Metropolitan Museum of Art - Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Infinite Compassion. Photo: WallyG on flickr

Metropolitan Museum of Art - Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Infinite Compassion. Photo: WallyG on flickr

From Ground Zero To Zero Tolerance

Slowly, very slowly, the mainstream media is getting it. Possibly a result of remembering that reporters get stories by leaving the office and engaging with the subjects of their pieces, I’ve started to see some posts today that more closely resemble accurate analyses of Occupy Wall Street. It’s not that OWS actually cares much about how they’re being portrayed by corporate controlled media organizations that the protesters consider as much a part of the problem as the banks or corporations. One does have to wonder though what in hell is going through the heads of the NY Times’ editorial board, as the paper considered by most people to be the bastion of the liberal press continues to present a somewhat condescending and cynical view of the protest. But OWS doesn’t care because they don’t have to care, they have their own media, with an audience of newly passionate Americans who will have no trouble with the fact that there doesn’t seem to be a label for this movement.

Whereas on the surface this protest is about the occupation itself, camping out on a cold Manhattan sidewalk is hardly the goal of a group of smart, dedicated, and committed people. Occupy Wall Street is an ever evolving series of political discussions building towards the discovery of innovative solutions that will Occupy the consciousness of distressed and disaffected Americans across the politcal and social spectrum. In a televised interview with Rev. Al Sharpton today on MSNBC, Harrison Schultz, one of the movement’s originators who is fully employed and also going for his PhD in sociology, put it best: “This is a conversation. We’re talking about revolution, not about reform”. This kind of out of the box thinking makes it nearly impossible for the entrenched media to translate into the packaged soundbites they’re used to serving up to a public deprived of its span of attention. Occupy Wall Street isn’t interested in who’s running for President, what the current capital gains tax rate is, or how big a deficit problem we have, but it’s not because they’re dumb or ill-informed. Instead of directly confronting the monolithic and monstrous machine created by the marriage of commerce and politics, the protesters are only interested in planting the seeds to grow a new system, with a level playing field for all, a system in which people are united in their dedication to preserving the common good, where corporate profits take a back seat to those good old inalienable rights.

Noah Kass, a therapist, blogger for The Street.com, and a weekly guest on the Dylan Ratigan show on MSNBC, just tweeted me this: “ change does not happen overnight, but when it does look out…compassion and passion working together.” Perhaps Noah hit on the one word that’s been missing from all the attempted media analysis, and the one word that you can sense inside the statements of anyone currently occupying Liberty Park: compassion. I found it extremely compelling to absorb the fact that this protest is taking place literally across the street from ground zero, the site of the worst tragedy in American history. The transformation of that much destruction into so much unified creative energy and goodwill is astounding to contemplate. This can only happen when a country consciously casts its fears aside and remembers that our common purpose is to care for one another. We’re taking the first steps in rediscovering that compassion and Occupy Wall Street, in its own anarchic way, is creating a new process in which we can apply it.