My original plan was to write something about the Occupy protests mostly because so many articles, tweets, videos and photographs showed up in my reading over the weekend. But then I watched this video that Bruce Mol sent out via Twitter today and I shifted a little.
Occupy is still in my mind but rather than pretend I understand it any better than anyone else does I am going to focus on an aspect that has received little attention so far. Do we really want things to change, or have any realistic sense of what that change will look like and more importantly who precisely is “we”?
Occupy: http://occupyvancouver.com/ has done exactly what happens all too often-the people who are driving it have slotted us all into two opposing camps-according to their statement you are either in the 1% or the 99%, dividing us along an arbitrary financial line. There are close to seven billion humans on earth and the way we relate to or identify with money is far more diverse than this simple concept of 1% vs. 99% suggests.
Is the growing income gap problematic? Focusing on a ‘gap’ is a simplistic way of looking at a complex situation. It isn’t the gap that is the problem.
It is the level of difficulty in having sufficient housing, food, education and health care for everyone that is becoming problematic.
It is significant that advances in technology mean we can extend and improve the well being of people beyond anything imagined when medicine meant that you visited a general practitioner or what is known today as an “alternative” health care provider. It is significant that all of this technology costs large sums of money as does the education and training of the practitioners that know how to use it.
It is significant that advances in technology mean we can share and learn from a far more diverse population than ever imagined when the current education system was devised.
It is significant that in light of all of this wonderful technology our education system does not teach systems thinking early on, indeed that it is rarely taught at all anywhere in the education system.
It is irrelevant if a small proportion of people have large sums of money.
It is relevant that the governments of the world gather many billions of dollars yet constantly claim that there isn’t enough to meet the needs of the constituents the money comes from. It is relevant that these governments can create and manipulate money and thus manipulate the population of their countries (and other countries if we consider the IMF). It is significant that we are so focused on money as the problem when it is our relationship to money that is the problem.
It is relevant that at some point over the last 30 years we began to demand more and more services from government bodies while taking less and less responsibility for enacting change or taking action ourselves.
It is relevant that in wealthy western nations a significant percentage of the population do not exercise their right to vote.
It is significant that rather than collaborate, to work together to build the society we claim to want that instead we put people in a box and then apply a label to that box.
It is significant that we go into defensive mode, protecting what we are familiar with while warding off with angry words a different perspective if it threatens that comfort of familiarity.
It is significant that there are people, many people, enacting change, taking action-they do not hold the 1% responsible, they simply figure out what they can do and off they go.
And there are people who at some point in their life, need you to take action, to figure out what you can contribute and to act, and it is important to know the difference between need and want.
I am intrigued by the people participating in the Occupy protests and the people who are opposed to them and the people who are sitting on the careful side of the political fence. All circling about looking for that opportunity, that advantage, that understanding. And it isn’t as simple as 1% vs. 99%-not even close.