Proposed Vision Statement to be presented to the General Assembly for consensus on Saturday November 19, 2011. Any proposed amendments should be brought up in the online discussion, through email, or at the Vision and Goals meeting on Saturday at 12:00 p.m. at 60 Wall Street.

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From the General Assembly of the Occupy Wall Street movement, To the People of the World we offer a preliminary Declaration of our Vision.

Our Vision is that of  [1] a free, democratic, and just society;  [2] where we, the people, come together and solve our problems by consensus;  [3] where people are encouraged to take personal responsibility and participate in decision making; [4] where political and economic institutions work to benefit all, not just a privileged few;  [5] where we learn to live in harmony and embrace principles of toleration and respect for the differing views of others;  [6] where we secure the civil and human rights of all from infringement by tyrannical forces and unjust governments;  [7] where we provide full and free education to everyone, not merely to get jobs but to grow and flourish as human beings;  [8] where we value human needs over monetary gain, because when people lack security, education, or a standard of living adequate for their well being, effective democracy is impossible;  [9] where we work together to protect the global environment to ensure that future generations will have safe and clean air, water, and food supplies, and will be able to enjoy the beauty and bounty of nature that past generations have enjoyed. 

 

17 Responses to “Proposed Vision Statement to be presented to the General Assembly for consensus on Saturday November 19, 2011. Any proposed amendments should be brought up in the online discussion, through email, or at the Vision and Goals meeting on Saturday at 12:00 p.m. at 60 Wall Street.”

  1. Natasha

    On point 7: [7] where we provide full and free education to everyone, not merely to get jobs but to grow and flourish as human beings;

    does this mean free education at every level?

    i might suggest something more along the lines of,
    “[7] where everyone has an equal right, and equal access, to a good, ample and robust education
    [7a] where education, rather than encouraging a pursuance of personal gain, encourages people to grow and flourish as human beings, cognizant and respectful of the world in which we live”

    • Rich Woytowich

      Natasha,
      People who pursue particular careers are not necessarily doing it for personal gain. Where would we be without the lawyers who go to court for us? In any event, I wouldn’t put the burden on the students – I’d put it on the system. It’s not just about high paying professions – there is another whole level at which the system takes advantage of students. I’ve spent my teaching career in a technical college (now a “college of technology”) where students are just trying to get jobs that pay a living wage. The only place where they get to think big thoughts – like the ones we’re thinking today – is in their liberal arts courses. Even there, they can choose courses that don’t bring them face to face with great ideas. (I can try to share some of my ideas with my students, but there are limits to what I can do in the classroom. Most of my students do know about my involvement with OWS. Some of them see the ethical problems in working for, say, Goldman Sachs. But they also know that that’s where the money is – I can’t blame them for wanting to get a piece of the pie so they can pay the rent and raise a family. I just hope that they’ll think about what they’re helping their employers to do. Then they can make their own decisions.)
      Another issue – which I think you incorporated into your proposed amendment – is that jobs as we know them may not exist in our vision of the future. There may be other ways to be a self – sustaining, productive member of society. So I at one time had an amendment which I think is similar to yours:

      “where we provide full and free education to everyone, not merely TO PLAY ROLES DEFINED BY OTHERS, but to grow an flourish as human beings.

      I probably won’t put my idea forward as an amendment, so you’re more than welcome to use any or all of it.
      -RIch

  2. Michael Korn

    Hi Natasha, I have a direct response to your suggestions and then a few of my own. You wonder if the meaning of [7] means free education at evey level. In deep respect to you I would submit your suggestions fail to answer the question of what “every level” actually means. It is basically a rewording of what is already put forth.

    In the spirit of congeniality and comradeship, I’d like to suggest the following:

    [7] (original) Where we provide full and free education to everyone, not merely to get jobs but to grow and flourish as human beings.

    [7] (change) Where we provide free education through life to everyone, not merely to get jobs but to grown and flourish as human beings.

    Argument: Since this is supposed to be a vision document that purports to look into the future imagine what a good society and a good world would look like in the near future, the addition of “through life” defines learning beyond the boundaries of defined time ie.- pre-k to grad school and that it would be possibly more stimulating to do this is in a classroom setting with other like-minded individuals. I deleted the word “full” since “through life” doesn’t get any “fuller” than that. I believe it is also a clearer statement than full because of it’s vagueness and I prefer a more transparent phraseology.

    [8] (original) Where we value human lives over monetary gain, because when people lack security, education or a standard of living adequate to their well being, effective democracy is impossible.

