“Occupy” movement attempts to justify envy


By: Robert E. Meyer

Unfortunately the “Occupy” movement is becoming more violent in its orientation. What was once billed as a liberal incarnation of the Tea Party, has become a daily bazaar of collective anarchy. Some of the protests have even resulted in the death of participants, but I think it will take a watershed incident like the shooting at Kent State University in 1970, before there is significant concern over the escalating violence.

One individual challenged me by asking “Does not your faith speak against greed in your book of scripture?” Of course it does, but Christianity is not one-dimensional or monolithic in it’s critique of improper states of mind. Christianity also tells us that envy is one of the seven deadly sins, and reminds us that coveting breaks a commandment. If anything, this movement is built on a foundation of envy, coveting and entitlement. Such an edifice is doomed to fall like a house of cards.

So while the Occupy Movement may have some legitimate gripes, and even make points that are otherwise valid, I can’t agree with its philosophical grounding and methods of operation. One cannot justify lawlessness and violence to protest greed, anymore that you can destroy the village to save it. A saying attributed to Winston Churchill was that “If you are 20 and not a liberal, you have no heart. If you’re 40 and still liberal, then you haven’t got a brain. Obviously Churchill was pointing to the tendencies in forsaking blind liberal idealism, which waxes colder as people acquire life experience and gradually change their views about what is fair and just.

Expanding on that theme is the great Greek philosopher Aristotle. His ancient analysis below reads like a synopsis characterizing the worldview and mindset of the Occupy Movement.

“They [young people] have exalted notions, because they have not been humbled by life or learned its necessary limitations; moreover, their hopeful disposition makes them think themselves equal to great things – and that means having exalted notions. They would always rather do noble deeds than useful ones: Their lives are regulated more by moral feeling than by reasoning – all their mistakes are in the direction of doing things excessively and vehemently. They overdo everything – they love too much, hate too much, and the same with everything else.”

Again Aristotle tells us why so many young people were mesmerized with Obama in 2008.

“Youth is easily deceived because it is quick to hope.”

No doubt Obama was very calculating in using that keynote theme “Hope and Change’ during the 2008 presidential campaign. Interestingly enough, while the teeming throngs protest on Wall Street, saying they want a renewed implementation of financial regulations, such as Glass-Steagall, few have come to Pennsylvania Avenue for a redress of grievances. Is it any coincidence that the president and liberal members of congress, such as Nancy Pelosi, have given “Occupy” their ringing endorsements?

Another person only half jokingly suggested to me “It’s time to storm the Bastille again.” Now those sort of sentiments may well warm the heart of a revolutionary, but we shouldn’t joke about that sort of thing if we understand history. I thought about how the French peasants overthrew their aristocracy and Crown. And this lead to The Reign of Terror, with kangaroo courts, blood in the streets and the guillotine for thousands, all in the name of “reason.” It then ushered in the rise of Napoleon, and his wars across Europe as the byproduct. I don’t find much romance in that kind of scenario.

The point is that violent means of overcoming injustice often lead to a greater injustice than the one vanquished. At this point, how can we help thinking about the refrain of the 1971 anthem by the rock band The Who, entitled Won’t Get Fooled Again. The lyrics of the refrain follow…

I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around me
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
And I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again
Don’t get fooled again

The youth of four decades past had wisdom expressed in music conveying the probable unanticipated results of their labor of dissent. I couldn’t help thinking of the reformed radical of the ’60s, daring to ask what sort of government would exist after the overthrow of the current order. He was told “We’ll worry about that after the revolution.” That’s kind of like shooting the captain, removing his body from the cockpit, then expecting the aircraft to land itself.

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