Occupy Wall Street - Whats Next A Few Wellness SuggestionsEvery day, Americans are confronted with stories about and scenes of "Occupy Wall Street" protests in New York City and now other cities in this country and around the world. Most Americans support the Occupy Wall Street (henceforth OWS) protesters but some on the Right, such as House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), consider the gatherings "mobs." Personally, I find the overwhelming majority of OWS participants concerned citizens who want to promote fairness.They seek many changes, most on the order of more jobs, greater opportunities and less manipulation by the super rich. You could say they want to level somewhat the playing field.
The first question in assessing this phenomenon is this: Does OWS relate to wellness? If so, how?
What do you think? Do you perceive any connections?
I believe OWS has strong wellness implications. It seems the issues addressed, albeit in uncoordinated, unfocused ways so far, have quality of life consequence for everyone.
Most OWS enthusiasts identify the Republican presidential contenders as friends of the 1 percent-the oligarchs and champions of the affluent and powerful. OWS wants to refocus the national agenda to benefit the other 99 percent a bit more.
I think the OWS phenomenon is a wellness movement. It has the potential to bring awareness and eventually changes that could boost quality of life for tens of millions. It could do this by speeding changes in many aspects of our economic system within and beyond the Wall Street banking focus. Could anyone effectively argue that issues of justice, income distribution, equity, fairness and accountability for the current economic turmoil are irrelevant to living well?
A few of the things I like best about OWS so far are:
* Gatherings are non-violent and, though passionate, most participants seem to be enjoying themselves. Who said social change advocacy had to be grim? Even police have for the most part behaved well.
* Attention has been taken off the single issue that paralyzed the Congress recently of how to cut the deficit. The above noted issues deserve at least as much front and center attention.
* OWS demonstrations in St. Petersburg and around the country look and feel nothing like Tea Party gatherings. I really like that fact. Maybe I just didn't notice but I saw no photos of our president with Hitler mustaches, references to witch doctors or a single racial slur. I certainly did not spot anyone wearing sidearms, brandishing weapons of any kind or warning of Second Amendment remedies for grievances. No buses sponsored by the Koch brothers or other special interest groups arrived loaded with angry retirees with professional signs demanding government off our backs (except, of course, Medicare and Social Security programs, which everyone knows are biblically-based devised by Jesus himself). Nor were there network TV ads (public service announcements) weeks prior to the St. Petersburg event.
* OWS has helped educate the laid-back, non-involved masses. Many are surprised at some of the findings emphasized by protesters, such as the U.S. decline in median family income of 6.7 percent in the last two years, unemployment at 9.1 percent and 46.2 million living in poverty. This is the worse economic crisis in half a century. How come everyone is not occupying Wall Street-or the halls of Congress, for that matter?
* OWS started out and remains a leaderless movement for reform that is inclusive and democratic. This is how earlier social movements that transformed the country began (e.g., the civil rights movement, gay rights movement, women's rights movement, labor movement, peace movement, environmental movement and yuk, even the Tea Party, KKK and Prohibition movements). Maybe in a few years there will be an OYL movement-Occupy Your Life for REAL wellness movement. This will begin when protesters assemble in public squares to support public policies that advance reason/science, exuberance/joy, athleticism/planet-friendly diets and liberty/personal freedoms.
They have reminded all of us that we, too, should be engaged in what Paul Krugman called "serious soul-searching, asking how much of what he or she thought was true actually isn't."
So, where does all this go? What can we hope for the best outcomes of the OWS movement? After reflecting on the complexities and concerns raised by the sign carriers and demonstrators, all fervently committed and earnest about their cause, I came up with a few wellness-friendly ideas.
Elect OWS leaders who will take suggestions for specific goals, objectives and strategies for policies that matter most for the nation-and create specific goals, objectives and strategies. Hopefully, the elected OWS leaders will come up with policy recommendations on such foundation issues as equal opportunity, greater openness and tolerance, rebuilding the infrastructure, public education, health care for all, merciful endings (AKA death with dignity), gun control, separation of church and state, effective restraints on Wall Street and big business and an overhaul of the tax system making it as simple and as progressive as possible.
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