    [8] (change) Where we value human lives over monetary gain, because when people lack security, such as education, housing and healthcare or a standard of living adequate to their well being, effective democracy is impossible.

    Argument: The reason that I believe that housing and healthcare rises to the “vision” level is that it is a very basic need that everyone should enjoy. You know the saw “when you have your health you have just about everything” might not be too farfetched. In all our lives everything runs smoothly until we get sick. If you don’t have access to comprehensive full and free or very low-cost healthcare, your life is not being led at an optimum level. And don’t you think that is something worth struggling for? It’s basic and should be included, in my opinion.
    In regards to housing, I believe that about 99% of the earth’s population lives in some form of shelter. Nomadism is mostly a thing of the past. And homelessness is akin to sin. Or it’s just real cheap and tacky in a rich society such as this one. We have the means, let’s find the will to end homelessness and provide housing or apartments for all people!

    [9] (original) Where we work together to protect the global environment to ensure that future generations will have safe and clean, air, water, and food supplies and will be able to enjoy the beauty and bounty of nature that past generations have enjoyed.

    [9] (change) Where we work together to protect the environment from global climate change, thus ensuring that future generations will have safe and clean, air, water and food supplies and will be able to enjoy the beauty and bounty of nature that past generations have enjoyed.

    Argument: In last week’s online edition of the London Guardian, there was an article that basically stated that most scientists are in agreement that we have 5 years before we reach an IRREVERSIBLE level of carbon emissions in the earth’s atmosphere which will bring catastrophic results. So the air, the water and the food supplies are all in jeopardy unless this ONE problem is reversed. It rises to the level of dire importance. We won’t have to worry about the other issues if the planet starts to regurgitate it’s own. So I think that climate change should be added to the document.

    That’s it for now. See everyone tomorrow. Peace!

  3. Natasha

    I wasn’t trying to address the question in my rephrasing of 7, just rephrasing it in a way that skirted the issue for now.

    i agree that people should have free education, through high school, even college. i don’t feel like graduate schools could reasonably be free, because they are so specialized. where would the money come from? even in an ideal society with an equal distribution of wealth and well funded aspects of society such as education, i don’t feel like that’s possible. which is why i replaced it with an equal right and equal access to education.

  4. DVM

    I agree with Natasha in regards to her comment “i don’t feel like graduate schools could reasonably be free, because they are so specialized. where would the money come from? even in an ideal society with an equal distribution of wealth and well funded aspects of society such as education, i don’t feel like that’s possible.”

    My suggestion:
    [7] (original) Where we provide full and free education to everyone, not merely to get jobs but to grow and flourish as human beings.

    [7] (change) Where we provide free education to everyone through Undergrad school and an equal right and access for Graduate School, not merely to get jobs but to grow and flourish as human beings.

    or something along those lines?

    • Rich Woytowich

      Actually, I would like to see something positive happen at the grad school level. I have two Master’s degrees, but no PhD. There are plenty of ways to get a doctorate as a full time student, but not so many ways to get a doctorate while working. I teach in a large public university, where there is now a program to help new faculty finish their PhD’s. A bit too late for me. But I’m not far from retirement. That might bring some opportunities.
      But putting my own case aside, I think there will be a need to provide support for professionals who will need to go (or go back) to grad school in order to take the lead in the new green industries we want to create.
      So maybe it’s just as well to let the statement stay general for now. We can be more specific when we work on “goals”.

  5. Enrico Petrucco

    [1] – [6] no change

    [7] I adopt Michael’s change

    [8] (change) “Where we practice empathy and value human lives over monetary gain, because when people lack normative freedom, the hindered standard of living has proven to make effective democracy is impossible.”

    I propose this change since this clause is the ‘why’ clause and should be all encompassing – hence ‘normative freedom’ which relates to the ideal
    Education and other examples need not be raised into this clause as are inferred from previous clause 7 and earlier.

    [9] should be left as it is, “protect the global environment to ensure…” encompasses such actions as keeping certain pollutants that are not conventionally ‘climate changing’ balanced appropriately in the environment
    (ie: mercury is a serious problem in some rare earth and precious element refining)

    This final clause follows perfectly to extend our vision beyond a harmony between humans to include human harmony with our environment.

    Very well phrased vision.

  6. Enrico Petrucco

    [8] delete last ‘is’ of my previously proposed change of this clause

  7. David Ellis

    Hi – my main concern is “decisions reached by consensus…” Could you define consensus? Though I support increased democratic access and making decisions more democratic I think true consensus is impossible. There will always be at least one person who disagrees, like that pesky rich 1%

    • Michael Korn

      Hi David,

      First off, here is the dictionary definition of consnsus taken from Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary. Consensus – 1. group solidarity in sentiment and belief; 2(a) – a general agreement: UNANIMITY; 2(b) the judgment arrived at by most of those concerned.

