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Are We Bonobos or Chimpanzees? What Evolution Tells Us About Occupy Wall Street

In bonobo society, where food is abundant and easy to gather, females spend most of their time with each other, offering protection against other forms of violence.

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I’ve heard people poke fun at the emphasis we put on “Process” at Occupy Wall Street. To me, the beautiful and radical act of listening is not about feminine or masculine, but simply about respect – respect for each other and, yes, for our agreed-upon (and ever-evolving) processes of communicating and interacting. When process breaks down – when groups operate without consensus, people and ideas are attacked, voices are silenced – there is no criteria of inclusion that can enforce a “safe space.”

Without respect for each other, we are nothing but chimpanzees. In order to survive, we must learn to live like bonobos. And the more we continue to evolve together, the better the chances that evolution will one day lead to revolution.

Melanie Butler is a member of CodePink's national staff.

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