Thank you, Occupy Wall Street

I lived through the Vietnam Era.

Just a few of the consequences of that war:

It killed 58,220 U.S. soldiers. More than 150,000 were wounded, at least 21,000 were permanently disabled, and 830,000 suffered symptoms of PTSD. In addition, about 50,000 American servicemen deserted, and an estimated 125,000 U.S. citizens of military draft age fled to Canada.

Besides that, about 20 million gallons of Agent Orange and other herbicides were sprayed over Southeast Asia, resulting in more than 4 million human victims of dioxin poisoning, and uncountable numbers of non-human ones.

The Veterans Administration, which oversees veterans exposed to Agent Orange, lists the known consequences of exposure to service members as prostate cancer, respiratory cancers, multiple myeloma, Diabetes mellitus type 2, B-cell lymphomas, soft-tissue sarcoma, chloracne, porphyria cutanea tarda, peripheral neuropathy, and spina bifida in veterans’ children.

Meanwhile, oh man, were some U.S. corporations making profits on it all. (And that trillion dollars or so spent on the war machine in Iraq and Afghanistan in the present day? Most of it went to corporate suppliers.)

The 1960s and 70s were also the heyday of war protest in the U.S. Whatever you might say about that movement, you have to say this: It made a difference. Lyndon Johnson left office on a downbeat, Richard Nixon ended up soundly hated by large numbers of Americans, and Congress finally acted to end the war in 1973.

For 5 weeks now, Occupy Wall Street has … well, occupied Wall Street.

The major news media, which has hungrily sucked the Teabagger tit for so long, hanging breathlessly on every little slogan, tri-cornered hat and misspelled sign, is – after refusing for weeks to recognize that Wall Street protestors even existed – finally beginning to notice that something non-teabaggery but even more significant is taking place. Protests have now spread to more than 900 U.S. cities and capital cities around the world.

One thing very few of us realize, most of the time, is that corporations, and government, and even wealth itself, exists largely as an elaborate fiction. We buy into this huge shared-universe role-playing game, and by our belief and actions, support the imagined power, wealth and privilege.

The wealthy and privileged are equally caught up in the game, failing to realize that the rest of us can pick up our toys and go home. Take away the respect and deference of the people surrounding you, and though your name is (for instance) Donald Trump, you’re suddenly nothing but a commoner with funky hair and delusions of significance.

What’s happening right now is that the respect, deference, belief and support that makes banks and corporate power brokers so effective and powerful is being withdrawn. Bit by bit, and worldwide, something subtle but deep is changing. High time, in my view.

Never underestimate the power of a small group of people to change the world. In fact, it is the only way it ever has. ~ Margaret Mead

You know me through this blog and hopefully through my book as a writer and thinker on atheism and other social subjects, but I’m also an insolvent, under-employed small-town nebbish with an aging pickup truck, a computer, some books, a few clothes, and not much else.

I don’t expect to be given anything, but I do expect the game players on the other side — the government, the corporations, the bankers and bigwigs — to play fair.

And that ain’t happening, fellow gamesters.

[ One little example from my own recent experience:  I got a check from one of my freelance writing clients, written on an account in Citizens Bank. I took it in to the local branch to cash it and was told that since I didn’t have an account with Citizens, I’d have to pay $7 to cash the check. Silly me, I had assumed that if a business owner deposited money into a bank account, and then wrote a check to someone, the bank would honor the check for the full amount. But some bright boy at Citizens Bank central office, apparently eager to screw even more money out of people they consider powerless to do anything but bend over and take it, decided that was not to be the case. —I walked out with a muttered ‘Eff you.’ ]

I say Bravo, protestors! Bravo Occupy Wall Street! I can’t get there, but I am sooo with you. Why? Because …

I am the 99 percent.

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Goodbye Patheos—Hank Fox Bows Out
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Goodbye Patheos—Hank Fox Bows Out

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