The One Percent is a 2006 documentary about the growing wealth gap between America’s wealthy elite compared to the overall citizenry. It was created by Jamie Johnson, an heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune, and produced by Jamie Johnson and Nick Kurzon. The film’s title refers to the top one percent of Americans in terms of wealth, who controlled 42.2 percent of total financial wealth in 2004.
The 1% is not a documentary.
It is a group of people.
It is not a phenomenon exclusive to the United States of America.
It is everywhere.
In other countries, possibly, the control of total financial wealth might be even more skewed.
72% controlled by 1% of a country’s population.
I am not part of the 1%
We are, however, made to believe that we should be.
That we should aspire to it.
That success is only attained when we enter that elite community.
We’re made to believe, it isn’t good enough to drive a car which isn’t new.
Or to watch TV on a set that isn’t flat.
Or write on a computer that doesn’t carry the name of a fruit grown in the Langkloof.
We’re made to believe, it isn’t good enough, if we wear clothes that haven’t been labelled.
Or eat food that wasn’t bought in an over priced food store & packaged in packaging that probably cost more than the food itself.
An avocado picked from a tree in the backyard or an egg taken from a nest in a coop at your house or a cabbage taken from your own garden simply isn’t the same.
I don’t think ‘advertising’ or ‘the media’ can be blamed for this.
The root of it is much deeper.
It is sunk into the deepest crevices of our being through centuries of kings & queens, masters & lords and rulers.
And religion has been feeding it.
We’re told abundance will be ours.
If we serve.
And we do.
For we are hungry for the life filled with all the wonderful things & the carefreeness of those who’ve made it into the 1%
Perhaps, if we look at it historically, we’ll discover that most of that 1% come from a long line of people who’ve been in the 1% for generations?
On Facebook a Pastor proclaims, this evening: “At our (event) this year I have a financial plan that will completely change your position economically. We will have ministry in the Holy Spirit + teaching how to move in the gifts of the Spirit. And how to build your congregation. After decades in the ministry I have found a way to be totally free in the realm of finances and i want to teach you as well. Book now.”
They aspire to be in the 1%
And they’ll feed on my aspiration to get there.
I’m not part of the 1%
I do have two bathrooms in my house.
With running water.
We own three televisions.
We’re a family of six and we all have more than two sets of clothes to wear.
We eat more than one meal a day.
And we eat chocolates.
Drink wine & whiskey.
We always have fresh fruit in our home.
We travel often.
We have more than 90% of the world’s population.
But we’re discontent.
And we’re driven by our discontent to work harder, spend more time away from our families.
Driven to tithe.
Driven to invest & insure.
Driven to consume.
Often on credit.
I’ll never be part of the 1%
I am part of the 10% though & I almost missed that.
Consumed by discontent.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably right up there with us.
The thing about discontent is that it comfortably eradicates gratitude.
And in the absence of gratitude, we’ll never find happiness.
Worse still – in the absence of gratitude we’ll be unable to enjoy.
And then we wake-up & our life is over.
I realized today, being part of the 10% affords me an opportunity.
To be more than a consumer.
To be more than a hoarder.
Constantly creating more storage space in which I could store stuff I’ll never use again.
It affords me the opportunity to truly affect the world in which I live.
Squeezed between the 1% and the 90%, we’re like a lever.
Perfectly positioned to create a society which is different.
With enough education & access & ability to lead upwards – getting the 1% to give up on some of that greed & control.
And enough education & access & ability to lead downwards – touching lives, improving them.
But first, I need to stop aspiring to reach that illusive top.
I don’t want the Pastor’s fancy BMW.
I don’t want his Pringle shirts.
I don’t want the abundance that is being promised.
I want a world in which ‘ordinary’ people like me care enough to want to make a difference.
If we do, they will.