I’d encountered a movement that was all-encompassing, that might have the potential to be far reaching and inspiring and, therefore, effective. I thought I’d met people who were empathy-driven, humanity-driven, fairness-driven.
I am more than willing to admit my ignorance in certain areas. There are a million life experiences I will never know or encounter. But I approach life with a constant yearning to understand and a willingness and openness to understand from another’s point of view. Point out my failings and ignorance, and after a moment of shameful embarrassment, I am eager to learn and change. I want to be the best person I can be, and I am willing to admit that I am not currently the best person I can be. I am imperfect. Every day I fight against my baser instincts and ideas indoctrinated in me by an ignorant society. I thought I had tapped into a group of people that felt the same. I felt less alone. I felt hope. I thought, if people like us could come together and brainstorm for a better future, a future that was not dependent upon existing power structures, maybe the future of humanity wasn’t so bleak. But I can see now that that was a naive dream.
Because as I observed those who claimed to hold certain principles and values, I found belligerence, pettiness, othering, pride, pretense, elitism, smugness, vindictiveness. I feel no more willing to support such people than I am willing to support the smug elitism of self-serving power-seekers, or liars, cheats, and swindlers, or warmongers, or ignorant sheep, or those who are driven by hate. Sure, we can argue over degrees of terrible, but at the end of the day, it is still a terrible way to be and not something I wish to endorse or subject myself to.
And I can tell you this much - that isn’t a problem of Occupy. That is a problem of humanity. One group of fallible, ignorant humans who think they know what is right fighting against another group of fallible, ignorant humans who think they know what is right.
No movement will ever succeed on a grand scale until people can learn how to stop fighting, how to stop forcing their will upon others. We shun and reject our own well-meaning allies when they stumble. We toss the ignorant to the wolves instead of educating the willing. We care more about being right and bitter than virtuous. We follow banners and brands rather than principles and ideas.
Perhaps if everyone just paused, lay down their arms, and stopped trying to yell and exert their will upon others for just a moment, for one split second we would know what harmony truly is.
So I realized, is life, on a deeper philosophical level, about changing others, about yelling loud enough that others will feel compelled to act in the direction you wish for them to? Or is life about finding your own enlightenment (true enlightenment, not some pride-driven attainment of righteousness) and finding your own happiness in a way that is most symbiotic and sustainable? For that is truly all I have discovered I have power over. This is one parasite who no longer wishes to play the game. Stomp on me, walk over me, leave me behind. Frankly, I no longer care.