Occupy Yourselves: Targeting the Evil, Greedy 100%


The attitudes and actions of the Occupy Wall Street protesters have inspired many others to join the streets in outrage, leaving those of us at home to wonder what the point of it all may be.

And let me assure you: there is indeed a point.

I’ve been struck by the moral arrogance that permeates the crowds — a sort of pretentious, self-absorbed judgmentalism, self-anointed to invade the souls of the rich and expose their moral failings. Such supposed vice, we are told, must be stopped, and it is these brave oracles of materialism and greed who shall stand in its way.

There are, of course, a few problems with this. One is that “ending corporate greed” requires privy knowledge of who is greedy and who is not. We can certainly trust the discernment of the guy smoking pot in the sleeping bag next to the sewer drain, but even if he gets it right, how might we convince Mr. Fat-Cat Richiebottoms to alter his moral outlook?

“Just take his money away,” they’ll say.

Yet if I threw Billy Goodheart’s “Everyone is greedy but me!” sign in the garbage, my hunch is that his ability to produce quality picketing art would only improve. There he’d be, the very next day, with the same attitudes, the same platitudes, and the same distasteful propensity to blame the Man.

Reality alert: You cannot change the world by blaming others, and you cannot change moral behavior by yelling.

With particular precision, David Brooks sums up the issue nicely:

If there is a core theme to the Occupy Wall Street movement, it is that the virtuous 99 percent of society is being cheated by the richest and greediest 1 percent. This is a theme that allows the people in the 99 percent to think very highly of themselves. All their problems are caused by the nefarious elite.

And problems do abound. Yes, there are structural issues with the status quo. Yes, corporatism is out of control (which is not the same as “capitalism,” mind you). Yes, banks and businesses were/are reckless. Yes, people were/are greedy. You woke up on the right planet.

The question is, “What can we do about it?”

In a free society, one thing we can control is our own lives. If we don’t want to be beholden to greedy misers or enslaved to high-interest credit cards, we can say “no.” If we don’t want to be tied to 10 years of student-loan debt that we can’t afford, we can go to a trade school or demonstrate some basic upfront frugality. If we’re looking for our dream job and can’t find it, we can continue to increase our skills and standing, no matter how frustrating the process may be.

If, however, we are trying to “be the change we want to see in the world” by sleeping in a gutter for weeks on end, we should be prepared to receive our prize.

What we need is what John Witherspoon once called a “return to duty” — an introspective moment that leads us to “hearken the rod” rather than disdain it, to return to individual moral uprightness and to reject the seductive idol of material security. We need to reevaluate our responsibilities to God, our families, our communities, and ourselves. This applies to the Goldman Sachs crony just as much as it does to the minimum-wage employee.

Rather than channel our anger and frustration toward a bunch of big shots who may or may not have wronged us, we should look upward, inward, and onward. There is a major value deficit in the world today (there always has been), and we should be constantly looking for ways to sharpen our position toward filling the void, not sit around and cat-call others to do it for us.

As Brooks concludes:

Don’t be fooled by the clichés of protest movements past. The most radical people today are the ones that look the most boring. It’s not about declaring war on some nefarious elite. It’s about changing behavior from top to bottom. Let’s occupy ourselves.

We are all sinners prone to vice. We must all seek our own mercy and redemption. It’s about time we turn the megaphone around and listen.

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  • http://twitter.com/remnantculture/status/123819048428503040 Remnant Culture

    New post on #OWS: Occupy Yourselves: Targeting the Evil, Greedy 100% http://t.co/zFYZ3iaB

  • http://twitter.com/remnantculture/status/123820984284364801 Remnant Culture

    "We must all seek our own mercy and redemption. It’s about time we turn the megaphone around and listen." http://t.co/3Z4mEsl5

  • http://twitter.com/valuesandcap/status/123822395210477569 Values & Capitalism

    RT @remnantculture: New post on #OWS: Occupy Yourselves: Targeting the Evil, Greedy 100% http://t.co/umjWFSeO

  • http://twitter.com/josephsunde/status/123822986863190017 Joseph Sunde

    Trying to “be the change you want to see in the world” by sleeping in a gutter? Be prepared to receive your prize. http://t.co/oe7PH4jm #OWS

  • http://twitter.com/aaronmansfield2/status/123824047778828288 Aaron Mansfield

    Trying to “be the change you want to see in the world” by sleeping in a gutter? Be prepared to receive your prize. http://t.co/oe7PH4jm #OWS

  • http://twitter.com/josephsunde/status/123840744246083584 Joseph Sunde

    @chrishorst My follow-up re: Brooks: http://t.co/oe7PH4jm

  • http://twitter.com/frcdc/status/123868668072427520 FRC

    .@josephsunde on #OWS "You cannot change the world by blaming others, and you cannot change moral behavior by yelling" http://t.co/jga9zy4X

  • http://twitter.com/josephsunde/status/123869210668576769 Joseph Sunde

    RT @FRCdc @josephsunde on #OWS "u can't change the world by blaming others & u can't change moral behavior by yelling" http://t.co/p9ZGAp09

  • http://twitter.com/kozyclutter/status/123870392828968960 Kozy Clutter

    .@josephsunde on #OWS "You cannot change the world by blaming others, and you cannot change moral behavior by yelling" http://t.co/jga9zy4X

  • http://twitter.com/chrisingr/status/124137753641365504 Chris Robertson

    Great Blog Post! RT @RemnantCulture: New post on #OWS: Occupy Yourselves: Targeting the Evil, Greedy 100% http://t.co/nJmk07wc

  • http://twitter.com/josephsunde/status/124147148051849216 Joseph Sunde

    RT @ChrisinGR Great Blog Post! RT @RemnantCulture: New post on #OWS: Occupy Yourselves: Targeting the Evil, Greedy 100% http://t.co/oe7PH4jm

  • http://twitter.com/remnantculture/status/124148028201381888 Remnant Culture

    We must all seek our own mercy and redemption. It’s about time #OWS turns the megaphone around & listens. http://t.co/zFYZ3iaB

  • http://twitter.com/moriahsunde/status/124298785793900546 Moriah Sunde

    I think my hubs said it right: Occupy Yourselves: Targeting the Evil, Greedy 100%: http://t.co/mlCXGWxn I'm prepared to lose followers haha

  • Rachel_witmer

    I LOVE this post.  You totally summed up exactly the way I have been feeling about this whole thing, but I didn’t have the words to express it.  Thank you.

