Opulence. Wealth. Privilege. These are among the cardinal principles that drive all Western societies. Every day, we wake up early and work hard, so that we can earn money and buy bigger homes, bigger cars, upgrade for our instant communication devices that let us brag about all the fancy restaurants, cars, clothes and rings we have in our lives. We want to make our equally possessed friends jealous.
And when I speak about possession, do not think I’m bringing up some antics about spirituality. The only spirit I’m talking about here is not religious in any means. It is a spirit that presumably is born of greed, an inherent human trait that can be curbed if we want too. But do we?
The image above is shocking because we are truly wealthy. The brats living in communes and saying they are ‘standing tough’ against the 1%, because they are part of the ‘poor’ 99%, are delusional. Yes, there is corporate greed in America, but like most Western nations, we have no true concept of poverty.
And if we do, it’s a shame because our nation can spend billions to further demolish a third world nation, yet support politicians who complain when too many people may ask for ‘some healthcare’ for their children. We are a greedy people. How many of us, including Occupy Protestors, would be willing to give up all of our amenities to help starving children in Africa or the Mideast?
How many of us would give up one of our cars to help fund electricity infrastructure and running water to remote villages in Iraq? Hey, we put Saddam in power and then helped destabilize the country with numerous bombs and sanctions. Can we now be held to task for something more important, like helping the people there?
Of course not. We are the land of the fat of the lamb. We indulge in capitalism and we are possessed by it. Darwin may say, “only the strong survive” and at the end of the night, we may be touched by an image I presented to introduce this Op-Ed, but we will go to Outback, order a onion stack and Cola, and hey, it’s Saturday! Let’s go out to a bar with some friends. Why not, we’re rich.
And we are rich. By any sense and standards, most Americans, British, French and whatever other G8 or even G20 nation you want to throw in is primarily rich. There is no excuse for any of its citizens to live in absolute poverty. Even our “poor” here have it good, albeit our discrepancy in wealth.
I write all this today because as we are having our economic downturn and the ‘world’ is fearful because families cannot afford their 5 bedroom 4 bathroom home for 3 people, a cat and a dog, or make the next payment on their BMW 5 series or heaven forbid, the government has to cut back on every budget but the precious war budget that is bigger than the economies of most nations, there is an odd justice if it all comes crashing down.
Do we deserve to struggle a bit?
From the perspective of America, we have survived economic downturns. The Great Depression was presumably horrible for the poor in this nation and the 1970s was terrifying too, as even oil was short with a poor economy. But lo and behold, America still stands and Americans are generally just as wealthy as ever.
So as you read my little blurb from your iPhone or flat-screen, top model computer system, feel free to share the image with your friends on Facebook. Tell them about your awesome weekend and the 5-star Vegas hotel you’ll be hitting up for the new year. But just know, that in some village children are living with maggots in their bellies and genocidal dictators hunting them down in a field. Know that starvation, nature or just plain neglect will send many children into the throes of orphanage with no government to intercede in their lives. Know that your new iPhone with the vital ‘speak and it carries out your search’ feature could have repaired some kid’s left-damning cleft lip or fed, clothed and educated 5 kids.
We have exploited the world. America and England, the very smiling Queen with a crown of jewels on her damned head, were built on the blood of exploitation. Africa was ravaged. Native Americans were robbed in America, while countless people across the world were raped, ripped and destroyed for profit by the British Empire. The fruits of our nations were sowed under the blood and tears of agony of other nations. And while we all enjoy the jewels of the empire’s victory and exploitation of the poor, wearing upon our heads the crown of our wealth, know the people whose forefathers we exploited to establish said wealth still struggle and if anyone is the “99%”, it is them.
It is time for self-reflection. It’s said Rome did not fall because it was weak, but rather the people were too strong in self-indulgence. It is only a matter of time before the increasing greed and girth of desire of a nation reaches a critical point where it bursts at its very seams. And believe me, we’ve all been at the table of plenty for a long time and our bowels are full of sh*t. How long before we burst and are left dead in the wastes of our wealth?