Oct. 30, 2012 — A little over a year ago, the Occupy Wall Street movement broke out on the scene and, while we don’t hear as much about it these days, protests continue to crop up world-wide.
Last month one of the Internet groups I subscribe to asked us to share our thoughts on the Occupy movement and to take a survey with three options to choose from:
1. I’m all for it and even participated in some of the events.
2. It’s a nice idea, but I don’t think the protests do anything
3. I don’t support it at all, and disagree with the ideas.
None of these choices really reflect how I feel, but I was somewhat surprised to realize the one that came closest was number three.
Of course, I do support the Occupy Wall Street movement in the sense I believe in freedom of speech. I figure everyone has the right to voice his or her opinions and to protest, provided it’s not violent. But so often demonstrations do turn violent, with the protestors blaming the police, and the police blaming the protestors.
And that’s why I can’t get behind the Occupy movement, or a lot of other political movements, for that matter.
As long as we continue with this dualistic way of thinking: us vs. them (even if “them” is only 1 percent), right vs. wrong, good vs. bad, we’re going to keep going in circles and ending up in the same place.
We don’t live in a world of black and white, but of complexities and nuances, shades and textures. Some things are right, some are clearly wrong, but most balance somewhere between the two. Too often ideologies, regardless of whether they come from radical liberals or dogged conservatives, become rigid and myopic.
I was in India last year when the Occupy Wall Street movement broke out over here, and so had the advantage of watching it unfold in another culture, one that is very different from our own. I tried to look at it from the perspective of my recent friends, which was something along the lines of, “Isn’t it interesting?”
But what’s your opinion I would ask. They would think a bit, and say something like, “Yes, yes, the protestors make some very good points, but the other side has good points too, and the rich have always been a very small percentage. What is new? They need to get together to talk and try to reach some compromise.”
One of these very friends once told me he liked George Bush and Barrack Obama in the same breath, which, like the protestors and the opposition actually talking, isn’t something we’re likely to hear over here any time soon.
As we come up on election time, this duality is becoming even more divisive.
One of my guilty pleasures is Facebook, mostly because it gives me a way to keep up with my sons and step-kids, although recently I haven’t been on it so much. Some of the posts are just too ugly. I even had to block one person when I woke up one morning and found he had left 37 messages on my wall, spouting his own particular viewpoint. It wasn’t his viewpoint I minded, but I’d like to hear what other friends are up to as well.
But, then again, sometimes I don’t want to know. One day one of my liberal friends might be ranting about someone posting a conservative viewpoint on her timeline. The next day a conservative friend will be bewailing the same about some liberal posting.
Both of them will probably react by “unfriending” the culprit so soon they will be surrounded only by people who think like they do, share their viewpoints and won’t do things like challenge their thinking or engage them in debate.
Certainly, there are times to take a stand for our beliefs, but I think they should be carefully thought out, not reactive. When we try to impose our will or ideas on others, or when we blame others for our woes, we become brittle like glass and are unable to see any side but our own.
That’s how wars start, I guess.
Mahatma Ghandi said, “Peace is the road,” and I would love to see peace in the world, but I don’t think peace is some tangible thing we can attain, and then we have it there in our hand. Like life itself, it’s fluid and always changing. It’s a road we travel on, not a goal we reach.
I’ve even heard people talk about fighting for peace, which has always struck me as an oxymoron if ever I heard one.
I truly believe the only way we will have peace is if we find it in our own hearts first. And maybe when we allow peace to be a road, as Gandhi said, something will unfold that’s gentler and able to bend.
Maybe we’ll learn to think beyond dualities and find solutions to our problems we haven’t even considered.
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