You've heard it on radio. You've seen it on TV. You've read about it in the newspapers. That ongoing discussion about the 99% vs. the 1%. Ever wonder who the 1% is?
The Washington Post did a story a few days ago that reported that the 1% is comprised of anyone making $347,000.00 a year or more. I think The Post got it wrong.
I think that being in the 1% is more of a state of mind than a state of possessions. So with that said, whom do I see as comprising the 1% if we base it on where someone's head is? I think that might be simple to answer.
First, they suffer from what I call "MAS". Never heard of MAS? I'm not surprised. I just coined it, but I think it may start showing up in the DSM-IVR. MAS is Marie Antoinette Syndrome. Marie was the Queen of France who is alleged to have said, "Let them eat cake" when the 99% of that time was storming the front door of the house complaining because they didn't have any bread. So people suffering from MAS have gotten theirs and they don't give a damn if others get theirs or not.
Second. They love things and use people. Sounds like a cliché, I know. But in just about every cliché there's some truth. I don't think this one needs much explanation -- we've all seen people with this behavior.
Third. They're vain in their appearance. They've got to have the latest fashion [almost] regardless of the cost. They spend extravagant money making sure they've got the latest clothes on to make them look good. While 14,000,000 of the country's population are unemployed, these people are worrying whether their Gucci bags match their shoes.
Fourth. They place an undue emphasis on their job. They've become shallow as human beings and their only sense of value or self-worth comes from their title and position. While their employment status may make them appear successful and happy on the outside, their insides are eaten up with stress, strife and soul-searching.
Fifth. They're happy, but contentment eludes them. Happiness is something based on external stimuli. People are happy because of the possessions they own, their house, their big-screen-flat-screen television, the type car they drive, the girlfriend/boyfriend they like to use as "arm candy." They're happy -- but not content. Contentment is an inside job. Being content is being comfortable within our own skin regardless of what people, places and things we've surrounded ourselves with.
Sixth and probably the most important is empathy. While many people are too busy with the daily struggles of just putting a roof over their head and food on the table to know what's going on, there are many -- even within the 1% -- that empathize. Without the ability to empathize -- put yourself in someone's else's shoes -- the movement is bound to falter and fail.
I'm sure you can add to this list and I welcome any and all suggestions. In the meantime though, remember that I think there are some people who qualify -- financially -- for the 1%, yet have a mindset that places them well within the 99%.
Jerry Nelson is a nationally recognized photojournalist. His work has appeared in many national, regional and local publications including CNN, USAToday, Upsurge, Earthwalkers and Associated Content. Nelson travels the country seeking out the people, places and things that make America unique and great. Nelson currently is in Washington D.C. pointing his camera at OccupyDC and freelancing for The Washington Times the second largest paper in the nation's capital.
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