Signs of solidarity – more than meets the eye.
According to what’s posted on Wikipedia, this movement is focused on Wall Street, in New York City. Participants are mainly protesting against “social and economic inequality, corporate greed, and the influence of corporate money and lobbyists on government, among other concerns.”
Interestingly this movement has no defined leader, which has drawn criticisms from media around a lack of cohesion and purpose. Event organizers hope that the protestors themselves will formulate their own specific demands, expecting them to be focused on “… taking to task the people who perpetrated the economic meltdown.”
Can a leaderless group survive?
The videos and pictures of the clashes and arrests coming out of the protests this past weekend are reminiscent of major protests from the mid 1960’s where millions of students descended upon college campuses across the country. They protested for civil rights and peace. While the issue of race is what started the protests, students used the forum of protesting to make clear their values were different than institutions and the establishment of the time.
Was there a defined leader for these protests? No. The real leader was the solidarity around a common set of values – peace, equality, autonomy, and hope for a better future.
Solidarity can be defined as: a bond of unity around a common goal; a union of interests or purposes.
When groups such as Occupy Wall Street come together, most people just see the aspect of unity and union. It’s the crowd effect. However, the common goal, interests or purpose are often initially unclear or undefined. These tend to evolve over time, as the shared values are honed and tested for both relevance and sustainability.
Shared Values can lead people like no other leader.
It is the sense of solidarity around democracy and freedom that unites Americans of all walks of life. It engages Christians from different churches to come together in sharing their faith and hope in salvation. It can also keep a family together through the roughest times, with the common desire for unconditional love and a better future for their children.
One should never underestimate the power of solidarity around shared values.