I Am The 1%
I’m feeling grateful for my exceedingly good luck today. Just how lucky am I? Well, let’s see.
I’m alive right now. The people living on Earth right now comprise approximately 6.5% of humans ever born.
And life right now, as I’m living it, is pretty good. For example, a nutritious, tasty variety of food – including chocolate bars, vegetables, 35 different kinds of grains and legumes, peanut butter, tomato sauce, spices, salt, fruit, noodles – is available to me. I don’t even have to grow it myself, though I could do some of that if I were so inclined – instead I pay money and pick out stuff to stock my cupboards. Hey, I have cupboards! Also, where I am living right now, it is standard practice to outfit each living quarters with a machine that keeps food cold, one that keeps it frozen, and one or two others that heat it up. Right here in my house!
Check this out: if I get thirsty, I have but to turn a handle on any one of these three sinks, and clean, cold water is delivered right into my cup. Wowza! No, seriously, it’s actually pretty amazing. Not only did most of the people who were once living on Earth not have this, but 14% of those now living do not have access to clean water, much less running water indoors. Bonus: there’s a machine in my house that washes clothes. I just put them in there with some soap and close the lid, and then later, my clothes are clean! Hot water comes out of my shower whenever I ask it to, for as long as I want. I poop in water and push a button and it goes away. How many kings and queens through history could say the same?
My living quarters are also equipped with electric lights, secure doors and windows, comfortable furniture, and climate controls. My family sleeps relatively safely and comfortably every night.
Speaking of my family – in keeping with the leading trends of the right now that I’m living in, my husband is not only socially expected and legally bound not to kill or assault me or our children, but is willing to be an equal partner in household tasks and parenting. Woohoo! This is totally amazing, or at least it would be to billions of women who lived before me. They might also be amazed that I could own property, vote, study or work in any number of fields, remain unmarried, wear whatever I please, and move about freely in public.
We’re just getting started here.
I own a car, a machine that can get me and my family anywhere in this city within the hour, and across the continent in a couple days. If I really wanted to, I could buy a seat on a jet plane and fly through the air to anywhere on the planet within a day or two.
I have a mobile phone, a little machine that I carry around with me that I can use to instantly talk to anyone else who has one. I can also use it for electronic messages. If I am lost it will tell me where I am!
I can listen to any type of recorded music wherever I am, quietly so no one else can hear, or loud enough to rattle the windows and bug the neighbors. (Hi, friendly neighbors!)
I know how to read. I have a library card. I can choose from thousands upon thousands of books. Until the day it again becomes possible for me to read a whole book (T-minus 10 years?), I can read about anything I can think of on the Internet in bits and pieces.
Oh yeah, the Internet. I can write what I’m thinking and set it loose in the cloud of information, and other people can read it and tell me what they think. I can converse with strangers all over the globe. We can change each other’s minds, or we can cheer each other up, or we can spout meaningless drivel, or all three at once! We can topple corrupt governments! We can find recipes for salad dressing!
And here’s where I get political, so bail out now if you’d like to simply bask in gratitude for the day.
Though most of those reading this are, like me, living more comfortably than billions of the other humans now on the planet, never mind the trillions who lived in the past – for a select few, even this is not enough. For these few, the 1% of the all-time top 1% – no, even just a fraction of those – this life of unprecedented possibility and resources and leisure and bliss is still not enough, and they actually fight to deny their fellow citizens the peace of mind of affordable healthcare, adequate housing, nutrition programs, student loan reform. They fight to make the rest of us pay, with our paychecks and with our blood, for their bad financial bets and their wars of aggression. They fight not only to keep what they have, but to take more.
This is what I get angry about, and why I support the Occupy movement. Hey, you few at the top, when will you have enough? If living better than kings and queens doesn’t do it for you, what level of dominance will you ever settle for? If nobody stands up now to stop you, will you ever stop?
Standing invitation to that 0.001%: send me an email and grab a seat on a jet. I’ll pick you up at the airport in my car, welcome you into my safe, comfortable home, where you can sit and look out this window at that blue sky, sip a glass of clean water, and breathe a deep, alive breath. I’ll even share my chocolate with you.
How could this not be enough?