I discontinued my satellite service last year. (TV Less) Most of the news was commentary instead of reporting and the ads carried themes of either fear or unrealistic excess. My life became quieter. My stress reduced. I’m feeling much healthier now. I can’t imagine investing in the broadcast media. Most of my news now is via Google News and searches. I only dive into a story if it is a new perspective or an unexpected twist. Much of the daily political machinations are on constant replay. I watch for the bigger replays, the generational trends that play out over years and decades. A trend can appear inconsequential when each detail is excessively examined. But lots of little droplets can turn into floods and storms that redefine the world.
About a week or so ago I watched a documentary called, “The Wall: A World Divided“. It is the story of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Evidently it wasn’t an evening for light entertainment. It was enlightening and humbling. I thought the wall went up immediately after World War II, but it didn’t go up until 1961, two years after I was born. It came back down, which seems obvious in retrospect but was revolutionary in 1990. A generation had grown assuming the Wall would always be there. The documentary did a good job describing the social pressures that created crowds that couldn’t be denied, even within a totalitarian regime.
The people were inspired by the stories from the Solidarity Movement and from Tiananmen Square. Enough people became upset to ask for and demand change. In one case they got it. In the other case it looked like they failed, but they probably affected unacknowledged internal changes. A swell of people, through a series of increasingly less inconsequential events, made themselves heard. It was political change, but it came mostly from the populace.
That’s where our country came from. We The People, decided it was time for a change, and we changed our world.
My brain clicked through some connections that wouldn’t fit within a news broadcast. The American Revolution encouraged the French Revolution. As I recall from Gandhi’s autobiography, it also inspired his more peaceful work to free India from the British Empire. His work inspired the human rights movement of the 1960s. Allow me to skip to the longer string of connections that came to mind.
The English challenged the Royals with the Magna Carta, which centuries later encouraged
the American Revolution, which years later encouraged
the French Revolution and decades later encouraged Independence for India.
The Communist Revolutions in Russia and China may have found courage in the power of crowds from those earlier movements.
The Human Rights movement of the was encouraged by Gandhi’s success.
Tiananmen Square & Polish Solidarity were influenced by stories and lessons learned as unfiltered information pervaded dissatisfied populations.
The Fall of Berlin Wall was inspired by their courage and successes.
Then came the Breakup of the Soviet Union where a revolution removed the products of an earlier revolution.
Skip ahead through a few reasonably quiet years and welcome to the
All of those movements, revolutions, dramatic changes were brought about by passionate people who joined together and found a voice (sometimes discordant and always loud) against dysfunctional institutions
So why would anyone discount the Occupy Movement?
And why would I blog about such a topic under the charter of this blog? This blog is based on my book, Dream. Invest. Live., a book about how I handle my finances and the advantages I’ve found in the combination of personal awareness, frugality, and individual stock investing. Much of the Occupy Movement rhetoric is directed at dysfunctional distributions of resources and power. Except for Tiananmen Square, each of the events listed above resulted redistributions of wealth and power. Whether it was royalty losing authority or rights being distributed to all, crowds of people changed the way everyone lived their lives and earned their livings.
I bemoan my current financial situation. More than enough times I’ve reviewed my strategy and portfolio. Based on thirty years of investing in a particular financial environment, I’d made good choices. There was risk within that system within normal markets I suspect that I’d be enjoying the rewards from having taken those risks. Companies that were startups five years ago are making hundreds of millions of dollars a year, yet their stocks are trading at a tenth of their recent prices.
Every plan for the future is based on implicit and explicit assumptions. The explicit ones are easiest to see; e.g. bond ratings, employment expectations, historical interest rates, living expenses, etc. The unexpected changes witnessed after the American Revolution, after the Fall of the Berlin Wall, after any of those events partially result from the changes in the implicit assumptions. So I wonder, even if the Occupy Movement is moved out of the parks they occupy, what walls will fall within our lives and institutions? What personal internal walls should I tear down to be ready and able to thrive in a new world? It’s time for me to dream again about how I want to live.