If any of you have spent at little time at the scene of an occupation, chances are that you would know what the phrase “Mic Check” means. The basic gist, for those in the UNknown, is that this phrase is/was often used to gather the attention of a large audience, have them repeat this a few times until everyone is paying attention, and then begin to share your
message (in small installments that are easily repeated and understood by your audience).
As it went, this was an effective way to implement a “human microphone” since bull-horns and other such devices were not allowed at some occupy locations.
So now that you know a brief history behind a familiar phrase used by many occupiers, I’d like to introduce another phrase that could at least get some of us sympathizers thinking more deeply about, regarding the goals and motivations within the movement.
After just a few days that I spent leading up to and culminating in everyone being forcefully evicted from the City Hall lawn by LAPD, it became clear to me that there seemed to be particular “bad guys” (i.e. specific institutions and corporations) that many agreed were the worst of the worst, such as Wall Street and Goldman-Sachs.
Now I’m certainly not going to be defending their business practices, but it appeared to me that, at least among a noteworthy percentage of occupiers, a certain level of greed among individuals and companies was acceptable, just as long as they “weren’t as bad as Goldman-Sachs” or some other corporate/financial monstrosity like them.
So I asked myself, along with a few folks that I had befriended during my stay, “Isn’t challenging greed what ultimately brought us out here on these streets?”
And if that was the case, why were we busy making exceptions (by implication at least) for the greed happening among the rest of us who had not yet found ourselves at the helm of such a corporation? It was clear that many of my fellow occupiers were certainly open to eventually heading such corporations, based on the assumption that they would do things much differently if THEY were in control.
But isn’t that exactly the same rhetoric we’ve been hearing from so many bright-eyed corporate idealists for so many years? How many people enter into the corporate world with a vision for wastefully raping the earth’s resources, wage-enslaving 3rd world workers in sweat shops to manufacture products, and eventually paying politicians to enact legislation that creates more problems for the earth and its people while increasing personal bank account figures?
From what I can tell, that’s just the nature of the (corporate) beast, with EXTREMELY rare exceptions. No amount of “green-washing” and eco-investments have fundamentally changed things. And if we assume that WE will be the exception, maybe our idealism was really just naivete in disguise…
So how about a “price check”?
At what point can your idealism be purchased? Or, as Jesus asked rhetorically, “What does it profit a person to gain the whole world and lose their soul?”
If we’re not perpetually wrestling with these kinds of significant questions within ourselves, especially as we age and start enjoying some benefits of so -called “success”, chances are that our youthful idealism has already been paid for in full.