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The Best Among Us

Chris Hedges on the struggle to Occupy Wall Street.
Chris Hedges: The Best Among Us

Eric Lusion

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There are no excuses left. Either you join the revolt taking place on Wall Street and in the financial districts of other cities across the country or you stand on the wrong side of history. Either you obstruct, in the only form left to us, which is civil disobedience, the plundering by the criminal class on Wall Street and accelerated destruction of the ecosystem that sustains the human species, or become the passive enabler of a monstrous evil. Either you taste, feel and smell the intoxication of freedom and revolt or sink into the miasma of despair and apathy. Either you are a rebel or a slave.

To be declared innocent in a country where the rule of law means nothing, where we have undergone a corporate coup, where the poor and working men and women are reduced to joblessness and hunger, where war, financial speculation and internal surveillance are the only real business of the state, where even habeas corpus no longer exists, where you, as a citizen, are nothing more than a commodity to corporate systems of power, one to be used and discarded, is to be complicit in this radical evil. To stand on the sidelines and say "I am innocent" is to bear the mark of Cain; it is to do nothing to reach out and help the weak, the oppressed and the suffering, to save the planet. To be innocent in times like these is to be a criminal. Ask Tim DeChristopher

Choose. But choose fast. The state and corporate forces are determined to crush this. They are not going to wait for you. They are terrified this will spread. They have their long phalanxes of police on motorcycles, their rows of white paddy wagons, their foot soldiers hunting for you on the streets with pepper spray and orange plastic nets. They have their metal barricades set up on every single street leading into the New York financial district, where the mandarins in Brooks Brothers suits use your money, money they stole from you, to gamble and speculate and gorge themselves while one in four children outside those barricades depend on food stamps to eat. Speculation in the 17th century was a crime. Speculators were hanged. Today they run the state and the financial markets. They disseminate the lies that pollute our airwaves. They know, even better than you, how pervasive the corruption and theft have become, how gamed the system is against you, how corporations have cemented into place a thin oligarchic class and an obsequious cadre of politicians, judges and journalists who live in their little gated Versailles while 6 million Americans are thrown out of their homes, a number soon to rise to 10 million, where a million people a year go bankrupt because they cannot pay their medical bills and 45,000 die from lack of proper care, where real joblessness is spiraling to over 20 percent, where the citizens, including students, spend lives toiling in debt peonage, working dead-end jobs, when they have jobs, a world devoid of hope, a world of masters and serfs.

The only word these corporations know is more. They are disemboweling every last social service program funded by the taxpayers, from education to Social Security, because they want that money themselves. Let the sick die. Let the poor go hungry. Let families be tossed in the street. Let the unemployed rot. Let children in the inner city or rural wastelands learn nothing and live in misery and fear. Let the students finish school with no jobs and no prospects of jobs. Let the prison system, the largest in the industrial world, expand to swallow up all potential dissenters. Let torture continue. Let teachers, police, firefighters, postal employees and social workers join the ranks of the unemployed. Let the roads, bridges, dams, levees, power grids, rail lines, subways, bus services, schools and libraries crumble or close. Let the rising temperatures of the planet, the freak weather patterns, the hurricanes, the droughts, the flooding, the tornadoes, the melting polar ice caps, the poisoned water systems, the polluted air increase until the species dies. 

Who the hell cares? If the stocks of ExxonMobil or the coal industry or Goldman Sachs are high, life is good. Profit. Profit. Profit. That is what they chant behind those metal barricades. They have their fangs deep into your necks. If you do not shake them off very, very soon they will kill you. And they will kill the ecosystem, dooming your children and your children's children. They are too stupid and too blind to see that they will perish with the rest of us. So either you rise up and supplant them, either you dismantle the corporate state, for a world of sanity, a world where we no longer kneel before the absurd idea that the demands of financial markets should govern human behavior, or we are frog-marched toward self-annihilation. 

Those on the streets around Wall Street are the physical embodiment of hope. They know that hope has a cost, that it is not easy or comfortable, that it requires self-sacrifice and discomfort and finally faith. They sleep on concrete every night. Their clothes are soiled. They have eaten more bagels and peanut butter than they ever thought possible. They have tasted fear, been beaten, gone to jail, been blinded by pepper spray, cried, hugged each other, laughed, sung, talked too long in general assemblies, seen their chants drift upward to the office towers above them, wondered if it is worth it, if anyone cares, if they will win. But as long as they remain steadfast they point the way out of the corporate labyrinth. This is what it means to be alive. They are the best among us.

