When we demonstrated for civil rights and against the Vietnam War in the sixties, the demonstrations made a difference. They helped lead to the Civil Rights Act (1964) and ultimately to bring down the presidency of Lyndon Baines Johnson.
When we demonstrated against the invasion of Iraq on February 15, 2003, 8000 people turned out in Santa Fe, the largest demonstration ever in our town. Millions of people around the world simultaneously demonstrated and it was said to have been the largest worldwide demonstration in history. But, nothing happened. It was hardly covered in the press and war policy was neither debated nor changed.
Occupy Wall Street is the first movement since the invasion of Iraq to give voice to ordinary people. While, Occupy Wall Street has issued a very articulate statement, its distributed system of authority is the key message.
The message of Occupy Wall Street is basic and simple: we want a just and equitable society. When I was growing up, members of society talked about and aspired to the common good. Then as now, we have the solutions to our social problems; what we need is the political will.
Buckminster Fuller once said that our final exam as human beings will be whether or not we will take care of everyone. We have the resources to end poverty and hunger. Will we do so? The UN has estimated, for example, that it will cost $195 billion a year to end poverty for the 1/6th of the world’s population affected. By contrast, the US spends $195 billion in less than two months on the military. How long can we live with this kind of inequity?
This is what Occupy Wall Street is about: social justice. There really is enough for everyone and helping others doesn’t mean that we will suffer. What it does mean is that we will have to shift from a domination model of society to a cooperative model. We have to change the way we think.
As parents we certainly know what it means to change the way we think. We have to decide if we are going to be a family in which certain members dominate or if we are going to be a family that cooperates. It’s not easy giving up the illusion that you can control everything if you are a good parent, but it can be liberating.
We need to be liberated as a world society. We need to lead with compassion. When Occupy Wall Street talks about a just and equitable society, what does that mean to you as a parent? It means a lot. A just and equitable society, for example, would be congruent in regards to its messages about breastfeeding. It would support its advocacy for breastfeeding with legal limits on formula advertising, as is the case in societies with the highest breastfeeding rates. A just and equitable society would regulate an advertiser or marketer’s access to your child’s attention, personal space and value system, as is the case in Norway and Sweden. And, finally, in a just and equitable society, parents would receive paid leave for childbirth and parenting, like in all other industrialized countries.
The obstacles to breastfeeding, the onslaught of advertising to children and the lack of financial supports for families are all the result of the dominance of moneyed interests over the needs of the people. Occupy Wall Street is about hearing the voices of these people.
Here’s some things you can do:
Check out these photos of the global demonstrations on October 15th.
Talk to other people about Occupy Wall Street.
Join a demonstration in your area or go to one in NYC or DC
Send blankets, socks, and/or donations to the Wall Street demonstrators.
Choose a Credit Union; they have lower fees and you can become a member.
Identify and help to solve one of your town’s most pressing problems.
Participate in our community thread Occupy Wall Street.
Imagine a just and equitable society.