Text of Robert Thurman’s speech at Occupy Wall Street on October 12, 2011:
“I came down today at your invitation, because I think everyone here is an example of what I have been pushing for, for many years.
Namely what I call cool heroes. We need cool heroes today—We don’t need hot heroes.
By cool, I mean non-violent; I mean those who can be forceful, intelligent, just, and insightful, and speak up loudly and clearly but without getting angry—without indulging in hatred.
Here we are in Liberty Plaza, and we are trying to keep liberty going on this planet.
And actually, this planet is in dire jeopardy because of the military industrial machine that is beyond East and West.
The industrial part has to do with organized greed. It expands the individual’s limitless greed with high tech power, and is transcending the capacity of the planet.
Pollution, Global warming, Over-population: all come from this technological expansion of greed.
On the other side, you have hatred, which necessarily goes along with greed, because the greedy person hates the other greedy person, who is still just trying to take away whatever he wants.
So we need to control both of these problems.
Therefore, in order to do that, every person has to control it inside their own mind. No one should be protesting against some nasty bankers if they really truly do hate them. They are not worthy of being hated. They are just like us—they are just luckier at the moment, and unluckier in the long run, because they are taking away too much from too many. And this makes them paranoid. They never can have any fun, because they think you are going to pick their pockets. And 1 billion is not enough. They need 10. When they get 10, they need 20. When they get 20, they want 100. By that time, they are reduced to a pile of shivering paranoia, trying to hold everything clutched with them in some sort of plastic germ-free bag like Howard Hughes. If they are male, by then, they are on their 4th trophy wife. Their kids can’t stand them, and they are generally afraid of everyone.
Therefore, we have to be sympathetic to them. We don’t hate them—we feel sorry for them. I imagine none of them are out here protesting, making new friends, hanging out, losing weight, getting no good food, having to hold their pee until they find a restaurant. They’re just uptight up in their offices pressing buttons on the computer screen. And the only relief they have is going to some sort of squash court somewhere, and viciously whipping each other. They really are objects of sympathy and compassion.
Actually, I think you all know this, but maybe you just need encouragement about it. Actually, you are happier than the violent people. Look at you—you are all smiling. You are only worried that the professor is going to say too many words, and you won’t be able to hear.
You are actually cool in your own space. You have an aura of liberty about you—that is the most precious thing that you show.
However, the corporatocracy has taken over the mass media and the electoral system, so they are defeating your will.
Every poll says 70% of us want social security without problems, want a single payer medical system, and want to have banks and insurance companies realize they work for us. Service industry means they serve us. We don’t serve them.
A corporatocracy are sort of a wimpy bunch of guys, with a couple of token girls, who don’t actually know how to make anything. But they know how to sign checks and push papers (which my pathetic university taught them—without properly teaching them ethics, or meditation, or sex therapy even, or yoga, or how to have a decent life). But, the one thing they are good at, is not wanting to pay people to make things: an honest wage, a decent job.
So they support dictatorships like China to keep slaves on tap for them, for a dollar a day, so they can bust the unions here and export all of our jobs, and even get tax breaks for it!
This has to stop!
You have to vote the congress people who are corrupt out of office. So that 70% of the wishes of the American people will be honored by them! They should serve their constituents, which is you, and not their contributors—which are the people up there in those buildings, who are the 1% or less.
And you are the 99 percent (or the 70 percent), so you just have to stand there peacefully insisting upon it! And keep it clear in your understanding, and don’t be brainwashed by political propaganda: like Fox News, like all of the Murdoch companies, which are just serving the few corporatocracies, to lull us into complacency. Which, temporarily now, you all are not doing.
Which is really good. You must keep it up. No violence. You must all meditate every day.
But not just a: “Duhhhh, I don’t think anything—Oh, I feel so good, I didn’t think”. That can be nice like a Prozac or something, but it can be a little addictive. And it doesn’t really bring you insight, and it dulls your compassion, and dulls your intelligence—which you really need.
And so when you meditate, think about compassion. Think that here we are, free to spend our time, envisioning a happier world—a world like what Jeff Sachs is working for—talking about Gross National Happiness.”
To watch Bob Thurman’s #OWS speech click here.