It bothers me, the OWS movement.

November 18, 2011

An idea occurred to me today, as I read an article about Wall Street and Main Street, and the wide rift between those two. The Wall st. not understanding the main st., the Main st. not understanding the Wall st.

Inside of the Wall street’s world, the rich people’s world, inside of their reality, the super rich bankers are not privileged half-gods, but a hard working people who receive just, and normal in their industry, rewards for their labors. They do not understand why they are being blamed, they do not understand why they are being held responsible.

And the Main street does not understand how the Wall street can possibly not understand. It is this lack of understanding, this split, that is the greatest issue, it occurred to me. It is not how much money who makes or doesn’t make, it is the two hermetically sealed worlds, two different realities that do not touch and do not meet. More than that, they don’t even acknowledge each-other’s existence.

“What would I do?” I asked myself, as I read this piece? What would I do if I had a problem, a big problem with something that Chris does. What would I do to address it? I could sit on our living room rug, and make a sign that expresses my outrage at his actions. I could invite my friends to sit on the rug with me and I would announce, loudly, to the house at large, that I will sit on this rug for as long as it takes for my grievances to be addressed and corrected. I would sit there until I saw the change I wanted to see. I might march up and down the stairs to his office, once or twice a day, for greater effect.

“And what would Chris do in response?” I wondered, as I envisioned this scenario, “what would the first words out of his mouth be?”. I imagined that it would be something along the lines of: “why didn’t you just talk to me about it?”

Why didn’t I just talk to him about it? Why? Why did I stage a protest, no matter how “peaceful”, to force him to my point of view, instead of inviting him to take a look into my reality – in conversation, in dialogue, in partnership? Why?

Is it because I would assume he wouldn’t listen anyway? Or was it because I was angry and wanted to show him, to prove to him, to punish him? I could come up with countless reasons, true, I can justify the protest but, no matter how justified, I don’t see how this protest would lead to strengthening our relationship, to us opening to each-others’ perspectives, to each others’ point of view, to us inventing new ways for us to be together, ways that nourish both of us, that help us both grow, open, expand. No protest could have achieved that result – but a conversation would.

I have been … irked … by the OWS movement for quite some time without being able to articulate why. Something was bothering me there, something I could not put my finger on, and I believe I have found it: there is no conversation between the two worlds, there is no dialogue, there is no partnership.

The issue that splits this country into two uneven parts is the split itself, lack of understanding, lack of awareness of the other side’s reality and, if there is no conversation between those two sides, how can this split be addressed? How can it be healed, how can it be breached?

I thought about it this morning and I imagined a different kind of protest than the protest of two groups, separated by glass walls, police cordons, communicating with each other by writing signs on boards and shouting demands, related to the “other side” by bloggers and reporters. I imagined a protest of people who do not want to be separated anymore, who want to be in relationship, who want to communicate, who want to talk.

I imagined people from the streets, from the occupied squares, from the parks, coming into the board rooms and executive offices, and there talking to those they protest against. Every day, every single day, one person after another would come and talk. Have a conversation, begin a dialogue.

Yes, of course I know that one person would be turned out, another would be escorted out by security, or maybe by police, but the people would keep on coming, one after another, peacefully, gently, asking for no more than a conversation. Asking for some time to tell their story, and to hear the story of the executive they spoke with. No more than that, just a conversation.

What would happen then? Imagine that, if we could sit together, the very rich and the very poor and speak, share, talk, communicate. Like partners do. Imagine that.

What could happen?

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Sophia December 14, 2011 at 8:22 pm

Revealing

Your harsh words are like bitter chocolate
Expressed with anger that tears my heart

Your kind words are like sweet berries
Expressed with laughter that opens my heart

Revealing my Love for chocolate and berries.

This is my agreement with you, Pausha!

Reply

Greg Gehr December 14, 2011 at 8:30 pm

Very interesting read, Pausha. You point out the dysfunctional dynamic at work. If we were just dealing with real people, I think you would be right on the money, (forgive the pun).

I do have one observation though, and that is that the dialogue is not between people, but between people and so called artificial people (ie corporations). I am not nearly as articulate a writer as you are (I really enjoy your writing) but I read something today by Bill Moyers that is also well written and describes the problem, and the history to the problem, that is currently embodied by OWS people vs. the “corporate person.”

http://www.alternet.org/story/153349/moyers:_why_'we_the_people'_must_triumph_over_corporate_power/

I think it helps explain why OWS is sitting and protesting in corporations “living rooms” and I offer it to you for your consideration.

All best

Greg Gehr
@GregGehr

Reply

Pausha Foley December 14, 2011 at 8:59 pm

Greg, it is very interesting that you should bring up this point. I just had this discussion with a friend of mine few days ago.

You say “If we were just dealing with real people…”, and my response is: what is a corporation? What is it, if not a number of real people agreeing to do business certain way? To pursue certain goals?

We say “corporation” like it is an entity, like it is a being that has a life of it’s own, an inhuman alien that controls humans, but is it really? Or is it some hundreds of people working together, organizing a certain way?

Is it possible that the concept of “corporations” came from is a simple mental shortcut? Instead of saying: the thousands of people who funded, built, manage and work for a company called Pepsi, we say “pepsi, the corporation”. It is faster and easier to mash all those people together under one name, but it is dangerous also. Once we call all those people “corporation” we can easily forget them. It is easy to forget that the corporation is just a name, the people are the reality.

The way I see it, there are no “banks”. A bank is a building where humans work – we can talk to those humans, they are human, just like we are. The way I see it, there are no “corporations” – there are companies organized by humans, with human CEOs running them, with human shareholders, with human investors, human partners and human employees. They are all people, they are all humans, just like we are. And we can talk to them.

Of course it would be amazingly naive to think that one conversation with a CEO would result in shifting the policy of the entire company, the entire corporation. Of course I realize that those thousands of people are all organized to follow certain objective, organized within structures, rules, systems. Changing those systems, those paths, those objectives, would be incredibly hard because they affect and organize thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people. In that way it may seem that those systems have taken on a life of their own and that they control humans – but even so, what are those systems but a simple agreement to do business a certain way? And agreement among people?

I believe that if a number of humans got together and made this agreement, a number of humans can get together and agree on something else.

It is all humans, it is all people.

Reply

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