What’s your opinion of the occupy movement and 99%?

Across the U.S., and now elsewhere in the world, a protest movement is rising called Occupy Together.  You can read live updates of the original Occupy Wall St. event, that’s still going.  Also take a look at we are the 99%, a related website where people interested in the Occupy movement are telling their stories.

Do you think these protests are a good thing? Do you agree with their belief that there’s something wrong?

I’m not sure what to think. Until now I haven’t taken the time to educate myself on this movement. I just stopped by a few websites but I’m still unsure what it is they are protesting for and what their ultimate goals are. Pure anarchy won’t solve the 99% problem!

Do I believe there is something wrong with the “system” and society as a whole? YES! But the fundamental nature of human beings perpetuates societies such as these. We are greedy, self-absorbed, ambitious creatures, capable of horrible things in order to further our own agenda.

Can we do anything to change society? Not without fundamentally changing ourselves. Should we all become Buddhist? Should we do a “fight club” and bring down the “establishment”? I don’t know. All I know is that I try to live a life with compassion and kindness. I try to improve my life and the life of those around me, because that is all I can control.

We are the 99 percent. We are getting kicked out of our homes. We are forced to choose between groceries and rent. We are denied quality medical care. We are suffering from environmental pollution. We are working long hours for little pay and no rights, if we’re working at all. We are getting nothing while the other 1 percent is getting everything. We are the 99 percent.

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Who do you know that deseves a peace prize?

The 2011 Nobel peace prize was recently awarded to Tawakkul Karman, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and Leymah Gbowee of Liberia, all leaders in their respective countries for promoting civil rights.

For today’s topic, consider a local peace prize for your workplace, town or your community. Who in your daily world deserves to be recognized for promoting peace and good will? If you can’t think of someone you know today, was there someone from your past who comes to mind?

As I started to think about today’s question, my first thought was that peace is unachievable…we nasty little human beings get in the way! But as I sat starting at the blank page, I began thinking about my religious studies, specifically Buddhism.

In Buddhism, peace, love, compassion and wisdom all start with the self. If we could just bring some of these things into our daily lives, and consider them when we interact with our “community” then true peace is obtainable. It all starts with you and me!

Today I did something I’ve never done before…I paid it forward. The young man in front of me at the lunch line only wanted to buy a packet of chips. He didn’t have enough cash and wanted to use his debit card, but since the transaction was less than $5 the clerk was going to charge him a 25c fee. The chips were only a buck twenty five and I had the cash, so I offered to pay for him. He was humble and gracious in accepting my offer and suggested that he too would “pay it forward” at the next opportunity. He said he worked at a local coffee shop and it would be easy to find someone he could help.

It wasn’t until now (that I’m thinking and writing about peace & Buddhist ideals) that it occurred to me that I did something wonderful for no other reason than it made me happy and it made the people around me happy. That happy feeling spread from me, to the man, to the clerk and to the other people in line. For the small price of $1.25 I helped my “community”.