I posted this last night on G+, but G+ is G+. I want a larger audience to see this, so I am reposting it here. I’ve made some slight edits to this version for clarity.
Is the #occupy Movement Hypocritical?
I’m sitting here in Galway, above Eyre Square, and waiting for a large transfer between web hosts to finish. While this proceeds, I hunt for ways to occupy myself. A good ons it to watch Galwegians in Eyre Square going home through the blustery rain, and how they avoid the wee little eye of the storm that is Galway’s turning out for the occupy movement.
Let me set the scene:
There’s a fair bit of food traffic past and through the encampment; a constant stream of pedestrians is headed down to Ceannt Station for their bus, not to mention the shoppers who are out in force this evening. At this point in time the encampment has become a Feature in their minds. Occupy Eyre Square has become part of the Galway scenery; unless it spontaneously catches fire, Galwegians are not going give it much more thought time than a quick flick of the eyes. But still, you have people like me who arrive back in Galway to find – with some admitted bemusement – the Occupy Eyre Square camp: I duly read all of the signs at the camp were read and the happy (or unhappy, as the case may be) cordially greeted. The Occupy camp was formally Acknowledged.
Now with the scene set, I’ll come back around to my original question: Is the whole #occupy* movement hypocritical? Occupy Eyre Square is comprised of the supposedly-disenfranchised 99% of ordinary Irish folk who’ve decided to take action about our nation’s handling of corrupt financial institutions. They cry “hypocrisy!” at our government’s doing while they beat at their breasts and rip at their clothes about how Hard We Have Things. Two caveats:
- Fair enough. The #occupy protests have a point. Actually, #occupy has really good point: The staggering level of corruption seen in Anglo Irish Bank has only been matched by what I perceive as half-hearted efforts to prosecute former executives, for what is essentially barefaced embezzlement…even as the government gives Anglo Irish Bank ever more money, just to keep the bank afloat.
- Second: This isn’t a conscious hypocritical, like when I nag my wife about leaving her hair in the bathroom sink. This is an unconscious hypocritical, the kind of hypocritical that arises when you don’t have a full awareness of your situation.
I am an unemployed recovering depressive who supports a wife and two children, the quintessential flat-broke college student who lives hand-to-mouth and subsists on government income. And you know what? It isn’t all that bad. I have consumer electronics aplenty; I’m writing this post on a recently upgraded laptop while I draft speaker notes for a talk on my iPad.
I enjoy a comfortable home life. Our cottage has all of the amenities you’d expect of a modern home. We don’t starve. We all eat well (I eat _too_ well), and our two children don’t lack. I’m receiving a comprehensive education in contemporary subject without having to pay anything out of pocket beyond every day living expenses.
My wife was in hospital time and again over the summer for treatment of a broken ankle. The level of care and support she has received for this has been nothing but excellent, if you accept the waiting times. I know our healthcare system is under strain from too many patients and barely sufficient budget, but the staff at the HSE have performed miracles with what they have.
I’m a citizen of Ireland and a citizen of the European Union. As Ireland is both a constitutional democracy and respects the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, I have a legally protected freedom of expression. Boy, you sure might not like what I have to say, but I can still say it. Want an interesting factoid? Ireland is one of the most successful countries on Earth as determined by the American nonprofit think-tank Fund for Peace.
Put shortly, this means that Ireland doesn’t suffer massive internal displacement because one ethnic minority is trying to kill another; people aren’t building junk rafts to escape to England because our government is trying to kill them; we have sustainable economic growth and freedom of expression (a censor isn’t waiting to delete my post, or send the Gardai around in force to clear #occupy* out of Eyre Square); it means quite simply that Ireland generally enjoys a high standard of living, and will continue to enjoy a high standard of living.
#occupyeyresquare, I understand your pain and rage, but you need to consider what have before you get greedy for what you don’t.