One of my more popular posts over the past few years concerned a Dr. Seuss fable called The Sneetches. You can read the post to get the details of the fable but what’s important here is that Dr. Seuss’ story informed my perception of human nature. As I wrote back then:
This simple tale has always encapsulated for me a philosophy about the human condition. Take any set of humans, no matter how seemingly similar, and they will find a means to discriminate among each other and sow the seeds of discord. It happens between whites and blacks … it happens between dark-skinned blacks and light-skinned blacks, and so on. Each time you think you’ve got a group of people who are more similar than different, they discover a way to find a meaningless difference about which to segregate.
And so it goes with the Occupy Wall Street crowd in Zuccotti Park in New York City prior to their recent eviction. Jon Stewart, sadly one of the best sources of dead-on political commentary and news considering his show is a comedy, documented the mind-blowing schism that had occurred among the OWS protesters.Vodpod videos no longer available.
Yes, the one world, fairness for all movement had split along … wait for it … economic lines. In the words of one protester there was the aristocratic bunch and the ghetto bunch. So once again my Sneetches philosophy of human nature was confirmed. The rank hypocrisy implicit in this schism was on further display when one protester explained to Daily Show “correspondent” Samantha Bee that everyone should have an iPad, just not HIS iPad. Sharing was paramount so long as it wasn’t that particular protester who had to do the sharing.
It was easy at first for folks like me who voted for hope and change in 2008 to become enamored with the OWS movement. The movement in its first few weeks highlighted the inequity of our current system and put a magnifying glass over the criminal bankers who have yet to pay for their crimes. But you can shine a light on a problem for just so long before it becomes as boring as a test pattern. Without moving to the next stage of suggesting viable solutions, the stagnant atmosphere that develops invites all of our worst human tendencies to come to the fore. Hence, the crime rate within the occupation had increased, the friction with police had increased and as this Daily Show video shows, unity within the organization itself had decreased. In fact, one could argue there never was organization despite all the “general assemblies”.
OWS is becoming the exception that proves the rule there is strength in numbers. As OWS protests have spread across the country, so has increasing discord. When you add local law enforcement the potential for explosive situations multiplies. The movement is devolving into one huge temper tantrum.
Still, like Linus in his pumpkin patch, I always thought I could at least count on sincerity winning the day within OWS. Alas, Jon Stewart has taught me otherwise. The OWS protesters cannot see past the nose on their own face any better than the rest of us. What I thought was a sincere rebirth of 1960’s idealism in the 21st century has turned out to be just another bunch of Sneetches.