Occupy Wall Street as Political and Social Dharma

Day 31 Occupy Wall Street October 16 2011

via david_shankbone @ flickr

Twenty-five hundred years ago the Buddha occupied the Bodhi tree. He sat there in deep meditation until he awakened and saw reality as it is. Then he got up, moved about, and delivered his monumental four-point message that changed—and continues to shape—history and every Buddhist practitioner’s perception of “reality.”

Two months ago the Occupy Wall Street protesters camped out at Zuccotti Park. They had a rude awakening courtesy of Mayor Bloomberg, the police, and the New York County Supreme Court: It’s okay to protest but you just can’t stay here forever. Occupy Wall Street just had its Bodhi tree moment. The time is ripe to get up, move about, and deliver a laser-like message to the public, the people in office, and the powers that be.

This Economist blog, Democracy In America, put it very succinctly.

“Banding together with a bunch of like-minded citizens to make a big noise is a great way to get noticed, to rally similarly-outraged others to a cause, and to shift the terms of the public debate. OWS has done all that. Now they’ve got to get some sympathetic folks elected to public office, because that’s how this democracy thing works, when it does.”

I believe that the OWS protesters should stand proud, raise their heads, and pat their selves on the back for a job well-done. Then channel the sympathetic public attention and its collective passionate energy to disrupt the political process via the State legislatures, all the while continuing to make their voices heard in a rolling non-violent peaceful protests. It’s high time to Occupy the Courts, the Ballot Box, Washington, Congress and participate in a democratic process which is the very soul of this nation, without being co-opted by any political party or any partisan organization. 

Corruption is the root of all “evil” that has hampered our social and economic democracy. We need a swift and focused surgical strike at the root that rules them all. In my opinion, the top specific policy that Occupy Wall Street ought to focus on moving forward is:

Get money out of politics and move to amend the Constitution to eliminate corporate personhood.

Once the root of the problem is dealt with, we can then shift to a Four-Point Plan to Save America:

1. Tax the rich also.
(e.g. let the Bush-era tax cuts for the rich to expire, or more radically, rollback Reaganomics as kick-ass Economist Ravi Batra recommended.)

2. Get rid of corporate welfare.
(e.g. close corporate tax loopholes and reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act)

3. Downsize the Global War Machine.
(e.g. end the U.S. warmongering and reduce the Pentagon budget by at least 25%)

4. Bring the jobs home.
(e.g. increase the taxes for offshoring and kick off re-shoring initiative)

And when all is said and done the OWS meta-movement will unfold as it will like the law of karma. Protesters will continue to occupy spaces where they are allowed to by the courts. They will continue to march and yell their demands on top of their lungs on behalf of the majority of us who are frustrated with partisan politics and Crony Capitalism that corrupts our government. We’re all bearing witness to a revolution in action. This is what a revolution looks like. It’s messy, chaotic, and full of tensions as opposing forces push and pull, expand and contract, while giving birth to a new social and political cycle. I just hope that the protesters remain non-violent especially in the face of violent treatments by the police and the government that have sworn to protect, serve, and uphold their rights. If Ravi Batra is right—and I believe he is—what we’re seeing is a growing seed of a revolution that will bring the demise of Crony Capitalism and usher in a golden age of economic democracy.

May the central ideas and grievances of OWS continue to flourish around the country and around the world. May we all benefit from the shift in political and public conversations. May we all look back to this time in history with gratitude for the people who put themselves on the line by being *our* collective voices and conscience. And may everything unfold as it will with less suffering as possible.

My dear fellow occupiers, carry on, stay non-violent, take care of yourself and one another, kick ass and be still…. Here’s to the next phase of a revolution on its way to shape our political and social reality.