Complex Ideas Take Time

It’s taken me two months to write an “Occupy Wall Street”/”We are the 99%” post.  Two months.

It’s not that I haven’t tried; I’ve got several drafts loaded into WordPress, just waiting for me to hit “publish” and a few more as Text Files.

Nor is it due to a lack of time on my part.  Anyone following my Facebook or Twitter accounts knows that I’ve been posting information relating to Occupy Wall Street and The 99% daily.  Conversations that I have with complete strangers not about Occupy always turn into Occupy at some point.

The reason why it’s taken two months for this post is because the ideas and dialogue surrounding Occupy and generated by Occupy and We are the 99% are so complex that’s hard imaging them all boiled down into 500 words or so. Everything is now on the table for discussion in ways that I’ve never seen before.

To illustrate this, I want to share a comment that came from a family member via Facebook in response to the We Are the 99% Tumblr Blog.  For privacy reasons, I’ve omitted their name and excerpted the comment.

I have worked hard for many years… and have no intention of allowing your leftist friends in government to continue to reach into my pockets to give it to those who don’t contribute. I will do everything I can to prevent it. It began with the election of 2010, and will continue next year, when the left is moved to a solid minority in the Senate, and the President is replaced with a moderate. That will be how I protest. No drama. No hideous displays that serve no purpose but to disrupt and create a garrish spectacle for the media. I will vote my will. That is how the founders intended it.

Did you catch all of that?

In that one section – which remember, is part of a longer comment, which in turn was part of a larger 32 comment exchange – the following ideas were introduced:

  • the Left as a socio-political entity (and all my friends being leftist government employees)
  • the idea that one’s equity will be given to another regardless of merit
  • the 2010 US mid-term election
  • good protest vs bad protest
  • protest as spectacle
  • the desire to marginalize the Left in the US Senate
  • the desire to replace President Obama with a “moderate”
  • the Founding Fathers

All of these bullet points are blog posts, lengthy articles, and future dissertations in their own right.  They are not stand alone entities, but intertwine with each other many times over.  To pick them apart one by one requires hours upon hours of analysis, thought, and research.  Instead of specializing in one or two things (an amount our brain can handle), we’ve turned into a darkly comic Spanish Inquisition sketch, where we can’t even remember what it was we wanted to have a conversation about in the first place (The We are the 99% Tumblr blog).

Further complicating things, everyone has their own opinion on each of these things (myself included) and we each think, to some degree, that our particular interpretation is more right than another (again, guilty as charged).  With such a potent combination, is it little wonder that we’re reduced posting diatribes on family members Facebook pages?

So how on earth do we actually deal with this?

How do we deal with the fact that part of our society is in the streets demanding that banking institutions be dramatically reorganized and that others are calling for a redistribution of wealth in the county?

How on earth do we deal with the fact that others – who are not in the banking industry, nor are part of the 1% that controls the majority of the wealth –  see such calls to action as a threat to their own well being?

How do we deal with riot police pepper spraying students at a public university?

How do we deal with questions, opinions, and beliefs – like those expressed in the earlier Facebook post –  that we never thought were part of the original discussion?

I’m asking because complex situations, and the questions that they raise, require weighting and assessing multiple sources of information before making a decision.  The process itself requires time, effort and communication from many, and is ongoing.  There is never a set or fixed Solution; instead there are many solutions that need to be tried and tested in order to accurately judge their effectiveness.  All of this takes time.

Yet we must not turn this into an excuse to not continue to ask hard questions or engage with others.  Our response should not be “go away, I’m busy.”  

If anything, we should be stepping up our game as we wrestle with the problems at hand.  We should continue to discuss Occupy Wall Street and We Are the 99%.  Journalists should continue to cover what happens, pundits should continue to expound on what they think, and we should continue to post links, ask questions, and write comments on one and others’ Facebook walls.


Because these are problem solving skills in action.  This is how we as humans actually process complex ideas and problem solve.  And it doesn’t happen under a deadline, either.  It’s an ongoing process that builds upon each new idea, each new solution and each past attempt.

So we should take comfort in the fact that all of the marching, shouting, pepper spraying and Facebook posting is conversation at work.  We are, indeed, trying to solve these problems and answer these questions.

Good Advice

Let’s keep up the good work.  It’s going to be a long haul.