It was late Saturday night at Zuccotti Park, the heart of the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York. “Why are you here?” I asked one of the Occupiers. “We are here to defend the American people against an occupying global financial oligarchy!”
“I am choosing to no longer participate in what I perceive to be an abusive relationship,” said Occupier Lopi, a 47-year-old who last year went to Haiti and housed one hundred orphans in geodesic domes.
“Our goal to create a massive independent weapon of mass help! We are not intent on destruction. We are intent on confronting and fixing what we all know is a bought government.” another Occupier told me. “This is our shared moment to seize prosperity.”
As each Occupier bounced around like a water molecule, seeking alignment with those around them, the energy at the park was palpable. Watching the scene around me, one thing became clear to me: that a massive wave of energy is rebelling against the American government, unified in its intention to reject a system that refuses to defend 99% of its citizens.
Zuccotti Park in New York is just the beginning. Like a magnet pulling iron out of sand, folks from all walks of life are emerging from their tribes to align in a national wave rejecting our auction-democracy in order to give America the debate it deserves.
We all feel this wave. But how can we harness it together for positive change?
“Your ego wants to go to an outcome.” said spiritual leader Deepak Chopra, who addressed Occupy Wall Street’s General Assembly on Monday night. “But the only thing you can control in a wave of this size is your own intention.”
These are all people who are getting off the hook of hope and exchanging it for the solid ground of courage, resolve and action. It is a group of shared principles and goals, not mechanics and ideas, centered around this: creating value by working together to solve problems with aligned interests for all. The ultimate goal, then, is to confront and resolve misalignment.
As an Occupier named Goldi explained to me, “Our nation is too busy growing debt, poverty, homelessness, wars, oil spills, global temperatures and inflation on everything we need – like food, education and healthcare — to slow down, stop and fix the problem.”
“I’m here because I love my family, and want to protect them from the thief with the gun on the street to the thief with the pen behind the desk!” said Calvin Roy, a Texan who said he was once aligned with the Tea Party, but has been disappointed by their failure to confront the auction of power in our democracy. (In fact not only has the Tea Party failed in this mission. So too has Democratic leadership since 2008.)
The status quo characterizes the occupations as unfocused and disorganized. Yet when I spoke with individuals at Zuccotti Park, participating in group talks and one-on-one debates with them for hours on end, their goals were nothing but crystal clear. They know their government is being purchased at auction, and they intend to stop it, whatever that may take.
Fortunately for all of us, the waves of collective action and aligned goals keep coming. Each one is bigger than the next. It is my intent to participate in this third wave, and use our collective power to harness it and do one thing – finally end the auction of our government.