Friday, October 14, 2011

Occupy Lakeland & Taking Bunker Hill

"What does a bunch of people meeting in a park really do?"

My good friend, Donald Ready, was just becoming aware of what was going on with Occupy Wall Street. If that weren't enough, when I told him about Occupy Lakeland, his first response was "What are they protesting about?"

But he had a question that many people I know have:
What does protesting like this accomplish?
I had a response question.
"What does protesting like this accomplish for whom regarding what over what time period?"
First, people protest when a) values that they have are being threatened, and b) they have come to a point where they feel that any other course of action will be fruitless. (Read, 'The True Believer' by Eric Hoffer or 'The Sociological Imagination' by C. Wright Mills.)

For guys like my friend, Donald, it will be a long time before they feel the effects of what the protesters are shouting about. His resources are provided for. His values are, in his mind, safe and protected. He doesn't feel threatened. As economists would say, there is no incentive for them to do it. In fact, it would be lost time and productivity (hear, loss of more production.)

So, guys like Donald would not think that much would be accomplished by having a bunch of people meet in a park. Now, Donald is a caring guy, so he isn't throwing the "hippy" card down on the protesters and shaming them.

But many people are. I would venture that those who are telling them to "go get a job" either a) carry a reasonable belief that they could get the resources they need (self-employment, job, investments) , or b) they already have the ability to get the resources they need.

I believe that it is a bit narrow-minded to think that the solution for everyone protesting, now in the thousands in every corner of the country, is to just go get a job. Besides, many of them are not even concerned about the job market. There are other topics on their mind.

Second, protesting like this brings solidarity to those who have a cause. This is obvious, but many people never knew how strongly those around them also felt regarding the same or similar topics. The Haitian motto, seen on its flag, translates "Unity Makes Strength." Gathering makes one feel, "Hey, maybe we can change this thing."

Thirdthere is the time-release factor of a protest.

Donald asked, what do they think they will accomplish.
Part of my answer was over what time frame,

If those meeting in Munn Park (Occupy Lakeland's Facebook page has it written that besides general corporate greed it is also protesting Lakeland Electric, the electricity utility here in Lakeland, Florida) were thinking that in showing up this Saturday would cause the walls of the Lakeland Electric building to crumble then they were going to be severely disappointed

But, the symbol of many people gathering to be seen and heard triggers a thought, an idea in those that see and hear. Bob Proctor once asked, "What is the gestation period of a mental seed?" Bob didn't know, and neither do I.

However, just as history will forever remember the series of regimes toppled in the Middle East, we must remember that simply standing up in solidarity is noticed. And, even if not now, if not during the life of those protesting, it will still have an effect.

Finally, bringing it home.

To bring the point home, knowing that Donald was a patriot and believed in the founding of our country, I asked him this question:
"What was it that caused the founding fathers to take up a musket, rush a hill, risk taking a musket ball to the face, AND know that they most likely would never see the full fruit of their efforts before they die?"
After a round of quick discussion, we called it The Bunker Hill moment.
"What is the moment you would take Bunker Hill?"
We took time to answer this for each other.

Taking example from America's founding, the Pilgrims simply removed themselves from the equation (its own form of protest) and set out on their own. Over time, the British Empire came looking for a fight.

I think for me, if something were to get bad enough for me to protest, I would start by simply removing myself from the equation. Move on. Go somewhere else. I can prosper just about anywhere you place me. However, once I had attempted to leave, to let you be you if you let me be me, but force was still being imposed on me, then I would have to take recourse.

So, I think my Bunker Hill moment is when my Free Will has been completely threatened. But that is a moving target, and emotions in the moment of being forced or threatened blur the line on when to react. (See my blog post about being kidnapped in India and The Decision Factor.)

What is YOUR Bunker Hill Moment?

What is the moment you would make a stand?
What value of yours would have to be threatened?
What ideal would have to be at stake?
(Take a second to think about that. Give me your answer in the comments section.)


Grant R. Nieddu

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