By now everybody has heard of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement that is spreading across the country, inspiring such offshoots as “Occupy Boston,” “Occupy Charleston,” etc.
According to its various websites, the “occupy movement” is representing 99 percent of Americans, claiming that the other one percent is holding the majority of the money and the power. Not surprisingly, the 400 richest Americans, according to Forbes, have had an “amazing year” while the rest of us have grown poorer. The political process and those who represent it are not offering any comfort, because instead of offering real solutions and actions, the two parties block each other and “Main Street” is paying the price.
Clearly, this movement was long overdue. Having been a teenager during the “student revolution” of the ’60s, which started out as an anti-Vietnam War protest and eventually grew into an anti-establishment movement, I have long been wondering when we are going to hear from the “rest of us,” not just the angry youth of this country.
I’m too old for protest without solutions. So I’m going to start a not-for-profit organization called “NationalDirection.org.”
It will be a website asking everybody to list answers on how we can make America a better place now and for generations to come. The website will list the most popular answers in order of importance. In addition, expert commentary will be posted. If successful, the list will provide a guideline for all leaders of our country that cannot be ignored any longer!
The theory behind this is simple: If we believe that we are collectively smarter than our individual leaders then we need to start setting the agenda. We need to hold the government and companies accountable, measured against our commonly derived standards, which would be summarized on NationalDirection.org.
Individually, we have little power. Collectively, we have the power to vote, and we have the power to choose with our pocketbook as consumers.
I truly believe that America has not seen its best days yet, but it is disconcerting that as a nation we are not taking advantage of the opportunities that are available to us. The “occupy movement” is expressing the frustration many of us have: We can do better, and we deserve better.
So what is stopping this from happening? A political system that is caught in its own web, an economic system that is rewarding short-term gain over long-term success, a legal system that can put virtually anybody at risk, a tax system that rewards the people that don’t need it, a health care system that is inefficient, an education system that focuses on teaching facts instead of connecting the dots, a moral value system that promotes the “I” over the “we,” a society that is enamored with convenience versus gaining a true understanding of the meaning of happiness, a media landscape that is focused on sensationalism versus truly informing us. The list could go on.
America has more talented people, more natural resources and more optimistic drive per capita than any other nation. If we start focusing on making things happen for the benefit of all of us, we can once again be the land of promise.
“And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country,” is the saying now famously associated with John F. Kennedy, although Oliver Wendell Holmes said it eight decades prior.
Maybe the new version should say: “Go ahead and ask what our country can do for us, by setting our own direction, provided that we are willing to contribute our part to make the agenda a reality.”
It seems that this might be a more up-to-date way to think about our world today and at the same time make positive change happen. Protest is a precursor to change, but if we leave change to the existing establishment without setting the agenda and holding them accountable to it, the chances of making a long-lasting impact toward building a better nation are slim.
Join me in providing answers and setting the direction for a better future. One good thought is worth far more than being silent.
Advocate for a better future for the United States of America