Achievers. The one percent. Winners. Those who are so adamant about not raising taxes on corporations the wealthiest in the nation would have us believe that there is some inherent quality, something unique and sacrosanct in this supposed talent. Set aside the responsibility to the nation fostering a nurturing environment for business(political and social stability, laws, courts, infrastructure, an educated and healthy populace) argument. Talents are for the arts, or sports, for positive intellect and in healthy and uplifting relationships.
“No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe;” wrote John Donne in meditations XVII, in 1624, “every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.”
Achiever is in itself an insult hurled at the rest of us by the selfish and greedy. It implies that the jobs we go to daily, the place we’ve arrived at in life is not an achievement. It screams that raising children, running a home, going to school, struggling with poverty, prevailing through an illness is somehow a lesser achievement. It presumes one person’s experience is greater than another’s. It pits one person’s struggle against another’s, which is a fool’s game.
The way it is used becomes an assertion of power and right and privilege. Their achievement is presumed to have value above all others. It is an assumption of rule and of a ruling class, which is antithetical to the declaration of Independence and of the Constitution.
It also betrays a lie the so-called achievers pretend to themselves. It is the ultimate lie because it ignores the very thing Donne wrote about. Life is impossible alone. A soul alone writing a novel relies upon the history making the computer usable, upon the society nurturing freedom of thought, of the luxury of not having to forage through the day for food, shelter and sustenance, and even of the craftsman who constructed the desk and chair upon which that novelist writes.
A month ago I wrote a play. I am proud of that play, but as such it is little more than a semi-interesting collection of two dimension words upon a page. In the coming weeks a passionate and talented cast will bring those words to life, moving them around in three-dimensional space, adding inflection and history and textures I would never have imagined. We will perform on a radio station, the play expanded and re-envisioned by a producer who will add sound effects to create a new and as yet unrealized world. We will perform upon a stage built by dreamers who wished for a space that actors might create as yet unimagined works and as yet unwritten words. Those stages are maintained by electricians, lighting experts and others who make each performance possible.
Sadly, what has happened in America is that the one percent has all but convinced us that only the writer matters, and that all the rest should bow before them. The Occupy movement asserts a different reality, one consistent with the constitution, in which all citizens are imbued with a god-given dignity and that all of us have a responsibility to maintaining the greatest measure of human dignity that can be maintained. The limit placed on that dignity is a measure of the cynicism inherent in a heart.
No man is indeed an island, except in his own heart, and upon that island is loneliness and nothing more. There is an old pop song that says one is the loneliest number. If there is salvation from that loneliness, it must be among the 99%.