Wednesday, October 12, 2011

We are the 100 percent

I'm bemused by my reaction to Occupy Wall Street and its offshoots. Based on my history and my red-collar tendencies, I should be thrilled. Excited. Giddy even.

But ... I'm not. I'm pleased that the issues of corporate greed and wealth inequity are being brought to the stage. It's about time. I'm pleased that there's some heft, some weight on the side of those who are generally overlooked. I've ranted about these topics for years.

And yet ...

Somewhere along the line, I became less interested in who's right and who's wrong, who gets the larger slice and who feels cheated. It's not so important that the result be what I envision, but it is hugely important to me that we put aside the idea that things must be either/or -- right/wrong, winners/losers, moral/corrupt -- and that we enter into conversations without expectations of what we'll hear. Then radical change is possible. Then we can let go of the structures we cling to for support and design something new.

From the outside, it feels like Occupy Wall Street is still dedicated to a binary view: us/them. Rich/not rich. Undeserving/deserving. You have too much/what about me? The 99 percent against the 1 percent.

I surprise myself by not wanting to wade into this water. I don't want to yell slogans about how you are not me. I don't want that you share with me -- I want all people to have enough. And I want all people to recognize that enough is OK, is ... well ... enough.

Now I get that this world view is unrealistic and utopian. It not only requires a change in the political and corporate structures, it requires a shift in the basic view of the people who live in society. Instead of measuring people's worth by their titles or incomes or bank balances, we'd have to recognize that all people have equal value and are all deserve our respect and our care.

Talk about a revolution.

I believe, though, that this is possible. I believe it can be achieved, regardless of conditions and inclusive of all circumstances.

It doesn't start with toppling the government, bringing down the stock exchange. It starts where you are, in your life. It starts with treating the people in your life as though they all matter, they all have value, they all deserve respect. With knowing that they are no different from you.

Starting on that ground, there won't be changes before winter or before the 2012 election. But there will be change.

It's all about interdependence. (Bring it on back to Buddha here.) As Elizabeth Warren said in her now-famous quote, no one got rich on their own without workers educated in school systems, and roads, and so on. But no one's living without some benefit from corporations: cell phones, clothes, food brought into cities, electricity, and on. We can't cut off any limb without affecting the whole. But no limb contains the whole answer.

Occupy your life. Fully. Be part of the 100 percent. And see where it gets us.

For a view of worldwide interdependence, go here

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