Why Occupy Wall Street Matters to You

Why does this global wave of demonstrations (951 cities in 82 countries this weekend) matter to you, right now, today, in your office or home, reading this?

Because it is calling you to ask yourself “Do I want to create a society based on selfishness and materialism or a society based on caring and equality?”

Occupy Wall Street is not about politics – not first.

It is about waking up and asking, “What is fair? What is right? What am I willing to do to take action on what I believe?

We say we are all connected, we are all one, but do we act like it?

Occupy Wall Street is needling you with hope reunited with action.

It is asking you to turn away from apathy and despair.

It is telling you – with stinky chaotic in-your-face wildness – that the world has been for sale to the highest bidder for far too long.

You can watch from afar with detached curiosity.

You can let your politics (right or left) muddy the real questions.

You can let cynicism, busyness or fear keep you from engaging with what matters most to you – whether it’s pollution in your watershed or 300,000 teachers losing their jobs while Bank of America reported record profits for the 7th consecutive quarter.

You can dismiss this chaotic edge of change because it’s not branded and predigested and easy to understand in a sound bite.

I know there is a part of me that wants to. There is a part of me that wants change to be easy, pretty, and done.

But there is a bigger part of me that wants the peace and beauty and safety I experience every day – the golden light outside on the Japanese maple, the dogs curled by my feet, the sweet silence, the walk in the woods, enough good food to eat, the chance to write this to you – for all.

My request to you is simple: engage with this call. Read, talk to friends, grapple, go to the closest occupy movement and see for yourself but please don’t dismiss this.

Because we all want a world based on caring and equality.

Thank you.

Love,

Jen

Recent articles I like about Occupy Wall Street:

Global warming activist Bill McKibben on the link to the environment

Nick Kristof on how income equality hurts the economy and your future

Eve Ensler on what’s really going on

CNN Doug Rushkoff on the truth: we do know what this is all about

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  • Abby

    Yes, Jen, Yes!! I agree. So important not to dismiss this because it’s not so *orderly* Good perspective on this by Hendrik Hertzberg in the Oct. 17 New Yorker: “Occupy Wall Street is a political project, but it is equally a cri de coeur, an exercise in constructive group dynamics, a release from isolation, resignation, and futility. The process, not the platform, is the point.” Thanks for writing about it & speaking out! ~Abby

    • Anonymous

      beautifully said Abby!

  • http://taragentile.com Tara Gentile

    This sentence says it all for me:

    “You can dismiss this chaotic edge of change because it’s not branded and predigested and easy to understand in a sound bite.”

    Is something “less than” because it’s “other?” Nope. What is familiar is brand name news with brand name anchors with brand name sound bites.

    Other is the question, the earnest tone, the felt emotions.

    It’s not comfortable but it is necessary.

    Love this post, Jen.

    • Anonymous

      thanks – it’s my edge, I want things neat and tidy for sure!

  • Julia Kious Zabell

    Oh man.  I wish I could have put my emotions into such an eloquent post, but instead I get to just have the calm recognition of somebody who knows what’s in my heart.  Thank you for putting this down onto “paper.”

    • Anonymous

      it took me 2 hours! THANKS!

  • Aliciamsnavely

    Thank you for this.  Occupy Chapel Hill (NC) started Saturday, and I have never been so honored to call myself part of a movement.

    What it really does is give me hope for the future.  There are a handfull of homeschooled/unschooled/too-young-for school kids around, and a friend of mine and I have been raiding our kid-friendly art stashes [side note to everyone: if you don’t have one, get one.  You never know when it will come in handy.  You may need it for your kids, someone else’s, your inner child.  Or it makes one heck of a cocktail party activity.  Popsicle sticks, glitter, glue, construction paper, etc can all be had for cheap at Dollar stores] and keeping them from being too bored when the grownups are talking.  But these kids are listening and absorbing and learning.

    And making some nifty friendship bracelets at the same time.  :)

    • Anonymous

      love the image of you making art with the kids while protesting/occupying/engaging!

