It Starts with Me — A Letter to the Occupy Movement
October 23, 2011
Dear Occupy Movement:
I saw you last weekend in Boulder, and I was mostly saddened by what I experienced. Yes, it is good to see that you are motivated enough to change things that you will spend a spectacular fall day marching on Pearl Street. But you seemed so angry, at times almost hateful. I was glad that none of the “other” 1%, or the people that work at banks and corporations were around, as they seemed particularly detested.
Then I realized that, being Boulder, those people probably were around. Boulder is a wealthy community. All of the big banks have offices here. And many people I know are employed by corporations. I wondered, if those people — our neighbors — really deserved to be the subject of such negativity.
I also imagined the power of your movement if it included some of the “other” 1% and employees of banks and corporations. What if rather than demonizing millions of people you invited them to join you in speaking out against economic injustice? What if rather than being against so many things – and people – you were for something positive?
Both Gandhi and Martin Luther King wrote that successful non violent social movements require internal work among the participants, not just action in the outside world. The internal work is to develop enough wisdom and compassion so that people do not become the subject of protest, anger and violence. The focus is always on the condition, the policy, the underlying cause of the injustice.
Martin Luther King, for example, was not against white people, he was for equality under the law. I seem to remember from the footage of his marches that the very people who benefited from the injustice he was protesting were present. And as a spiritually evolved person, he knew that the people who did not support the movement suffered from an ignorance that they did not choose. They, too, were victims.
So, accordingly, I will join you when I feel it is safe to invite my brothers and sisters from the “other” 1% and from banks and corporations (remember, banks and corporations cannot exist without people). In the mean time, I will occupy myself. By this, I mean that I will work to transform in myself that which might cause me to be insensitive to the suffering of others, and I will dedicate as much time as I can to helping to provide economic opportunity for those that are in the most need.