18 April 2014

One of the people

Martin Doyle

18/01/2012 10:09:00 a.m.


According to Doyle
Somewhere way back when computers, cameras and ID numbers were just making their presence felt in our society, some brave individual stood up and shouted defiantly “I am not a number.”
Somehow that claim never added up.  And in a modern world that is now massively overloaded with human beings [over seven billion at last count] who continue to breed like flies, it would be nice to be a number.  A whole number.  But given the sheer scope of the population crisis, just being a little ol’ one person feels like less than a decimal point.  We’re just a tiny part of a number.  It probably doesn’t pay to dwell on this for too long because you can end up feeling a bit unimportant.  Still, whether you view yourself as a ‘huge human’ or a ‘faceless fly’, it’s sometimes very funny seeing some of the claims made by people in the news.
For example, when they held the big Occupy Wall Street protest in Wall St, New York, the demonstrators (and there seemed to be a lot of them) were chanting “We are the 99 per cent.  We are the 99 per cent.”  By this, they meant the 99 percent of the Earth’s population who exist on only moderate incomes, compared to the ‘one per cent’ who are the filthy fat cats who own just about everything they can get their greedy paws on.  
I found it a bit rich that anyone could claim to represent seven billion.  On the other hand, the interests of the seven billion are very seldom represented in such an effective way.  And we’re all adult enough to realise that even several thousand people can in some way voice the needs of several billion.  It was a pity there weren’t more academics or politicians involved because many good ideas behind the protest were not articulated all that well.  
Which brings me to the Wellington effort.  I think the people who took part made a point and showed a bit of solidarity with the rest of the world.  And us general public at least had a chance to register the fact there was a protest.  But being Wellington, the numbers in the camp were never huge.  Our protestors could never (with straight faces) chant, “We are the 99 per cent.”  Given numbers, it would have been presumptious to even say, “We are the one per cent”.  And speaking of “one”, that makes me think of the funniest thing I heard in the media in recent times.
Someone from the City Council, when asked to estimate numbers in the Occupy encampment said that, despite the number of tents on display in Civic Square, the actual protest population varied between one and three people.  One? [Cue mass shock].  
I think the Council have shown themselves to be tolerant and humane in all this.  And they haven’t sent in the Riot Squad with water cannons.
But given numbers, it’s clearly time to occupy the road home.
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