George Lakoff, in his October 19th article “How To Frame Yourself,” gives words to what I’ve been trying to articulate in my own mind about the Occupy movement and what needs to happen in America. He uses the idea of frames and framing as in “Frames are just structures of thought that we use every day.”
Responding to the media and punditry that cares about the movement having “no demands,” Lakoff says:
“I think it is a good thing that the occupation movement is not making specific policy demands. If it did, the movement would become about those demands. If the demands were not met, the movement would be seen as having failed.“
Exactly. Because the Real Work is not changing policies. The Real Work is about changing the frame, changing the reference points we use to define our society.
What we need to do in America is rid ourselves of the notion that money is everything; that the making of money, the accumulation of money, is the goal and the yardstick of success; that everyone is a rugged individualist who must either stand on his/her own feet, or fall. This is the narrative, the ideology, the taken-for-granted aspect of American life that must be replaced with a narrative of diligence, modesty, reverence, empathy, compassion.
It’s an outlandish idea, that a movement could focus on re-calibrating the moral fabric of a nation, particularly one as debased and poisonous as our own, and not spend all its moral capital and human energy wrestling with policy. Changing policies will not change the essentially corroded and corrupt national ideology.
Read the Lakoff piece, it’s brilliant.