In the wake of the "We Are The 99%" movement the past few weeks, I had been thinking about this a lot anyways. I'd been mulling over the sob-stories on the wearethe99percent, some of which are tragic, but some of which I felt were a bit whiny, and realized that, as much as I agree that the financial system in the United States is an abomination and that the debt-culture is positively unsustainable, and many of the people posting are in similar situations to my own, I have a fundamental problem with self-pity. Perhaps it is more that I just have a bit of perspective. I've always been very aware of global politics and of how fortunate I am. Then wearethe99percent posted this:
This is something I actively think about every single day. I have thought about this on a daily basis for over a decade - ever since my mother and my sister both died and, for a while, I fell into a trap pitying myself because my life was “so hard”. Then one day, a voice in the back of my head reminded me of something: I am part of the luckiest 1%.
In a way, it’s a kind of prayer for me. I know how lucky I am and I refuse to let myself forget it in the midst of the frustrating minutiae of everyday life. Sometimes it has been what keeps me going, knowing how much worse it could be.
I AM THE 1%:
I live in a safe, developed social democracy where I have never had to fight for my right to vote in an election (even if I hate my current conservative Prime Minister’s political agenda);
I am relatively healthy (and I have two medical plans and government-subsidized health-care when I’m not);
I am a semester and a half from graduating from a good university (even if I do have 15K in debt and it’s taken me seven years to graduate because I have to work in order to afford tuition);
I have a full-time job and a part-time job that both pay above minimum-wage (even minimum wage is 8$/hr and a “living wage” in Vancouver is 18$/hr, neither of my jobs is in ANY way glamourous, and having two jobs exhausts me some weeks);
I have an affordable apartment in a decent neighbourhood steps away from public transit and 8 minutes from my university campus and my job (even if it is only really ‘affordable’ because I rent out two of the three bedrooms);
I have an amazing family who live modestly (like I do), share my values, and who have helped me out more times than I can count when I couldn’t figure out how to balance my life properly;
I do not live my life in fear of being shot at, mugged, robbed, gang-raped, or otherwise violated by LRA militia-members, gangs, government-sponsored Janjawid or any violent legitimate government;
I am a Canadian citizen;
I am literate;
I had a free primary and secondary education;
I can afford rent, hydro, groceries, my phone bill, AND tuition and books all in the same month because I work my ass off, I budget my money strictly, I only have one credit card (with a 1000$ limit), and I refuse to accrue more debt than I already have;
I have three savings accounts;
I am a 28 year-old woman and I have never been robbed, raped, shot (or shot at), or beaten.
All of this makes me part of a very lucky 1%.
STOP THINKING ABOUT THE PROBLEM (EVEN IF IT IS A BIG ONE) AND START THINKING ABOUT THE SOLUTION.
Be productive. Be radical. Be the change you wish to see in the world.