Fighting for Change with Hearts Wide Open

The environmental philosopher Kathleen Dean Moore looks out at the Occupied social landscape and sees “The Big One”–a movement that will bring all the disparate struggles of our society together on common ground, and effect deep, lasting, structural changes.

“The lines that connect climate change to jobs to the environment to education to health to justice are strong and undeniable,” she says. “The time has passed for an environmental movement. The time has passed for a climate change movement. The time has passed for isolated grassroots movements. We stand on ground that trembles with tectonic movement. Along the straining fault lines of our civilization, we feel the forces building for justice, sanity, and lasting ecological and cultural thriving.”

She’s certainly right that isolated movements are not going to change the world. That’s what’s been so great about the Occupy movements–they’ve been widespread and inclusive,a big big tent spread out over a lot of ground, coast to coast.

As Moore says, the moral ground of the Occupy movements is quite simple and clear: “it’s wrong to wreck the world.”

That’s something I knew instinctively as a child, as most children do.  Part of the great tragedy of our society has been the way we slowly deaden and numb the compassionate, empathic instinct of our children, teaching them to ignore pain and injustice, to just keep walking and mind their own business.

I know that’s what I was taught as a privileged young American growing up in a deeply unequal, unjust and exploitative society.  I know now that it was wrong.

And thanks to Occupy Wall Street and the other Occupy movements, I am beginning to know what to do about it.

We need to stop going about our business as usual, and relearn how to see and feel suffering and inequity.

We need to think outside the box of our normalized capitalist assumptions, making well-being rather than profit the goal of human effort.

We need to make protecting our planetary home our highest priority, because without a healthy environment, we will never build a healthy society, and things are so far gone that bringing back ecological balance will take everything we’ve got.

One of the reasons that revolutions are almost always carried out by the young is because they are closer to the instinctual compassion of their childhoods.

If only the stuffed shirts in Congress and in corporate office buildings all over America could remember what it was like to live with their hearts wide open, we might start to see the great boulder of social change really start to pick up steam.

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