I have been watching the Occupy movement with great interest. One night last week, I even dreamt I was there, on Wall Street.
I have an impressive background in civil disobedience. My biological father was a founder of the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley. My adoptive father proudly traveled to Alabama to march with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He braved bullets to do so.
As a younger person, I organized and attended rallies and marches, locally and nationally.
Six months pregnant, I rode in the back of a truck to DC in the winter to protest the first Gulf war. Eighteen years later, that child enlisted in the Army with the goal of fighting in the Global War on Terror. We all serve our country in the way that suits us best.
As we watched the protests in the Middle East a few months ago, and then in Europe, I wondered if those flames would eventually spread here.
They have, but no one talks about it that way. Few in London saw a connection with Egypt, and few in the US sees a connection between the Occupy movement and what has happened all over the globe. Or, if they do, they aren’t talking about it.
Maybe the idea of protest on a global scale is a bit scary to everyone.
One connection, of course, is the huge role that social media has had in organizing and garnering support for these movements.
Despite social media, however, the Occupy movement has had a hard time articulating its demands. Recently, though, they have become clearer, and focused on specific legislative action, rather than the earlier demands that were more sweeping, and less realistic.
On the other side, a Republican presidential candidate has said that the fault of poverty lies with the individual. On a more level playing field, that would absolutely be true.
An interesting point circulating on Facebook is this. Compared to the plight of many other countries, those in the American 99% are in the global 1%.
There is no doubt that across the globe, people are becoming less and less satisfied with inequity and corruption. Social media gives voice to complaint, and becomes a tool to effectively organize.
Here in the US, it’s hard to wrap our brains around the complexities of the problems, the poorly stated and misunderstood demands of the protestors, the dismissive retorts of the politicians, and the mindset-shaping and limited coverage by the media.
What we need is an intelligent and thoughtful overhaul of our entire financial and governmental systems without abandoning the ideals of free enterprise that have made the US a land of opportunity. But it’s hard to put that on a placard and march with it.
Here in Florida, civics is a required course of study in the public schools, even at the Middle School level. Yet, our local middle school has not taken advantage of these events as a prime teachable moment, and my middle schooler is shocked when I tell her that civil disobedience is not only a right, but also a responsibility, of the American people.
My metaphysical friends are sure that these waves of protest are a sign of the 2012 shift. They believe that the vibrational level of the planet is being raised to create, or make way for, the new paradigm.
I truly hope so.
I remember marching with my friends under a banner that read “Pagans for Peace.” It was the end of the day, and we were cold and tired. We had been chanting all day, waving broccoli in the air as a sign of contempt for the first Bush administration. We sang inspired, clever chants; “Send George Bush, send Dan Quayle, send Neil Bush when he gets out of jail.” Finally, someone started a chant that expressed how we really felt; “We’re hungry, we’re tired, we don’t like the government.” Somehow, that expresses the energy I feel from the Occupy movement right now.
No one should doubt that a dedicated grassroots movement could change the face of a nation. It has before, and it will again.
Most of us feel that somewhere, somehow, change needs to come, and the “change” we voted for in 2008 might be too little, too late.
But if the occupation of Wall Street and beyond is going to fulfill its mission, it needs to occupy itself with the tasks of better messaging, better focus, and better media coverage.