I feel the energy of the movement that is now upon us. The media, after weeks of pretending nothing was happening, has finally picked up on the fact that a lot of people have gotten together in a very powerful way. The media eventually picks up on everything. But the media also attaches labels to things, whether they are accurate or not. In this case the media is reporting that we’re angry, and that does seem to be the truth of this Occupy Wall Street and Everything Else movement. We’re expressing our discontent and the media is taking up the cry: We’re angry!
The media machine has been telling us things about how we feel for years. For the past ten years they’ve been telling us that we’re afraid. Acknowledging that fear has led to taking security measures, and taking security precautions has led to more fear. So we became a nervous nation. We wanted something to take care of our anxiety. We looked for things to alleviate the fears. Enter the media again. They tell us not only that we are overweight, depressed, and stressed out but that we need to take drugs to temper the effects of our fears. Enter the drug companies. Now we are a nation of drug takers. There is a drug for every imaginable fear, real or otherwise. In essence we’ve become a lazy nation dependent on synthetic means of achieving security. But the truth is that we’ve been passively accepting what we’ve been fed and we’ve been lapping up the stuff for years now. However, if we listen to what is being said now, not just by the media but by everyone else, we discover that truthfully we are actually very angry.
Anger is a great catalyst. It can wake us up, shake us up, and make us take action, which is what is happening now. But I’m a little worried about where this is taking us and just what it is that we’re really so angry about. The obvious anger, what is driving this movement, is of course true: we are angry at the few who have made the decisions, taken over our country and left the rest of us to grovel in the dust while they enjoy the riches they have reaped. My own fear, however, is that this movement will collapse, that the opportunity to truly become ONE mass movement will fall into blaming and kneejerk retaliation.
In using anger as a catalyst we must question again and again why we are so angry. Are we really, each one of us angry at the 1%? Yes, we are. But where does our personal anger lie? Are we not also angry that we let things get this far? Are we not angry that we have been asleep, drugged and numbed, for the past ten years or longer? Are we angry at ourselves for not speaking out sooner, even though we saw where this nation was heading?
There have been many cries to wake up. One of the most significant was Al Gore’s cry in 2006 when he made his film An Inconvenient Truth. It too was a cry to get angry, to change the world before it was too late. Many of us heeded the cry, changed our ways, became skeptical of what the media was saying, began paying more attention, questioning everything. Many of us have been questioning authority our entire lives. Now a new generation, adept at interconnectedness like no other generation before it—except perhaps their parent’s generation, those of us who grew up in the 1960s and 70s—is taking up the baton that Al Gore handed them a few years ago. They are the next step in the energy of change that has been brewing for years. They are telling us that it’s not bad to be uncomfortable, that it’s not bad to protest, that it’s not a bad thing to say that we disagree and that we want things to be different.
When I study the stories and pictures that are coming out of the Occupy Wall Street movement I see an intelligent generation and nation of people of all ages that understands the truth of where we are. But I also see and hear a lot of blame and anger directed at those who are equally part of this awakening, no more responsible than we each are. For we would not be awakening in anger had we not gotten into the place we now find ourselves in by the choices we’ve all made along the way. I fear that this anger directed at others will keep us from acknowledging our deeper human truth: that we are all the same. We must not separate ourselves in our anger. We must not be afraid of each other. We must shed our labels and become one human movement without labels, borderless and angry in the right way.
And to me, this is the most important next step: to progress in the right way. We are indeed on the verge of progress, but nothing will come of it, on a mass scale, if we don’t question ourselves more deeply. We must face the 1% within that has allowed each one of us to get into the position we are in now. We must use our anger to turn our individual lives around by looking for the pessimist, the terrorist, the blamer, the addict, the narcissist, and the greedy one within. We must constantly ask ourselves what we are personally so angry about. Just as we confront others and demand accountability, we must accept the personal decisions that got us to this point in our own lives. Just as the Occupy movement is challenging us to join the mass energy of change, we must actually change personally, for the whole is no greater than the sum of its parts.
Most of the truths that Al Gore pointed out still remain unattended and unresolved. We must personally face the same truths within ourselves and question our personal motivation to change. What have we personally done to change ourselves over the past ten years?
I do believe that we have made great progress. As a nation, we dared to elect Barack Obama president. We said: here is a man to carry our hope. But we must realize that until we take action on our own behalf all he will be able to do is carry that hope for us, dashed or otherwise. We must not be disappointed in our elected officials, no matter who they are because, as I see it, they carry the conflict and discontent of this entire nation. We have assigned them the roles they play. Now it’s up to us to take it to the next level, just as it’s up to us to take our personal journeys to the next level.
That being said, the social media, the interconnectedness that we now have at our fingertips is absolutely the power of the people. Yes, it might be power that is fueled by anger, but let’s make it power fueled by our universal oneness as well. Our basic human goodness must fuel us now, for ourselves, our nation, and the world.