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All together now…

November 30, 2011

United we stand, divided we fall.

It’s an old phrase, well-worn, comfortable in the mouth.

Things are changing. That is to say, if you’re luck enough to be in the ‘west’ (which kind of depends on where in the world your map starts), and able to watch, or even take part in the Occupy movement, things might be changing.

Of course, if you’re in that position you’re lucky. You probably have access to clean water, food, health care, education, a roof over your head (whether you choose to sleep under it or not)… the list goes on. This puts you head and shoulders in front of billions of the world’s poor. Count your blessings.

And then pass them on.

It is your duty to pass your blessings on.

Whether you have billions of dollars, or stale crumbs. If you are reading this blog post, you are blessed. Not because of what I’m writing – because someone taught you to read!

I don’t care if you’re a person of faith or of non. I don’t care if you choose to think of duty as a religious issue, a social contract or a way of giving your selfish genes the best possible chance of reproduction.

Part of doing that is supporting your fellows in whatever way you can.

Today is the Day of Action in the UK – the big bad day of the National Strike. It’s been looming for a while, and all the while it’s been coming, the ‘powers that be’ have been doing their hardest to split ‘us’ (the voting public) into private vs public (as if public sector employees aren’t taxpayers too!). That’s not fostering solidarity – that’s not standing together. That’s dividing us so we fall.

“The government’s plan to ask employees to work longer and pay more is a political choice, not an economic necessity,” says George Eaton in the New Statesman.

We tell our kids all the time, you can’t make yourself bigger by bringing the other person down. Why on earth is it supposed to work differently with this? Making things worse for people in the public sector isn’t going to make them any better for those in the private sector or the third sector or no sector at all.

I can’t go on strike; I’m self-employed. But I am going on a march later this morning. Because I think we need our public sector. Imperfect as it is, it’s better than there not being one. I want people to want to work in the public sector,  to be committed to it, to work hard for it and stay in it, building careers’ worth of experience – because they’re working for me, so that I can have a better life. They’re working for all of us, so we can have libraries and travel on decent roads, and have our rubbish collected, and know that someone will help if our house burns down or gets burgled or we get sick. So that we can have communications with other countries on a governmental level, so that planes don’t crash in the air above us, so we can have public swimming baths and parks, and all the myriad of other things that make life pretty darn amazing in this country.

The Occupy movement and the national strikes have their roots in the same ground. The current way of working is broken and needs a major rethink. We need to work together to come up with a new solution, not get distracted fighting over the scraps the broken system throws us.

"We Are All In This Together" pro union solidarity poster. By Molly Crabapple and John Leavitt

"We Are All In This Together" By Molly Crabapple and John Leavitt. From OccupyDesign.org

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