Occupy movement is no Tea Party
by Jesse Loren
The epiphany of the night started somewhere around the second can of paint. My son came home to work off the cost of a parking ticket by doing chores around the house. My son is twenty, in college, and very focused on ethnobotany.
He began: One theory is that we descended from a primate ancestor. Not a monkey, that’s just stupid. Landscape was changing. We developed a diet based on variety, not just one food. Did you know the butterfly exists on Milkweed? Milkweed.
No milkweed, and there is a massive die off.
Humans adapted. We climbed out of the trees and foraged.
Me: Are you hungry?
He continued, undaunted.
We could have foraged, and one theory is that we ate a diet of fish, rich in fats, which increased myelination in the brain and increased visual acuity. Another theory is that we might not have just foraged, but that we hunted by chasing prey. Imagine what those big brachiating arms could do with a stone. We could act upon an animal in the distance by hurling objects.
Me: Like spears?
Him: Of course, but stones, projectiles, thinking ahead, being able to plan, cause and effect…
Me: I imagine a human-orangutan with big arms raising a fist.
Him: Yes, and, well, you know, animals would have lifted dung to eat the grubs underneath. Humans would have to forage. They would eat grubs and mushrooms. We would have to be smart enough to eat the things that didn’t kill us. We developed language, but mainly we became highly adaptable. We were probably still pretty stupid, but our adaptability led to our success…
Me: I think the lasagna is done.
Him: Can you make it to go? I really have to go do homework.
Him: You know, mom, if a baby was snatched from thousands of years ago and raised in an average household today, it would adapt. It would be stupid in some ways and really excel in others. Like us…
After he left, I began to do what I mainly do at night; read depressing news about Wall Street, the economy, and emails from parents about why Johnny didn’t do his homework. One article cited the police brutality and illegal arrests from the Republican National Convention of 2008, another article was about the distressed woman who murdered a woman and cut out her baby with an Exacto knife. Another article was about the ninety-nine percent. Debra De Angelo’s article about the ninety-nine percent triggered an epiphany.
My son may have been talking about pre-history, but it might as well have been 2011. We evolved, and right now in America the one percent evolved strategies to dominate the resources, gain power, and keep the ninety-nine percent from being able to thrive.
We can still be stupid in some ways by letting them.
We can adapt to having less, working more, and cowering in a mud hut somewhere like much of the world, or we can make a stand.
The landscape is changing. The middle-class has been squeezed out of living a comfortable life and being able to provide that for their children.
If we learn anything from history, even primitive history, it’s that when we are motivated by a lack of resources we will do what it takes to survive, thrive, and make sure we are safe.
I think the metaphoric moment of coming out of the trees and foraging is happening in our society, and it is no tea party.