It seems that everyone is talking about the Occupy Wall Street movement. And yet, no one knows what it is.
Including the people who are a part of it.
Intuitively, this would signal a need to dissolve, come up with a solid game plan, then regroup in an organized and orderly fashion that doesn’t make them seem like a bunch of lazy, snivelling, doped-up hippies looking for a handout — or worse, rioters. That would defeat the purpose. This is supposed to be a peaceful social revolution of sorts, not a senseless demonstration of violence and anarchy.
The general idea is that the protesters are railing against the economic inequality that has been established and reinforces the class disparity status quo. People believe that laws and systems are in place that keep the poor on the bottom (the 99%) and the rich on the top (the 1%). The only problem is that this message has been sort of surmised after two months of protesting, and no one has any clear, practicable ideas for solutions. Right now, it is for all intents and purposes an extremely pervasive international outdoor sleepover movement. Complete with drugs, drums, and hobos.
But it could be so much more than that. We could actually make a difference. We just need to come at it from a different angle. Cite specific laws that should be abolished or amended! It’s like “issue ads” versus “campaign ads.” Candidates are able to skirt certain prohibitive soft money contribution regulations by calling their ads “issue ads” instead of “campaign ads” because they call attention to an issue rather than the candidate (of course, the message is usually obscured by the candidate because they’re trying to get away with something, which is the whole point, but whatever). What we need to do is get around this being a “campaign riot” by turning it into an “issue riot” — call attention to the issue, not the Occupiers. Seriously. Pinpoint specific instances of abuse and go about trying to fix it. Don’t just set up camp in the middle of a park and complain.
The reason I suggest not actually occupying anything is because of one very good and demonstrably valid reason: IT MAKES YOU LOOK BAD. It distracts from the message! Especially when it has gone on for so long… and there’s no end in sight. People who are trying to get to work or enjoy a simple cup of coffee at an outdoor cafe cannot do so in relative comfort and safety because of the protesters in their way. What’s worse is that a lot of these people would probably support the movement if it wasn’t such a damn hindrance!
And now, people are getting hurt. And not just by the cops. A girl in Vancouver died from a drug overdose, a pregnant woman and an 84-year-old woman were pepper sprayed, police have cordoned off protesters only to hit them with pepper spray or rubber bullets, and the Occupy Oakland demonstration turned into what can only be described as a trademark Raiders after-party. The police have acted inappropriately, both of their own accord and after provocation, which destabilizes the whole country in a way. When we can’t trust our policemen, and they become a symbol of social injustice simply because their abuses are documented juxtaposed against a backdrop of protesters fighting for equality, everyone suffers. The police have to be a force that we feel will protect us in order for our law enforcement system to function. So, we need to come together as a cohesive unit and work with tools like reason and compromise in order to fix our problems. Admittedly, that is easier said than done, but gathering in a park and turning it into a love-in is not the way to do it.
Now, I’m not one of those people who’s going to say “If you’re not rich and successful, whose fault is that??!” or “If you don’t like being poor, get a job!” I realize there really are injustices in our society and it’s never that simple to fix. For instance, what job?? There are no jobs to be gotten in the country right now! So I won’t pretend that’s a solution. People are fed up and ready for some serious change. I get that.
And to show my support for the overall idea, I’m going to post a couple of links to those (what I’m calling) “notebook page testimonials” and whatnot so we can appreciate all angles of this issue. I think that, no matter what you think of the Occupiers themselves or the movement in general, we can all agree that some things need to change in our society. Maybe the best way to get started on that is to hear what everyone has to say:
– THE DUEL CITIZEN