This protest is different from anything America has ever seen.
With no leaders or a cohesive slogan, a casual observer could be excused for dismissing the protest and its members.
But ignoring this movement would be a big mistake. We are seeing history in the making, no matter what comes of these national protests. Here is what we can learn from Occupy Wall Street movement:
1. Don’t underestimate the power of social networking. One of the most fascinating aspects of this protest is how it has mobilized people with varied concerns. Protesters in New York’s Zuccotti Park are there for many different reasons, including concern over the economy, the environment, the war in Afghanistan and the state of America.
Despite the fact that these disaffected individuals are not all protesting the same problems, they are lending each other legitimacy by protesting together.
If social networking can bring together a diverse group of people to protest—without the once-indispensable unifying slogan or charismatic leader—imagine what it can do for those hoping to tackle their finances.
Personal finance bloggers use this incredible medium to bring together disparate individuals who are all connected through their concern over their finances. Their struggles can be made more manageable by being shared with others.
Never before have we had such an opportunity to connect and share burdens and problems—and Occupy Wall Street has shown us just how powerful community and connection can be.
2. Sustainability should be our goal. The housing collapse is one of the more easily identifiable issues that the Occupy Wall Street protesters are upset about. And truly, it was clear even to lay people that the housing bubble of 2007 was not something that could continue indefinitely.
Had the banks and investors behind the mortgage derivatives chosen to put their money into a sustainable profit-generating business model rather than going for the quick and big money (editor’s note: and had unqualified consumers not taken on too much mortgage), our economy would be in a much better position.
When it comes to money management, taking the long view will treat you better, whether you are an individual balancing your checkbook or a multi-national bank making billion dollar deals. Without a sustainable plan in place, someone will end up paying for the imbalance.
3. Don’t be afraid to change course. Much has been made of inconsistencies within the Occupy Wall Street movement, and it certainly can seem confusing that such a large group of people has gathered for apparently conflicting reasons. However, all of the protesters have come together because they are unhappy with the state of the country, no matter where they place the blame for it.
Once together, they are now able to discuss, teach, argue and convince each other about practical solutions. This movement will not accomplish anything unless the protesters are willing to stay open-minded. Only time will tell if the grand conversation that the movement has generated will lead to change.
For us, it’s important to remember that there is much to be learned from our peers and that there can be many different ways to reach our money goals. We must remain open-minded in our approach to money and feel comfortable changing course if a better one is offered. Sticking to any one way of doing things simply because of tradition will ultimately cost you.
Whatever your opinion of the protesters, the three lessons of social networking, sustainability and adaptability are all worth adopting from them.
Photo by _PaulS_