This article originally appeared on truthdig. Chris Hedges has been at the Wall Street Occupation and gave an interview live from Freedom Plaza. Hedges’ latest book is a collection of his essays called The World As It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress. Check out OCCUPY TOGETHER, a hub for all of the events springing up across the country in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street.

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288 comments on the article “The Best Among Us”

Displaying 1 - 10 of 288

Page 1 of 29

Anonymous

I commend you for a beautifully written expose, for articulating the truth and for fighting for your beliefs. You have expressed what every conscious person knows ... they are also trying to poison us not only with polluted air and water, but with pesticide, antibiotic, hormone, preservative-laden food with untested genetically modified ingredients (or they were tested, shown to cause cancer, and pushed through anyways without so much as a label on the package); and with the medical and pharmaceutical industry.

Even Hippocrates said let thy food be thy medicine. I am writing this to help someone who may have been tricked into thinking pills or radiation is the way to go for any ailment. Sickness stems from nutritional deficiency and toxicity, which runs rampant in our polluted and stagnant country. Even cancer can be cured by tons of fresh vegetable juicing and detoxing.

I am not attempting to slander all doctors, but just to hopefully make more people aware who may be conditioned, as I was, to take pills which WILL hurt your liver and cause damage and side effects, instead of eating whole fruits and vegetables (yes, organic is overpriced -- too bad 'organic' used to be just the natural, normal state of things until the industrialized food industry decided to go against nature, deplete our soil and saturate our food with noxious chemicals) ...

this is somewhat off topic of your post but not really .. it is just one more way they are trying to suck every penny from us (through pushing and pushing expensive poison pills and expensive health care that doesnt really cure and does more harm than good) when we should be growing our own food like people did for thousands of years .... just a thought

Anonymous

I commend you for a beautifully written expose, for articulating the truth and for fighting for your beliefs. You have expressed what every conscious person knows ... they are also trying to poison us not only with polluted air and water, but with pesticide, antibiotic, hormone, preservative-laden food with untested genetically modified ingredients (or they were tested, shown to cause cancer, and pushed through anyways without so much as a label on the package); and with the medical and pharmaceutical industry.

Even Hippocrates said let thy food be thy medicine. I am writing this to help someone who may have been tricked into thinking pills or radiation is the way to go for any ailment. Sickness stems from nutritional deficiency and toxicity, which runs rampant in our polluted and stagnant country. Even cancer can be cured by tons of fresh vegetable juicing and detoxing.

I am not attempting to slander all doctors, but just to hopefully make more people aware who may be conditioned, as I was, to take pills which WILL hurt your liver and cause damage and side effects, instead of eating whole fruits and vegetables (yes, organic is overpriced -- too bad 'organic' used to be just the natural, normal state of things until the industrialized food industry decided to go against nature, deplete our soil and saturate our food with noxious chemicals) ...

this is somewhat off topic of your post but not really .. it is just one more way they are trying to suck every penny from us (through pushing and pushing expensive poison pills and expensive health care that doesnt really cure and does more harm than good) when we should be growing our own food like people did for thousands of years .... just a thought

Anonymous

What exactly is stopping you from growing your own food? Or getting a job as a farm laborer? Thousands of illegal immigrants have gotten the boot so that citizens like the ones protesting could have more job opportunities. I don't see anyone taking those opportunities. Those jobs are the American Dream. We are a young and a poor nation and should be proud of that. If we exercise a little patience and humility we might have a chance. The market can be and is manipulated by our own spending everyday. Maybe not as fast as we'd like and that is where the patience comes in. Humility will help us realize we are not invincible and shouldn't expect health insurance to be a solution for the outcome of years of abusing our bodies. I take care of my body the best I can knowing it's my own responsibility to do so in an educated manner. PUBLIC LIBRARIES offer a wealth of knowledge to the public. There is no excuse to be provoking people to take to the streets in protest. It's a recipe for chaos and I wouldn't doubt if WallStreet wasn't somehow endorsing this knowing how FOOLISH it would make anyone look.

