I mocked the Occupy Wall Street protesters
not because of their aims but because they were protesting. You might
reasonably conclude from that that I consider their efforts misguided
and pointless. This is not, however, the case, and understanding why
involves explaining just how weird things are in my head.
One of my many core philosophies is one which I suppose is called
Humanism. I believe (among other things) humans must do what humans
do. A big part of self-actualization is simply doing that which you
are compelled to.
From my perspective, I don’t think the protesters are accomplishing as
much towards their goals as they might by, say, starting local
businesses which create jobs in their home towns. On the other hand,
the experience of simply being at OWS may be a turning-point in a
lot of their lives. That experience will stay with them to the end of
their lives, shaping their thoughts, coloring how they see themselves
So what is, from one curmudgeonly perspective, a waste of time, is
also an absolutely vital point in the personal growth of thousands of
From one perspective, they “should” doing something else. From another
perspective which I hold equally valuable, they are exactly where
they should be, doing exactly what it is best for them to be doing.
This sort of thing goes on in my head all the time, and it makes
debating points… interesting. Most of the time I just automatically
pick out one perspective that clashes with that of the person I’m
talking to. What most people (understandably) don’t get is that the
one thing I’m really arguing against all the time is failing to see
the world from many angles at once.
Ah! So you don’t actually think they are wasting time, you just wish
they’d realize that they are really there for themselves.
No, and that’s where it gets really hinky inside this brain box of
mine. I think an essential part of many formative experiences is the
beliefs we bring into them. Go to the mountaintop believing you will
be transformed, and you will come down a new person. Otherwise you
might come down as simply “a person with blisters”. Go to OWS
believing you are part of changing the world, and your whole
perspective about the world and your place in it may be shifted and
So forget what I said a couple paragraphs ago; I don’t even want
everyone to see the world from many angles! Sometimes it is essential
to their humanity to see it from only one. Sometimes it is essential
for me to be only one of the many different philosophers living in
I’m just using OWS as an example; for all I know they turn the tide of
public policy and prove my assertions about the outward utility of
their movement completely wrong. More power to them.
The point I’m making is a more general one, which is just that my head
is a confusing place to be, and I often find my full perspective on
anything impossible to express.
And there are the meta-level perspectives, for instance: the
realization that this is an incredibly fucking pretentious piece of
writing I’m typing out right now. And so on… but I’ll cut it off at