I’ve spent the last week watching the Occupy Wall Street movement, and reading every little bit of opinion and news that I could find on the protest, and the entire movement. And while I’ve definitely seen some people twist it all out of proportion both ways (whether that be insistence that capitalism be destroyed root to branch, or that it’s ‘just nutters whinging about their college costing’), I’m just glad to see the discussion happening. And I’m glad that, at the least, I can do my bit to try and explain it to friends who don’t get what’s going on, or have some rather firm mis-assumptions. Which is fine after a fashion – at least they are aware?
I also know that one of the biggest complaints I see and hear is that there is no focus, that there is no overarching message or point. I disagree – it is all messages and points. It is an invitation for all Americans to set aside the pride and hubris that tripped them into debt and deprivation to stand up and admit it. It is your chance to say that you are as mad as hell about having no money for a home, for medical, for a vacation (if your employer even gives you a vacation!). It is not a protest against the middle class (as Mayor Bloomberg would have you believe with his claims that the primary target are those earning $40,000-$50,000 a year!) or the have-somes. Nearly everyone has been screwed, hence the one agreed-upon point of focus – we are the 99 percent. We are sick of being lied to, lied about, told that we’re too stupid and scared to live our own lives. That we must be raped and pillaged for our safety and security. That we should have a house with a picket fence and 2 cars, college educations and a lifetime of being indebted. That objects are happiness, that happiness is available for a subscription fee, and that we should agree with it to fill the hole in our souls left by being told that we’re nothing.
What a great trick, neh?
Past that, I must take a moment to address active duty military service members who might be thinking of joining the Occupy protests. There are reports of Marines going in uniform, though I’ve not heard if this has actually happened yet. In some ways, they’re braver than the rest of the people there, as they are in direct violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. I honestly cannot remember the full scope of potential punishment (and have no real desire to read through the damned thing again), but one of my friends in the OSI suggests the worst they’ll probably get is a Letter of Reprimand. While that is not necessarily career-ending on its own, it’s not small change either. It IS their careers to gamble, not mine, but for any who might think about doing that in or out of uniform – pick carefully. Please. You know there’s not a cushy civilian job waiting for you, or good or decent-for-free health care, so…
Even if you don’t want to march or camp out, do check out OccupyTogether.org to see how you can help. Whether it be dropping off some batteries or canned food, you can help the people who are trying to stand up for you. Change cannot happen unless we try to make change happen, so what’s the harm of trying to nudge this along? 😉
Finally, just have to say – I have never been prouder to be an American. I’ve said pride goeth before a fall, and it does. We are a proud people, and it does get used to blind us to our failings. No more. There is no shame in standing up and admitting that we all have been screwed, and that we all should have a say in how to fix it. It’s a good way to proceed.