occupy your heart

life isn't fair. i've learned very quickly. and that's just a fact, inequality is inevitable. we can only evolve because some things are stronger, faster, and smarter than others. for the most part, everyone finds this disparity as perfectly acceptable. we were taught the rules earlier on and then we play our parts accordingly. capitalism could not exist otherwise. but recently, it's become clear that many people are very unhappy in their position, particularly with the money game.

bad news: american society seems to be developing the wrong kind of inequality. since the 70s, the kind of inequality experienced by most americans has undermined the perceptions of fairness and trust, which in turn leads to a very unsatisfying pursuit to unified happiness.

a little bit about myself: i grew up in a very large, very filipino family. imagine five families living in a two story house in san francisco. you'd think things would be a complicated mess really quickly. but it was actually quite simple. family is of the highest importance in filipino culture, and how important your placement is in that family is the driving force in the system. if you're kicked out of the family system for some grave disobedience (like violence), you're as good as dead.

but this rarely happens. kapwa (family togetherness) means that we share everything, including our own personal issues. if one person has a problem, it's everyone's problem. likewise with gain, we are equally pleased when another member succeeds. to see another succeed is like our own personal gain as well. what drives this charitable response? psychologists state that most southeast asian cultures have a natural dislike of inequality. it's not that personal gain doesn't make us feel good, it's that sharing with others can make us feel even better.

in reality, of course, american culture is not nearly as egalitarian. after all, the top 1 percent of earners aren't exactly lobbying for higher taxes or donating large sums to those on welfare (warren buffet is the exception). so what explains this discrepancy? when we work hard, we believe we deserve our riches. when we ask for a salary raise, we believe it's just compensation for talent and hard work. the higher the entitlement, the lesser the guilt in having more than others. manifest destiny!

so here we are, playing the game of capitalism. the rules seem straightforward, and we all seem to understand the inequality of wealth and not having a problem with it. but the real problem is when the wealthy use their wealth to buy over-representation in the government and then use that over-representation to shore up their position of wealth at the expense of the rest of the population.

or maybe it's the legislators. our elected representatives are the ones responsible for designing an honest system, right? if washington creates tax loopholes, can you blame smart people for using them? either way, some folks decided to get mischievous… the injustice has recently become apparent and now a lot of folks are angry. and i mean angry.

there is fair inequality and there is unfair inequality. right now there is too much unfair inequality.

the whole occupy wall street movement illuminates our innate sense of fairness. it's not that we demand equality, some prefer to work harder than others. It's that we can't stand it when inequality is a result of injustice. when the rich do something to deserve their riches, nobody complains; that's just how you play the game. but when the unequal distribution of wealth isn't fairly explained, when it seems as if the winners are getting rewarded for no reason, those at the bottom are gonna get furious. they doubt the integrity of the system and become more sensitive to perceived inequalities.

america has become such a huge spectacle. we've got the young and the poor acting out because they're not adequately being served by our republic. and now they're being repressed with force and violence like it's some fucking communist revolution (angry teacher speaking). and then there's the mix of middle aged affluent folks who are trying to take this opportunity to move society another step closer to peace and prosperity for all. if people are dissatisfied, do we alienate them and ship them off to mexico? or do we want to acknowledge their grievances and welcome them into the fold of people who are trying to make the world a better place.

i don't know why the world is the way it is. but if one thing is constant, it's that things change. i was once completely immersed in that rat race towards "success", glorifying the exultation of the chase. but like all things, i've changed my mind. rather than simply existing in the world, i've decided to give my life more meaning by being of service to it. against my self-sufficiency, i'm relying more on other people, having faith in the community i identify with and contribute to. i'm striving to represent the sensible and practical human being we're supposed to be.

an economist says, "more for you is less for me" while the lover knows, "more for you is more for me too". living a life according to what you give, rather than what you get, that's the real pursuit to happiness.