When I first heard about Occupy Wall Street, I hemmed and hawed for days about whether I should get involved. While I might seem like a bleeding-heart lefty crazy to some people, I’m mostly pretty moderate. Liberal, for sure (very liberal, depending on the issue), but I generally don’t give opinions on any issue based on one platform or another. Whenever I’ve seen globalization protests before, I was always all “Great. Everything is wrong. What’s this going to do about it?”
A lot of you haven’t even heard about Occupy Wall Street. I was surprised to find out today that a friend didn’t really know about what OWS or Occupy L.A. was save for my posts on Facebook. Mainstream media is doing a great job of either not giving the occupation attention at all, or making it look like it’s just a fringe thing run by dirty hippies. The truth is, it’s not a fringe movement. As you can see over at Occupy Together, it’s everywhere, and people from all walks of life, in all sorts of financial circumstances all over the world are involved. You may have heard about the revolutions in Tunisia, in Egypt, the protests in the UK…this is a natural progression and extension of those things. Average, normal, hard-working people the world over are pissed. And for the first time in a long time, they’re voicing that anger en masse.
The biggest criticism of the occupation so far – in addition to the fact that protesters could stand to present themselves a bit better – is that there’s been no clear “goal.” What’s the goal of this protest? What’s the desired effect of the occupation? When will it be over? (because everyone would like to get back to their regularly scheduled apathy, thankyouverymuch) Today, OWS released an agreed-upon statement of goals. All of which are valid and worthwhile. Still, it had the feeling of trying to appease detractors.
The thing is, to ask “what’s the goal?”; to withhold your involvement until you hear a specific goal that would solve all the problems caused by our government and the corporations who run it is to miss the real goal of the occupation entirely.
Today, a photo is going around FB, a screencap of the New York Times website where you see two different versions – 20 mins apart – of their post about the recent arrest of 700-800 people at the Brooklyn Bridge. The first version reports that protesters were allowed onto the bridge by police only to be penned in and arrested. 20 mins later, the wording of the article changed, making it sound like the people weren’t allowed on the bridge in the first place, and calling it a “tense showdown” between the people and police. Now, I wasn’t there, but the reports I’m getting from people who were there is that there was no “tense showdown.” First, the people thought they were able to protest there, then they were getting arrested.
I bring this up, because it’s the kind of thing that happens all the time. Media, kowtowing to corporate pressure, alters things just slightly enough so that, if you’re not paying attention, you don’t notice. Corporate America’s hold on us is so insidious, that things that are truly protected by the Constitution – like freedom of the press – are compromised. And no one questions it. And regardless of where you stand on the political spectrum, these are things that should always be questioned.
What’s the goal of the occupation? To make average people care - not just the intellectual elite, not just the rich. Everyone - to make them aware, and make them act. Occupation is just the first of a million steps that needs to be taken to solve the problems we face. But this is the first time in a long time that the whole world is awake and complaining. Now is the time to take advantage of the momentum by adding your voice. How long will the occupation go on?
As long as it takes for you, and you, and YOU, and especially you, to care enough to join in and do something.
The way I see it, this occupation is about making the average person see things the way they are, and not simply swallow the things they’ve been told. It’s about lifting us all out of apathy. It’s about shaking us awake enough to ask questions and not just accept that the 9-5 cubicle grind, credit scores, and massive interest is the way it is. Asking us for specific solutions to these complex problems is a diversionary tactic. It’s not our job to come up with these solutions. We vote for people to do this work for us. To represent us. We vote for people supposedly better-suited to solve these problems to do that, and protect us. Asking us to solve these problems is silly, because what we’re asking for is for our government to do their job! It is their job to protect us from corporate interests. We should not be forced to protect ourselves individually. If that were the case, there’s no point to government at all. They have not been doing their job. Governments the world over have stopped doing their job, and this occupation is about reminding them what their job is, and to whom they are truly beholden. This is why, right now, numbers are important. Noise is important. That is the goal. To inspire our other to learn and act and get involved, and to use one strong voice to remind goverment of their job.
So, this occupation will end when YOU’RE involved.
Tonight, I’m going to camp out with some friends at Occupy L.A. I don’t camp out lightly. If you want to look into the movement, check out the following websites:
Occupy Together (a central hub for all the cities involved worldwide)
Look into it. Even if you can’t be a physical presence, you can make your support known in other ways. Send necessary supplies to those camping out. Write about it. Talk about it with your friends. Attack your social media platforms with information, links, pictures and posts. The media isn’t reporting the whole story. It’s up to us to spread the message.
And it’s worth it. Because I’m tired of hearing, Well, that’s just the way it is. That answer just isn’t good enough anymore.
Why am I Occupying L.A? Because it isn’t just me. It isn’t just L.A. It isn’t even just the United States. It’s the whole world. If you believe the world can and should be better – you’re not alone! It’s not about politics. It’s about people like us.