“If they sent you over to cover the Gulf War,” I was once told, “you’d somehow turn it into a story about relationships.” What’s wrong with seeing the world through a social lens? In 2009, I wrote a book documenting the importance, for better or worse, of “consequential strangers”– everyone other than family and close friends. Most of these acquaintances are beneficial, bringing novelty, new energy, and support into your life. Others can make your life miserable. .
So when a friend recently theorized that Occupy Wall Street is the latest sign that people are standing up to bullies, I immediately saw her point. That Kaddafi was brutally stoned and shot to death bolstered her argument. And weren’t the various civil rights movements essentially a case of victims rising up against their oppressors? Coincidentally, this conversation took place a few days after New Jersey passed its new anti-bullying law.
Bullying is an apt “frame” for a lot of what’s wrong in our financial institutions, our governments, and our schoolyards. At the very least, greedy bankers need to learn to “share,” and elected officials who refuse to rise above politics in search of common ground could do with a lesson in “use your words.” We try to teach children that they’re not the center of the universe. We obviously have to extend that lesson to grownups as well.
To borrow from the movie Network, the victims of injustices here and abroad are mad as hell and aren’t going to take it any more. Continue Reading »