  • http://twitter.com/remnantculture/status/124501044695793664 Remnant Culture

    You cannot change the world by blaming others, and you cannot change moral behavior by yelling. http://t.co/zFYZ3iaB #OWS

  • http://twitter.com/jeffwrightjr/status/124501169023369216 Jeff Wright

    You cannot change the world by blaming others, and you cannot change moral behavior by yelling. http://t.co/zFYZ3iaB #OWS

  • http://twitter.com/valuesandcap/status/124526101182693376 Values & Capitalism

    MT @remnantculture: You cannot change the world by blaming others, and you cannot change moral behavior by yelling. http://t.co/umjWFSeO

  • http://twitter.com/josephsunde/status/124529034624372736 Joseph Sunde

    You cannot change the world by blaming others & you cannot change moral behavior by yelling. My thoughts on #OWS: http://t.co/oe7PH4jm

  • http://twitter.com/maggiejoconnell/status/124529454084136961 Maggie O’Connell

    You cannot change the world by blaming others & you cannot change moral behavior by yelling. My thoughts on #OWS: http://t.co/oe7PH4jm

  • http://twitter.com/cpiedrabuena/status/124529702403702785 Carlos Piedra Buena

    MT @remnantculture: You cannot change the world by blaming others, and you cannot change moral behavior by yelling. http://t.co/umjWFSeO

  • http://twitter.com/josephsunde/status/124540340966395905 Joseph Sunde

    @brettmccracken Great post. Mirrors many of my own thoughts: http://t.co/oe7PH4jm

  • http://twitter.com/missrachelwit/status/124544513002835968 Rachel Witmer

    I think my hubs said it right: Occupy Yourselves: Targeting the Evil, Greedy 100%: http://t.co/mlCXGWxn I'm prepared to lose followers haha

  • http://twitter.com/rjmoeller/status/124553427308134400 RJ Moeller

    Occupy Yourselves: Targeting the Evil, Greedy 100% http://t.co/z9xT5wcK

  • http://twitter.com/chrisingr/status/124585705279205377 Chris Robertson

    RT @RemnantCulture: You cannot change the world by blaming others, & you cannot change moral behavior by yelling. http://t.co/nJmk07wc #OWS

  • Pingback: Returning to Duty: Three Recommendations for Occupy Wall Street « Remnant Culture

  • http://twitter.com/josephsunde/status/129607729173114881 Joseph Sunde

    In case you missed it: Occupy Yourselves: Targeting the Evil, Greedy 100% http://t.co/oe7PH4jm

  • http://twitter.com/susanreynolds/status/129614082465726464 Susan Reynolds

    "I’ve been struck by the moral arrogance that permeates ..crowds — a sort of pretentious, self-absorbed judgmentalism" http://t.co/QqQKHPt9

  • http://twitter.com/susanreynolds/status/129614082465726464 Susan Reynolds

    "I’ve been struck by the moral arrogance that permeates ..crowds — a sort of pretentious, self-absorbed judgmentalism" http://t.co/QqQKHPt9

  • http://twitter.com/susanreynolds/status/129614082465726464 Susan Reynolds

    "I’ve been struck by the moral arrogance that permeates ..crowds — a sort of pretentious, self-absorbed judgmentalism" http://t.co/QqQKHPt9

  • http://twitter.com/susanreynolds/status/129614082465726464 Susan Reynolds

    "I’ve been struck by the moral arrogance that permeates ..crowds — a sort of pretentious, self-absorbed judgmentalism" http://t.co/QqQKHPt9

  • http://twitter.com/roadrun775/status/129614636919169024 J Kaminsky

    "I’ve been struck by the moral arrogance that permeates ..crowds — a sort of pretentious, self-absorbed judgmentalism" http://t.co/QqQKHPt9

  • http://twitter.com/roadrun775/status/129617437707612161 J Kaminsky

    @GovRickPerry MORE OF WHAT THEY ARE REALLY THINKING
    "I’ve been struck by the moral arrogance that permeates ..crowds. http://t.co/d7jfpnWa

  • James

    This is exactly along the lines of what I have been thinking and writing about lately. I ever thought of the phrase “occupy yourself”. 

  • http://twitter.com/josephsunde/status/131007748153425920 Joseph Sunde

    "I’ve been struck by the moral arrogance that permeates ..crowds — a sort of pretentious, self-absorbed judgmentalism" http://t.co/QqQKHPt9

  • http://twitter.com/supertx/status/196589887766544385 Michelle

    #OWS #Occupy Occupy Yourselves: Targeting the Evil, Greedy 100% « Remnant Culture http://t.co/qRCr22Nu

  • http://twitter.com/supertx/status/196590277706776576 Michelle

    You cannot change the world by blaming others & you cannot change moral behavior by yelling. My thoughts on #OWS: http://t.co/oe7PH4jm