|Thoughts on Occupation
By: David Soyka
The other day my kid asked me what I thought of the unfolding growth of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Truth is, I’m not sure what I think of it, though I do like that it’s finally changing the national conversation (such as it is) away “from how do we make rich people richer and hope that maybe some of it will trickle down to us regular folk” (which didn’t work for Reagan, by the way, though as an indication of how much times have changed, Reagan now seems like not such a bad guy anymore) to “look at all these people who are getting screwed while rich people get richer.”
I’ve worked for enough corporations to know that they are for the most part amoral, soulless, and generally not healthy environments. But they do help you pay the rent. And what the folks sitting in the parks are complaining about is their inability to do that, which I suppose means they’d be willing to join the very forces of evil they are currently denouncing.
Since I’m a cynical kind of guy, I have to wonder if perhaps a lot of the voluntary borderline homeless have left their parents' nests to protest the state of things less because of their commitment to social issues than a sense of adventure and not much else to lose. Sort of like going to anti-war rallies during the sixties because of the potential promise (though not as frequently realized as you might imagine) of free love.
Still, I think everyone should have a youthful adventure. However, let’s recognize that the stakes aren’t all that high for the protestors. The real test of moral mettle will come when it’s time to decide in middle age whether ethics require you to resign that cushy, not overly demanding corporate job that feeds your family because they exploit workers in third-world countries.
As with most things in life, it’s not a black-and-white decision. Most of us struggle (particularly those of us in advertising) about where we draw the line in “selling our souls” to our corporate masters. And, where I draw the line isn’t going to be the same where someone else will. (I would never, for example, work for a tobacco company, yet I happen to know a very nice and otherwise socially responsible guy who does. Go figure.) Doesn’t necessarily make me better or worse than the next guy.
Except that is, for mortgage companies that foreclose on people (already taken advantage of by soulless corporations who could care less whether their customers could actually afford the mortgages they hawked as long as it contributed to the bottom line) who hold Halloween homeless-themed parties.
It’s when I read this stuff that I feel more in sympatico with an Occupy Wall Streeter than any actual Wall Streeter.
David Soyka is freelance copywriter who has conceptualized and developed a range of strategic advertising, marketing, training, and technical communications for advertising agencies and Fortune 1000 companies in print, web, and broadcast formats. A former newspaper reporter and English teacher, he is a published author of ficiton and non-fiction, and a DJ at WTJU-FM. Find him online here.
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