      So it has slightly different definitions. The one that we are using at the present time tries to get everyone to consense on whatever item is before the committee. If someone does not agree there are three criterias for disagreement; ethical, procedural, and moral (though those three are in dispute) If someone “blocks” a proposal, we first try to address that individual’s reason and try to resolve it with them. We ask the person if there is something that could satisfy their concern and have the block withdrawn. If they are still adamant, the only way to move forward is to move to a “modified” consensus, which for our purposes, has to meet a 90% threshold. Finally, there is a vote taken and if the threshold is reached, the proposal passes. If not, it is either withdrawn or tabled for further discussion and clarification.

      The reason behind our attempt to use consensus as a substitute for voting is that a direct democracy will better reflect the will of the people rather than the representative model, which only sets the threshold at 50% + 1…leaving everyone else mightily disappointed. We are not absolutely wedded to this exact model…it can evolve over time. But for now, this is how we work in committee. It’s a democratic vision that tries to empower everyone’s voice in the decision making process. If you are in the NYC vicinity…come on down and see for yourself. It can get ugly…but its politics…and as Harry Truman famously said, “If it’s too hot in the kitchen, get out.”

  8. Catherine T

    Hi all – First, thank you Frank for this excellent document. I think there are some excellent suggestions here.

    PLEASE could we change the word “preliminary” (which sounds extremely timid and apologetic) to “living” (which acknowledges that it could change, but without apologizing for it)?

    THANKS

  9. heydb

    if this is to what those who’ve been attending the “V & G” meetings have arrived at consensus and what the group, in aggregate, has agreed to submit to the GA, so be it.

    As one who’s attended meetings in the past, and one who’s participated in other WGs and other Movement initiatives as a whole, I, personally, do not feel this is the ideal ’1st document’/'statement’ to come out of this group, as it’s really covering too much to be a ‘unifying document’ for the 99%/100%.

    Comprehensive statements have already been produced through the “Declaration” & “Principles of Solidarity”. To ultimately arrive at unifying objectives & goals, the objectives need to spring from a clear, succinct, unified foundation.

    That ‘foundation’ is best articulated through a clearly distilled, unifying, one-sentence “Mission Statement”, and a clearly distilled, one-sentence “Vision Statement”.

    Those two clear, succinct, unifying one-sentence statements are rooted in a declared ‘shared-value system’, articulated through a “Shared Values Statement”.

    To me, this is a statement of objectives, being declared prior to these unifying- documents making-up the foundation being established through consensus. The reason that’s not ideal is that odds are likely there are/will-be many out there who take exception to one or some portions of this document/statement. That, to me, is an issue/concern/unfortunate possibility at this stage of the Movement, where unification is a high aim. Personally, I know many individuals who might otherwise support the Movement, who would take exception with some of the aims/principles declared in this statement. That is unfortunate for the Movement.

    In sun…….I feel this document is more like ‘step 5 or 6′, prior to effectively completing steps 1 – 4.

    all that said/offered, tmrw is Saturday, hence, whatever the Group decides to do and, in turn, what those who attend the NYCGA mtg tmrw night decide to do, I wish all constructive, movement-building outcomes.

  10. heydb

    “In sum”, not “In sun”……although I guess “In sun” could work from a poetic standpoint ☼

    in addendum, I agree with Catherine’s suggestion of changing “preliminary” to “living” for the reason she stated

    also…..not throwing in this feedback/input to throw a monkey-wrench in the process. Simply submitting the feedback/input for the record, for whatever it may be worth, presently or prospectively…

  11. Frank

    Can whoever has control over the Riseup list please shorten “occupy-wall-street-vision-and-goals” to “OWS V&G” (or “OWS Vision&Goals”) in Subject box of every email to allow us to see rest of subject being listed? I agree that this caption needs to be modified ASAP as it currently clutters up the Subject box. This will make it easier to locate + identify specific emails in our Inboxes.

    Also, I have been reading through the responses to the proposed Vision Statement and working on trying to incorporate changes into the draft based on the comments I am seeing. I may try to send around an alternate draft w/some possible changes for us to consider at the meeting today at noon. Thank you. –Frank

    PS. I haven’t received anything from the Riseup email list since yesterday morning. Is it possible that there is a problem with the Riseup list?