Monday, December 5, 2011

Occupy Protestors: The Second Noble Truth

The Occupy Movement has taken some detours -- civil disobedience, skirmishes, and most recently, hunger strikes -- but the theme is unchanged. It points a prophetic finger at greed. Corporate, institutional, entrenched greed. Greed as credo and lifestyle.  Only the most naive Occupiers believe their witness will compel the greedy to give anything back. Greed feeds on itself. 

A riot policeman chats with a man with a mohawk haircut at the perimeter fence of former Tempelhof airport during protests on June 20, 2009 in Berlin, Germany. Several thousand left-wing protesters had come to storm the grounds of the former airport, which led to confrontations with police. The protesters, led by the initiative "Squat Tempelhof," demand the immediate opening of the airport grounds to public access.
Take a bath and get a job. Newt dismisses the occupiers, insulting their industry and their hygiene in a phrase. It won't work. The Occupy movement, like it or not, has a message.
The message isn't a platform or a program. It's much simpler and more powerful. In Buddhist terms, it embodies the Four Noble Truths, particularly the second:
Suffering is caused by craving. By attachment, by longing for more and more. By focusing on acquisition and rentention.  By paying big premiums to insure your diamonds so you can replace them immediately if they are taken or lost. (Never mind that your diamonds could ease starvation for hundreds, if given freely).

I don't know how often Occupiers bathe or how many have jobs. I do know that they are teaching me and reminding me to pay attention to my attachments and to how my greed causes suffering for me and for others.