Listening to Occupy Wall Street
I’m a former banker, a one percenter, and I’m mad as hell too.
Let’s be clear. This movement is not frustration being expressed, as President Obama, Treasury Secretary Geithner, and now Eric Cantor have suggested. Frustration is passive; anger is active. Martin Luther King was not frustrated. But beyond my anger is real concern for Democracy, for America, for the people of the world, and for the planet upon which we all depend, and for my children’s future. It’s why I do what I do. It’s the inspiration for Capital Institute.
Our freedom to manage our complex challenges, interdependent as they are, depends on democracy. During my trip to Zuccotti Park last week, I learned that OWS is first and foremost about restoring democracy in America. That's a bipartisan ideal I can get behind.
This concern led me to Liberty Park Plaza (bought and renamed Zuccotti Park in 2006) last week to look past the rag-tag and to listen, to show my support and empathy for the peaceful demonstrators, and to learn first-hand what the occupation is about. I wanted to see if I could build a relationship with some of the organizers, which I did. I was right not to trust what one sees in the press. To understand OWS requires time, not sound bites, and listening not shouting, both of which are missing from the modern media.