Questions about the 99% / by Simmon Li

This is a post about the Occupy movement and all the chatter that's been generated around it. Specifically, I want to talk about the response posts. Those "We are the 53%" replies, started by some conservative movements as a counter weight to the "We are the 99%" to others. One in particular caught my eye:

"I have a steady job with a regular paycheck, great benefits, and lots of room for promotion. Next year, I will be paid to go to college and graduate with a guaranteed position making a decent salary. I am the 1% of the 99% that decided hard work and sacrifice were more prudent than complaining about how life is too hard and I'm not getting any free handouts."

I get the sentiment. Hard work should get you places, and there really is no free lunch. This is not something that I think Occupy protesters would disagree with. First, I want to say that I have huge respect for this man in choosing to serve his country. Today in Canada is Remembrance Day, where we take time to remember the sacrifices made by our troops in the great wars. Veteran's Day in the US serves much the same purpose. It just happens to be a coincidence that I saw this post today and am now writing a post.

But there's something that really bothers me about that picture. There's just something that doesn't quite resonate with me. The army, in essence, is a public jobs program. But the one thing that does jump out at me is the sense of hope. At the very least, he knows he has some place to go. That he belongs. When I see some of the Occupy pictures, I get a overwhelming sense that there are some people that have lost hope. This is more the case in America than in Canada, but the idea is the same; the difference is the object of hope.

At that level of understanding, the message on the card is interesting. I am reminded of the parallel between nations and this idea of development and under-development. The notion of quick fixes and a uni-dimensional approaches to solving problems of this kind are fruitless. "Get a job!" is not exactly helpful in any way other than stating the obvious. And perhaps I am putting words in the mouths of Occupy, but life is too hard precisely because there is no sense of belonging or hope. In that sense, the hardship of life becomes hard to surpass. In contrasting the basic attitudes between this man and some Occupy protesters, there seems to me to be a deficit of hope.