October 26, 2011

Why The Occupy Wall Street Movement Is Bound To Fail (Or Not)

I’m a Gen Xer. When I was younger I was a little bit jaded. I thought the idealism of the social movements of the 60’s and 70’s had had it’s day.

I wanted to “fight the power” but I felt helpless.  This was during the first Gulf War, when speaking truth to power simply meant your voice being swallowed up by that power’s wide-open mouth.

But today, I’m feeling inspired. This is a crucial moment in human history. A moment where a new direction is opening up, not just here in America, but around the world. It’s our choice now which way we want to go (and I mean that with a capital “W” all you Tea Partiers out there).

But if we really want to head in a new direction we are going to have to change more than outer conditions; we are going to have to change our minds. It’s our collective self-centeredness and greed that have gotten us into this mess. And it’s not just the Wall Street bankers who are guilty. We all are. Me included.

Turning the mind from self-concern to the concern for others is what will ultimately determine the success of this movement. And to some degree, it’s already there. I hear it from many people. It’s not just about “me, me, me” for a change. It’s about the rights of workers in Panama, Korea and Columbia. It’s about people in Egypt and Tunisia demanding that they be treated as human beings. It’s about the middle-class homeless in Birmingham, Alabama and Colorado Springs, Colorado. It’s about all the over-educated, underemployed, hardworking citizens of the world who are finally realizing they have a voice and that they don’t have to sit silently and helplessly as injustice and unfairness rule the day.

But this movement cannot be just another “us against them” struggle. If this is just another exercise in cultivating the mind of separateness, we will have already lost. This movement must be about caring for others, not the self. When we make caring too much for the self as passe as segregation, then that will be truly amazing.

I think we are on the cusp of this amazing thing. I think maybe we are outgrowing our old ideas about “revolution” and “rebellion”. Those things are simply about the transference of power, a renaming of the same old shit. No, I think today it’s going to be different. I think today we are finally ready to rebel against, not some group or ideology or government, but against our own delusions. I think we are ready for a true rebellion of our hearts and our minds.

At least I hope so…

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