Occupy Wall Street was a grass roots movement with all the difficulties associated with such. Here in New Zealand and I imagine around the world, the impulse was quickly and enthusiastically grasped and acted upon. It certainly hit a nerve in international consciousness.

The criticisms are obvious and have been pointed out ad nauseum; yes, it was chaotic and unfocussed and attracted all the usual malcontents and young people just wanting to hang out and have an experience etc etc etc. However, had it been ONLY that, would it have swept the free world in the way it did?

For something to catch on as powerfully as OWS it had to resonate with  the feelings, observations, beliefs of a very large number of people. In addition to those physically on the streets, there was a huge number of people silently or actually supporting the activists.

Even if it did nothing else, the movement drew attention to the truly dreadful wealth inequality and the cultural accomodations of that inequality that have produced some pretty serious social maladies.

In the interests of enormous wealth accumulation people starve while food goes to waste in gigantic warehouses, good land becomes covered in tarmac or sequestered into non-productive, unnecessarily spacious private real estate and money that could be circulating becomes tied up in seldom used, expensive toys and collections. It is not that accumulating a degree of wealth through one’s own intelligence and hard work is wrong. Quite the opposite; it is to be admired. However, when that becomes an end in itself; when there is never “enough” because of the need for capital to keep expanding in order to survive, there has to come a tipping point both of morality and of the expansion itself.

There is something deeply disturbing about the fact a poor person can be electrocuted for murdering one other human being while a rich one can be lauded for donating money to a charity while his wealth-accumulating activities cause the death or suffering of thousands of fellow human beings just out of the line of sight of those conferring honours upon him. How can it be OK  for a head of state to build huge garish accommodation for his family while his people have to beg for charity and die in their tens of thousands of starvation or poverty related disease?

There is so much more to the whole question of inequality than simply the mechanics of how wealth is distributed, traded and accumulated. There are the deeper questions of morality, compassion, responsibility (for self and others), comprehension of the fact there is a whole world of people out there, beyond the boundaries of nationality, race and creed.

The answers to these questions are difficult to come to grips with and may be the reason why a movement like OWS sometimes seems hard to pin down as people struggle to communicate their instinctual reactions in ways that can be comprehended by the masses mesmerized by the distractions and distorting mirrors of a society bent around working for the few who are in control of the political and financial institutions and placating the rest in order to be able to continue creating and sequestering wealth as an end unto itself.

To finish on a positive note; it is wonderful to live in a society where people with strong ideas can demonstrate those freely and raise the awareness and consciousness of their society. If that is the only outcome of OWS, then it has achieved and important goal, because it is the consciousness of humanity that will determine our fate.