  • http://www.facebook.com/LauraLeeAllen Laura Allen

    My request to you is simple: engage with this call.
    My husband has been unemployed for three years. I’m engaged!
    Thank you, Jen!

    • Anonymous

       Exactly Laura, exactly!

  • Sharon Martinelli

    Your voice just keeps getting better and stronger. This was beautifully written and I will be so pleased to pass it on in the hopes that more people will be called to sit with your wonderful queries. I have been blessed with many gifts in my life, the best of which was the ability to use my intelligence and energy to forward myself. Not for one second do I believe that everyone else has had my same opportunities. And, no matter what I or they do, we have no control anymore over our economy because it is orchestrated by a few very wealthy corporations and policy makers. We are powerless except in how we are with each other on a very personal level. I hope people on each political side can pause long enough to listen to the cry of discontent and look to themselves and ask themselves the essential questions of how we are with our fellow citizens.

    • Anonymous

      thank you Sharon!

    • http://www.brandonsutton.com Brandon Sutton

      Amen, Sharon!  That last sentence really hits it for me.

      Jen, thank you for the outstanding post and for facilitating this discussion. There is a unique opportunity here for massive change that frankly I haven’t seen before in my lifetime. This is an incredible time to be alive. :)

      • Anonymous

        well you are very young :)

  • Djhalge

    The message I see!
    There’s one easy takeaway: You still can’t trust Wall Street. The same players and the same rules that created this mess – largely for their own benefit – are still a part of the game.

    • Anonymous

      yes and yet we don’t want to be cynical ourselves either

  • http://www.letsradiate.com Michelle

    Jen, this is one of the best summaries of the situations that I’ve seen. Thank you. 

    • Anonymous

      that made my day, thanks!!!

  • http://www.janetgoldstein.com/ janet goldstein

    Love your post and your call to “engage with this call.” That’s exactly what I’ve been doing. I’ve had a ton of conversations across generations and social circles in the past several days.  Yes OWS (or OWES) is messy, and without edges, and in the “other” bucket (nod to Tara), but it’s calling us–especially young people–to wake up and burst through the anomie.

    My older daughter (senior in college) recommended this fantastic link to “13 Observations Made by Lemony Snicket While Watching Occupy Wall Street.” There are other writers contributing their names and stories.

    • Anonymous

      thanks friend!! I will go read mr Snicket!

      • Janet Goldstein

        Here’s the Lemony Snicket link which didn’t show up in my comment: http://bit.ly/pbclvs

  • http://www.allislistening.com Jasmine

    I’ve been waiting for this post. wanting to write this post. Thanks so much Jen!

    • Anonymous

      thank you!!!

  • Gill

    I attended #OccupyMelbourne (Australia) on the weekend, amidst the cynicism that our corner of the world is doing-ok-thank-you-very-much-so-why-should-we-be-involved-in-this-movement? Perhaps Australia’s relative economic harmony and robust economy makes us the 1% of the world right now?

    For me that’s exactly why I think it’s important to be involved. As you said, “there is a bigger part of me that wants the peace and beauty and safety I experience every day…for all”. My soul won’t be happy until everyone in the world is adequately fed, housed and loved.

    • Anonymous

      beautiful! to reach out of our relative comfort is so vital and important!

    • http://twitter.com/thehappyturtle thehappyturtle

      “My soul won’t be happy until everyone in the world is adequately fed, housed and loved.” So true in my own heart, so beautifully said.

  • http://twitter.com/DigitalWheelie Ted Kusio

    “…the world has been for sale to the highest bidder for far too long.”

    And we are the world, aren’t we?
    Me, and too many of my talented friends, dammit.

    Thanks Jen.
    Big time thanks. :)

    • Anonymous

      yes that is what it is really about isn’t it? who are we? what are we doing or not doing? Thanks for getting it!

  • Marianne

    Thank you Jen – for stepping into the discomfort of what is messy and in doing so giving us all a way to engage with what this asks of us. You are a blessing and this work is precious (and taxing, so take care of you too, my friend). xx

  • Thorn

    Jen,

    thank you for writing this. It is important to have writings of spirit and heart on this matter. We can all become invested in creating systems based on respect and coming from love.

