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?

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