When I first heard about the Occupy movement I was ecstatic. Finally, after years of hiding in our bedrooms and complaining on blogs like this one, real people were doing real things to make a difference. The protest renewed my faith in the system, in people’s desire to seek change. As I watched the camped out activists, I was reminded of the Vietnam protests and the massive movements in the 60s and 70s, the picketers fighting against injustice and the establishment.
The only thing is, in this case, I’m not certain anyone is sure what the Occupy movement is trying to achieve.
If people are gathering in the name of a cause, or even several causes, great. We’re legally allowed to gather in protest in the constitution. But what exactly is the goal of the Occupy movement?
Call it Occupy Wall Street if you like, but the celebrities we worship and politicians we voted into office make up most of the population of people we are protesting against. The big businesses are the only things left in America that still provide jobs. There are no small town businesses left that have survived the oil, fast food, media and factory farming rampage. Every town has a Shell or BP gas station, a MacDonald and good old cable television. 99% of your options have been systematically destroyed so that when someone asks you what you want you think “do I want Chinese or Mexican for dinner?”.
Even inside the system we can tell something is wrong. Politicians spin fantasies to win us over. They create imaginary insignificant gossips and enemies to distract from the subtly squeezing hands around our necks. This is not a system that can be changed by protest. Those in power tend not to bow to the masses, even if it is to their advantage. They will simply lie about it and do what they want anyways.
They have created a generation that is easily distracted and quickly bored. Today the Occupy movement is news, but when the country stops caring, will the people go home? What must happen for the movement to have worked? I know we will say that if the top 1% taxes are raised and enforced that it will change something, and fix the economy, but are we really satisfied with giving more money to the government that has forsaken us? Perhaps the money will go back into financing socialized healthcare and welfare and school programs, but as far as the budget is concerned that money would just serve to finance yet another needless war. Will it improve the environment, or lessen corruption, or give the people any more power than that which our corporate overlords allow us to have?
The system is broken, and we have taken a step in the right direction. The people stand together, but our voices are many and easily drowned out or silenced. We are organized without a direction, standing together without any purpose other than rage and frustration. We are like frightened sheep, bleating around in our pens. How wonderful would it be if someone could focus the strength of this new arm into a fist? How much change could we do if together we do more than just speak our minds, but fight, break down the walls of a system that has decided that we can be controlled and openly lied to? How many of us are brave enough to fight for a future where no man can say he deserves his riches any more than his neighbor?
People call it a class war, but no one really seems to know who to fight. Make no mistake, the lords and ladies and kings and queens did not die out in America. They sit upon their thrones and pass the power and corruption on to their heirs like so many families have done for hundreds of years. They consider themselves noble, better than the common man. They are not satisfied with anything less than amassing more money than they could spend in a lifetime, and they do not live in the world we do.
They could not hope to understand what it is like to watch your children raised around drug dealers and taught how to live from Wal-mart paychecks to feed the kids they had at 14 because state funded middle America doesn’t teach basic sex education. They can’t know what it’s like to die alone in a hospital, not because there is no cure but because you have no insurance.They can’t understand how honest hardworking people can be poor and homeless and need any help they can get, because nothing in their lives was ever fair.
Life for the rich is a walk in the sunshine: friends are plentiful, opportunities grow like weeds, and ordinary people look like tiny ants from the tops of private jets and skyscrapers. The CEOs and private billionaires don’t know what poverty is. We can’t expect change from the politicians with their gold lined pockets or the businesses that pay them, or the media that tells us what they want us to believe. We can’t expect handouts because the government is done giving them, and we can’t expect to change anything by staying within the neat little boxes they make to keep us in line.
My main question is this: Do we need a protest or a REVOLUTION? Car mechanics have a term for it: totaled. In a situation beyond repair, there’s just not enough left that works properly anymore. You can sell the parts for scraps, or perhaps take working bits off other cars and build yourself a new machine, but broken things aren’t just going to fix themselves. We need a new car. We need a new system. And we can’t just sit back and expect the old one to suddenly fix itself.