    I don’t usually link to my blog in other people’s space, but wanted to share my longer thoughts on the conversation – and other’s replies! –  that I wrote last week:

    http://www.thorncoyle.com/2011/10/the-material-is-the-spiritual-occupy/

    Blessings – Thorn>

  • Kristy Lauricella

    Thank you for this, Jennifer. I attended your workshop in MA a few weeks ago and you continue to inspire me with your words. This was an articulate message. And the Eve Ensler article made my day. I posted it on facebook.  I’ve been disappointed by friends who have expressed disappointment in the Occupy protesters.  And this was the perfect response. xoxo

  • Nina Fogelman

    Hi Jennifer, thank for your thoughts.  I unfortunately cannot personally be at any site as I am in a country right now that has no issues of this nature.  I am, however, doing my part for  better and more united world by working closely in authentic sustainable tourism which is a challenge where I am.  It is what I can offer from where I am.  I hope all of our efforts bear fruit and that the fruit is, of course, organic.  Regards from Peru

  • Jen Davidson

    Thank you! You have answered the complaints about what this movement is not, by giving an explanation of what it is and why it matters to everyone.

  • Pamela Belding

    Your post was eloquent and inspiring as always. And it only took you 2 hours to write it! Mine took me all day, but it was from my heart.  You can take a look here, if you like… http://burlapnbeads.com/2011/10/18/occupydetroit-2/

  • http://profiles.google.com/gwynmichael gwyn michael

    Thank you for this eloquent and so very important post Jen! After several months of depression built on hopelessness, I am again invigorated. We can make change even if it means being uncomfortable.

    I am going into Occupy Philly for the day on Sunday. There are also conversation groups springing up in small towns around here. It is exciting and hopeful!

    I am ENGAGED.

    XO

  • http://twitter.com/CharlieGilkey Charlie Gilkey

    I loved this post, Jen.

    The existentialist taught – or rather, reinforced – the idea that not choosing is itself a choice. Choosing to remain uninvolved, apathetic, cynical, or dismissive is a choice that has to be weighed against getting involved and failing.

    The chief question, it seems, is whether we would choose to pay attention and get involved – and perhaps have nothing change, be duped, or get in a rouse for nothing – or to stay uninvolved, thus insuring that the only change that will happen is the change that someone else steers.

    We want the voice – but don’t want to use it. Odd, that.

    Indira Gandhi’s quote sums up a lot for me here:  “People tend to forget their duties but remember their rights.”

    I honor you for using your voice in this very public way. Good on ya.

    • Anonymous

      well said friend, thank you!

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  • http://www.dreamingaloudnet.blogspot.com Lucy @ Dreaming Aloud

    Love this – I have been blogging about it too this week over at Dreaming Aloud – the main question is HOW can we engage with it to greatest effect. http://dreamingaloudnet.blogspot.com/2011/10/are-you-one-of-quiet-fumers.html

  • Anonymous

    I thank you for your passion – you obviously care deeply about our country.

    And I could not disagree with you more. Of course, there are anarchists and nut jobs and yes even communists (gasp) at the Occupy movements and that is not the point at all. To focus on that and make this uprising about that is like getting all your news from Fox (or any of your news for that matter.) Capitalism is the best game in town, yes indeed, and like all systems, it gets high jacked by the powerful – that is what our Ellis Island grandmas were fleeing. In this case, read the New Yorker profile of the Koch brothers or study how lobbying works or look at the non-partisan research into income disparity between the middle class and the rich in the last 30 years. The Occupy Movement is about saying the system is not working. If you think it is, as is, I want to live on your cloud. It is also not about asking politicians to fix anything but asking each of us, as citizens, to look up from our own self-absorbed lives and take action ourselves. Thanks for commenting.

  • testarossa

    Another good perspective, this one by Robert Reich…http://www.businessinsider.com/washington-pre-occupied-2011-11