Anonymous

What exactly is stopping you from growing your own food? Or getting a job as a farm laborer? Thousands of illegal immigrants have gotten the boot so that citizens like the ones protesting could have more job opportunities. I don't see anyone taking those opportunities. Those jobs are the American Dream. We are a young and a poor nation and should be proud of that. If we exercise a little patience and humility we might have a chance. The market can be and is manipulated by our own spending everyday. Maybe not as fast as we'd like and that is where the patience comes in. Humility will help us realize we are not invincible and shouldn't expect health insurance to be a solution for the outcome of years of abusing our bodies. I take care of my body the best I can knowing it's my own responsibility to do so in an educated manner. PUBLIC LIBRARIES offer a wealth of knowledge to the public. There is no excuse to be provoking people to take to the streets in protest. It's a recipe for chaos and I wouldn't doubt if WallStreet wasn't somehow endorsing this knowing how FOOLISH it would make anyone look.

Anonymous

I have always TAKEN RESPONSIBILITY FOR MYSELF.I have never been bail out. Why did not wall street take RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEMSELVES.Why I'm I paying for them As for getting a job as a farm laborer? I do not want to work 10 hours a day and need food stamp to feed my family and have
no heath care for my family. I can't think of too many people who would like to live in some of the work camp I have seen. When I was young many people in my family work on the farm.but the pay keep getting lower and the work harder as more people were willing to come to this country and work for so little.

Anonymous

I have always TAKEN RESPONSIBILITY FOR MYSELF.I have never been bail out. Why did not wall street take RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEMSELVES.Why I'm I paying for them As for getting a job as a farm laborer? I do not want to work 10 hours a day and need food stamp to feed my family and have
no heath care for my family. I can't think of too many people who would like to live in some of the work camp I have seen. When I was young many people in my family work on the farm.but the pay keep getting lower and the work harder as more people were willing to come to this country and work for so little.

Anonymous

Don't listen to this fool. We are getting fucked in the ass by these plutocrats. GET IN THE STREET! GET IN THE STREET! GET IN THE STREET!

Anonymous

Don't listen to this fool. We are getting fucked in the ass by these plutocrats. GET IN THE STREET! GET IN THE STREET! GET IN THE STREET!

Anonymous

Maybe if you spent more time in public libraries you might--and I stress might--realize that many of the major changes in this country's history, including its founding, started as *gaspgasp* protests. Then again, as heavily as ye olde guvmint is cutting public library budgets, they might not have a copy.

Now I actually agree with the first few sentences of your post. Those points are relevant and logical and personally I am working on being more self-sufficient.

Then you say this: 'We are a young and a poor nation and should be proud of that.' Young we may be in the grand scheme of things (not as much as, say, the former African colonies, E. Timor, S. Sudan, etc., but I understand your point), but to say we're poor is absurd. The PEOPLE may be poor, and yet this nation holds a huge chunk of the world's wealth. Albeit we're trying to give it to China.

Then this: 'Humility will help us realize we are not invincible and shouldn't expect health insurance to be a solution for the outcome of years of abusing our bodies'. Now, I realize this is debatable, but somewhere in the D of I (again, check your local library) it says something about EVERY citizen is entitled to LIFE, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It seems to me that LIFE might be a little easier to gaurantee if ER visits weren't $100 minimum, insurance or no. Since, I do hope you realize, not every medical situation is the result of drug-use, self-multilation, or some other 'abuse'.

Not that I endorse internet arguments, knowing how FOOLISH they make every participant look.

Anonymous

Maybe if you spent more time in public libraries you might--and I stress might--realize that many of the major changes in this country's history, including its founding, started as *gaspgasp* protests. Then again, as heavily as ye olde guvmint is cutting public library budgets, they might not have a copy.

Now I actually agree with the first few sentences of your post. Those points are relevant and logical and personally I am working on being more self-sufficient.

Then you say this: 'We are a young and a poor nation and should be proud of that.' Young we may be in the grand scheme of things (not as much as, say, the former African colonies, E. Timor, S. Sudan, etc., but I understand your point), but to say we're poor is absurd. The PEOPLE may be poor, and yet this nation holds a huge chunk of the world's wealth. Albeit we're trying to give it to China.

Then this: 'Humility will help us realize we are not invincible and shouldn't expect health insurance to be a solution for the outcome of years of abusing our bodies'. Now, I realize this is debatable, but somewhere in the D of I (again, check your local library) it says something about EVERY citizen is entitled to LIFE, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It seems to me that LIFE might be a little easier to gaurantee if ER visits weren't $100 minimum, insurance or no. Since, I do hope you realize, not every medical situation is the result of drug-use, self-multilation, or some other 'abuse'.

Not that I endorse internet arguments, knowing how FOOLISH they make every participant look.

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