“Don’t trust anyone over 30″

When I was a kid, and definitely under 30, the hippies had a slogan that you shouldn’t trust anyone over 30. This was called the generation gap. Maybe some historian or sociologist can explain it. I just remember people saying it and not understanding.

I could think of specific people over 30 that you coudn’t trust. People I had seen betray young people because they were young and couldn’t defend themselves. When you’re a kid you’re tuned into this. I guess the question is what do you plan to do about it when you become an adult. Will you be better, or will you seek revenge? Or just forget about it.

And here we are again.

I’ve been watching the Occupy Wall Street movement. I’ve even developed tools that make it possible to watch it more closely, and I do see a little bit of this kind of thinking. I’m concerned how solid the line is, and if there’s an opportunity for resolution.

What it sounds like. We’re the 99 percent and they’re the 1 percent. We’re angry with what the 1 percent has been doing. If it stopped there, it would be okay, but it might not stop there.

But first, let’s take a look at what they’re reacting to.

Here’s a quote from a NY Times article with interviews with Wall Street bankers about the OWS movement.

He added that he was disappointed that members of Congress from New York, especially Senator Charles E. Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, had not come out swinging for an industry that donates heavily to their campaigns. ‘They need to understand who their constituency is,’ he said.

Breath-taking. That person needs to be revolted against. Seriously. (And the article has lots of quotes like that, this one is just the most egregious.)

But does that mean that all people who are in the top 1 percent think like that? Obviously, not. And in the 60s there were people over 30 who marched with the kids. Many problems with blanket statements like “Don’t trust anyone over 30.” Unfair. And they also make victory impossible. To get resolution you have to make it so that being over 30 isn’t a problem for those under 30. And that 1 percenters don’t make it impossible for the 99 percent to have good lives.

What if, instead, a collection of 1-percenters said: “We hear you. We understand that the political system has been perverted by money. The evidence is everywhere. We need reform. Can we put our minds together and try to come up with a way out of this mess?”

If that happened would there be a way to proceed?

I find it’s always a good idea to try to visualize the conclusion of your campaign. What would victory look like? And if you get close would you be willing to compromise? These are good questions to ask when a conflict is young, because later there will be too many wounds to just declare peace and get on with it.

PS: Highly recommend reading Fred Wilson’s piece, also posted today, about the visit we took to Zuccotti Park on Thursday.

PPS: Also highly recommended, Mark Cuban has several specific ideas that sound right on to me.

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About Dave Winer

Dave Winer, 54, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.
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