I have been following the Occupy (fill in the blank) movement trying to figure out just what exactly the occupiers want. I have heard and read countless interviews with participants and just can’t seem to place my finger on why they are actually protesting. College loans? Lack of opportunities? Concentration of wealth? It seems that the answer to all of these is “yes.” There are other reasons as well but I don’t need to list them all.
I share some things in common with the people occupying various cities. First, I am not one of the 1% of the wealthiest Americans. Second, I…um…I like to go camping.
I look at life through a very different lens than the people involved in the “Occupy” movement. I believe very strongly in personal accountability. I am not a rich man. I have chosen to enter a field that will never make me rich. As a schoolteacher I work very hard at my job to provide for my family. I do not look at others with envy but instead am thankful for the many blessings in my life.
I take responsibility for my actions. I was fortunate enough to have parents who were able to pay for my college education. I graduated from Assumption College and went to work selling motorhomes and travel trailers for a living. After twelve years I found myself wanting to change careers and become a teacher. This, of course, meant going back to college. This time I had to pay for school myself. After researching schools, I chose Worcester State College. Being a state school meant that I could afford the tuition while still receiving a quality education. I could have gone to a more “prestigious” school, but I didn’t want to put myself deep in debt before going into a modest paying career.
Once out of school, I worked tirelessly at finding work. I took on substitute teaching jobs and worked part-time when I wasn’t out actively trying to find a job. I networked with anyone and everyone who was willing to listen to my qualifications. Eventually, I was able to find a job at the school where I presently work.
Ok, so you are thinking, “Why is this guy spilling out his life story?”
I have a couple of reasons for sharing my story here. I can’t relate to the movement sweeping the country because I don’t look for handouts. Ultimately, that seems to be what the movement is all about. People who are unhappy with their lot in life are looking for those who have what they want (money) to share it with them. For a few reasons I can’t relate to their thinking no matter how much I try.
First, I could have continued in my original sales job, but it didn’t provide for me what I was looking for. I made more money in sales, in fact, considerably more money. I also found myself working nights and weekends and often not having the time I desired to spend with my family. Had money been a major desire of mine, then sacrifices would have had to be made. This seems like an obvious statement but I believe many people have lost site of this fact. Riches weren’t going to be magically handed to me overnight. It was going to take a long time and at a great sacrifice. Make no mistake, I work very hard now but I also get to enjoy vacations and summers, two things which would have been greatly limited had I stayed in the business world.
Second, when I went back to school I could have gone to a more expensive college. Bottom line, I didn’t think I could afford that route. I didn’t want to be saddled with student loans that would have taken years to pay off. I decided on a less expensive education that more than qualified me for my chosen profession at a price I could afford to pay without taking loans. It is for this reason I can’t look at a protester holding a sign complaining about student loans with any sympathy. If you choose to attend the more expensive school, then you need to pay for your choice. It is a simple concept. I can’t stand the idea of enjoying the benefits of the loan (your years at school) then protesting your responsibility to pay for your choices.
Finally, I have to assume that most of the protesters are unemployed. After all, it is difficult to occupy land 24 hours a day and still hold a job. Shouldn’t these protesters be out looking for work rather than complaining they can’t find any? How does one complain about not being able to find a job if one is not willing to put forth the effort to look?
I understand these are difficult economic times. There are people who have lost their jobs and are actively trying to find work. I know of people who are now working jobs for which they are over qualified because it is better than not working at all. There are people who legitimately can’t find work in the field for which they prepared (and I don’t mean philosophy or music therapy), but the people legitimately looking for work aren’t camping on Boston Common.
Anyway, in thinking about everything I have taken in about the movement, which I will admit is limited since I have to work everyday, I share with you the video below which was shared with me by a friend. It just sums up the prevalent attitude that seems to driving much of the craziness around us.
By the way, the Occupy Boston site lists on the November 3 events calendar from 3:00 to 5:00 in the “Sacred Space Tent” Thai Massage with Cee. Now that is how you change the world.