For the Occupy protesters and everyone else unhappy with the current economy and corporate power, there are things we can do to influence change.
Thousands of people are choosing to take to the streets as one form of influence. The demonstrations have gotten the media and the country’s attention. That attention will influence people, and maybe even lawmakers.
I tend to be sympathetic to the Occupy movement’s frustration and some of its message. I’m glad they’re out there, and am thankful they’re shining a spotlight on corporate greed and our corporatist government.
Franklin D. Roosevelt warned about the position we’re getting dangerously close to now back in 1938:
The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism—ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.
But I also know that corporate/governmental greed and power aren’t the only reasons why we find ourselves in this situation today. How we live, what we buy, who we vote for and who we work for collectively create the environment where private power can thrive. Our money and time feed them. Our apathy on voting day lets other people decide for us.
Some people choose to blame “the system,” and they’re right: the system is broken. The old game is no longer fair.
But we can do more than protest or complain. If our actions create the environment where private power thrives, we can cut off the oxygen. We can speak out and organize change. We can move our money elsewhere, kill our televisions, tell our government what we think and vote always.
We can examine every aspect of our lives and realize what our money is supporting. Think about every dollar you spend. Is it going to WalMart, or your neighborhood store owner? Are you buying a Budweiser or a microbrew? Are you depositing at Bank of America or a credit union?
Most importantly, are you driving to work at a Fortune 500 company, or working for yourself?
What if those Fortune 500 companies didn’t have so many smart people to leverage, because they chose to work for themselves instead? Where would the power in our economy lie with so many small businesses?
For everyone struggling in this economy, here’s the good news: during the worst economic recession in over 70 years we also find ourselves at the best time in history to start a small business.
The jobs have dried up, and they may never come back. We’re in a forever recession, and you can cling to the old ways, or be optimistic about new opportunities:
When everyone has a laptop and connection to the world, then everyone owns a factory. Instead of coming together physically, we have the ability to come together virtually, to earn attention, to connect labor and resources, to deliver value. -Seth Godin, The Forever Recession (and the Coming Revolution)
Leaving my corporate job was the best decision I’ve ever made. Yes, it’s stressful and difficult to make it on your own, but there is nothing more empowering than taking control and responsibility of your entire life by working for yourself.
The system is broken, but we can’t fix what was. The rules have changed. Are you going to use the new rules to your advantage?