Proyecto Visión 21

What else can we occupy besides Wall Street?

Everybody seems to be talking about Occupy Wall Street and similar movements around the country. Some people like what the “occupiers” are doing, while others characterize them in less than friendly terms.

Whatever the case, it is clear people are rejecting a extreme version of capitalism where it is not only impossible to achieve the American dream, but it is becoming more and more difficult to achieve even the Human dream.

Leaving aside the complex socio-political context of this movement -that reminds me of the indignados (exasperated) in Spain and the piqueteros (blockaders) in Argentina-, the question we should ask is this, What other places we should occupy besides Wall Street? There are at least three places we should occupy as soon as possible.

First, we need to occupy our own minds and brains, and we need to do it in a creative, inspiring, and challenging way. We live at a time when we have access to such a large quantity and quality of information that nobody before our time could have anticipated. However, at the same time, we seldom think for ourselves.

At my college classes, I have detected an alarming trend: for their papers, a growing number of students use TV programs or Internet sites of doubtful reputation as their only source. Of course, it is easier to repeat what others already thought than to develop our own critical thinking skills.

We need to occupy our minds with ideas and disciplines that perhaps we are not used to engage, including philosophy, poetry, literature, history and even silent meditation.

Many years ago, one of my professors frequently said that, “He who thinks for himself is a dangerous person.” He was right. The truth is change does not happen if you are just seated there in front of the TV set. And it will seldom happen just because you send short messages in your favorite social network.

Second, we need to occupy our hearts. I know very well than many in America, including myself, are suffering from “charity fatigue.” With so many disasters here and all over the world, we receive so many requests from donations that we are almost tired. However, this is the time to open our hearts to see what others are experiencing.
For example, in Colorado (where I live), 900,000 people, or almost 20 percent of the population, suffer every day of hunger or food insecurity, according to Hunger Free Colorado. However, only 3 percent of Coloradoans in a stable economic situation think hunger is a problem in this state. This is not the time to see reality through statistics, but through our open hearts.

Finally, we need to use our imagination. In 1912, Dr. June A. Carroll, from Indio, California, was one of the first female physicians to drive a car to visit her patients. There was a section of the highway where it was difficult to see the road. So, Carroll, without authorization, painted a white line in the middle. The rest is history.

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