Occupy Wall Street (OWS) is a resistance movement of people who want Wall Street, the government and corporations to realize that individuals have the power to create change from the bottom-up. Yet the language of OWS concerns me, because it’s the language of war, instead of the language of collaboration and integration.

OWS doesn’t have an official website, just an unofficial de facto online resource (as it calls itself). It describes itself as leaderless resistance movement. Occupy Wall Street states it is composed of the We Are The 99%, and that they will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%. On its website, it states they are using the revolutionary Arab Spring tactics and encourage the use of nonviolence to maximize the safety of all participants (Hmmm . . . ).

 Day 14

It’s exciting to see Occupy Wall Street all over the country deliver a message that transcends government and party politics. I am interested to see how OWS takes part in the conversation of change. Yet I can’t help but wonder if the language that is being used in OWS isn’t what got us into this mess in the first place.

There is no place to go and see the accomplishments of OWS to date, which makes it similar to our experience with war in Iraq; is anything really getting done, or are we being swept away by propaganda? There is a lot of talk, but what kind of results or payoff can we identify? Is our most effective target for occupation really Wall Street, or is something else?

OWS primarily makes me concerned with people getting arrested and injured unnecessarily for civil disobedience (or just assembling), but it also makes me sorry for the police, who may feel like the 99% but can’t act in any significant way. Or who are forced to make decisions so quickly in the heat of the moment that often, they are the wrong decisions. Why does trying to understand the effects of a leaderless revolution feel so much like trying to understand the results of the Iraq War?

War and its language have a way of polarizing positions much more immediately than conflicts that don’t use the language of war. I do, however, agree that our last war did an amazing job of humanizing our troops and keeping them out of the argument of right and wrong. I was amazed during the Iraq War how Support Our Troops (no matter what happens) gave us compassion for the men and women fighting there—if not for the actual fight itself. What would happen if compassion was integral to the conversation, instead of simply dispensed from the sidelines?

The language of war is more the world of men than women, as is Wall Street. Rules, structure, boundaries and achievement dominate over compassion, humanity and the group dynamic. Ask yourself why we have a financial services industry in the first place: because we’re afraid we’ll screw it up on our own. FEAR. Wall Street controls us by making us afraid. So does the IRS. Does OWS? OWS may well be polarizing people to believe that either you revolt or you don’t get your needs met. Fight or flight. And it’s impossible to enter an intelligent discussion and be truly empowered if you’re in fight or flight mode.

When we think of power and money, we think of gaining control and influence over someone or something outside of ourselves. That’s also describing the male archetype of being an alpha male. When we think of empowerment, the desire tends to be a softer, more feminine-based internal mastery of oneself that makes us more effective with working with the external world. Which of these concepts is more conducive to helping the 99%? In helping ourselves?

The world of men is about competition and risk-taking, but it may be less rational. A recent British study used the saliva of male traders to track natural variations of testosterone and the level of profits they earned for the firm on a daily basis.

“We found that a trader’s morning testosterone level predicts his day’s profitability,” reported the study, published last year in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Higher testosterone meant more risk-taking and, usually, more money.

pepper spray cop 3Men have an advantage over women on the trading floor, but the study also suggested that elevated testosterone levels “may shift risk preferences and even affect a trader’s ability to engage in rational choice.” In other words: when male traders crash . . . they crash hard. When police try to control an unruly crowd, they pepper-spray people indiscriminately.

Bringing more feminine qualities to OWS (and Wall Street) could prevent the me-versus-you mentality and maintain a more even, rational approach. After all, when we gave women the ability to vote, we also saw some unexpected gains.

Skeptics note that the first president elected after women got the national vote was Warren Harding — an embarrassment to female voters ever since. Yet a study published recently in The Quarterly Journal of Economics by Grant Miller of Stanford University indicates that female voters did have a profound and positive impact.

Where women won the vote before national enfranchisement, politicians there quickly began behaving differently — in particular, devoting about 35% more money to new public health programs. These programs were seen as a priority for women, and the politicians wanted to curry favor with them.

The same happened at the national level: the 19th Amendment of 1920 was followed a year later by the Sheppard-Towner Act, a landmark public health measure, because members of Congress believed that was what women wanted. The upshot of all this was a sharp decline in child mortality, with the study attributing 20,000 fewer deaths nationally each year to the impact of women’s suffrage.

There are great male qualities that can integrate with the feminine sensibilities to achieve a more financially balanced ecosystem and government. But all of the choices start with how the individual perceives his or her own situation. Are you at war with your finances? What does all of this mean for your choices of power and empowerment around your own, personal stash of money? Who are you resisting or revolting against in your financial life?

Albert Einstein gave us perspective on so many issues, not least of all the issue of peace. He said, “Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding.”

Therefore, for peace of mind over our money, economy and our political choices, we need to first have peace over ourselves and our own situation. And that won’t come from revolution, resistance and protest; it can only come from compassion, balance and humanity.

What about you? How have you achieved more peace, balance and empowerment in your finances?

 

Author's Bio: 

Mindy Crary (MBA, CFP® practitioner and financial coach at Creative Money) helps you become a lot more educated (never inundated) about not just your money — but the whackjob behind it. Go to Creative Money and sign up for free classes and more valuable money tips.