“Change means movement. Movement means friction. Only in the frictionless vacuum of a nonexistent abstract world can movement or change occur without that abrasive friction of conflict.” Saul Alinsky
Occupy Wall Street is a people-powered movement that began on September 17, 2011 in Liberty Square in Manhattan’s Financial District, and has spread to over 100 cities in the United States and actions in over 1,500 cities globally. #OWS is fighting back against the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process, and the role of Wall Street in creating an economic collapse that has caused the greatest recession in generations. The movement is inspired by popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, and aims to expose how the richest 1% of people are writing the rules of an unfair global economy that is foreclosing on our future. occupywallst.org
What do you think of the Occupy Wall St movement? Are you one of the 99%? It seems like only yesterday, when a group of about 2000 people gathered in lower Manhattan to voice their discontent about our current economic downturn, and to “protest against bank bailouts, corporate greed, and the unchecked power of Wall Street.” They marched up Broadway, headed for Zuccotti Park where some 150 men and women camped out for the night… Thus began a growing global movement that has highlighted the voices and faces of many who share their personal struggles and stories in “We are the 99%”
Today marks exactly one month since the movement started and many wonder where it is headed. The group, which refers to itself as a leaderless, non-violence, resistance movement, has brought people from all walks of life together to share their stories, and has forced our leadership to pay attention. That is a good thing. So far, there has been minimal friction; thus avoiding what Alinsky above called the “abrasive friction of conflict.” That too is a good thing. However, one must still ask, what’s the next step? How will the group continue to function without a clear leadership?
“All things change, nothing is extinguished. There is nothing in the whole world which is permanent. Everything flows onward; all things are brought into being with a changing nature; the ages themselves glide by in constant movement.” Ovid
When I first read about Occupy Wall Street in the newspapers, I immediately flashed to the groups of demonstrators in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and parts of the Middle East who rallied in protest and demanded a greater democratic process. I wondered: How long will this group last? Will it degenerate into violence? Will their actions bring any solutions? I hoped that, at least, the real and necessary conversation about socioeconomic inequity would be addressed. I worried that while the movement had good intentions, there might be chaos seekers in their midst. (There have been some incidents abroad). As Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Every reform movement has a lunatic fringe.” It doesn’t seem to be the case here. To date, they have maintained a modicum of peace, and participants continue to speak out against social injustice.
“We are getting kicked out of our homes. We are forced to choose between groceries and rent. We are denied quality medical care. We are suffering from environmental pollution. We are working long hours for little pay and no rights, if we’re working at all. We are getting nothing while the other 1 percent is getting everything. We are the 99 percent.”We are the 99%
A compelling outcome of the movement is the growing number of people who publicly identify themselves as one of the 99% of Americans who are struggling. They are Us and we are them… In essence, most of us fit under the rubric of the under-served. We are the 99%. Putting real faces to stories of struggle is a powerful way to highlight the terrible impact our economic condition has had on many of us. According to the We are the 99% website, the 99% include people who are struggling on many different levels; jobless, uninsured, homeless, underemployed, the faces of some of the 14+ million unemployed or underemployed Americans – the new poor.
If you read the submissions on the site, you might be able to relate to or know someone who is grappling with some of the issues and struggles people have shared. I do and on a personal level too. It is deeply disturbing to live in one of the most powerful nations in the world and know that there are citizens who are homeless, have no or inadequate health care, no food, and no jobs. There is definitely something wrong with that picture… More below.
“It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.” Alan Cohen
The Occupy Wall Street group has shown great courage and, while the future of the movement is unclear, it remains a dynamic entity with great potential. As the weather shifts and nerves get frayed, my prayer is that some tangible resolution will be negotiated so the movement members can return to their families and the Park can be reclaimed. The fact that thousands of brave souls gathered together to speak out and bring global attention and support to this cause is commendable.
At some point, negotiations must take place to determine how to move forward and this must happen before winter arrives and the cold temperatures force the crowds to dissipate. The Occupy Wall Street group has shown us how a committed group of people can make us all stop and listen. Again, where do they go from here? What’s the next step? Some good must come out of it… What are your thoughts? What do you think of the Occupy Wall St movement? Are you one of the 99%? Do you think their actions will bring a solution? Do share? Thank you! 🙂
This post was partly inspired by a prompt from WP Daily Post: What’s your opinion of the occupy movement & 99%? Write a post where you give your point of view. Do you think these protests are a good thing? Do you agree with their belief that there’s something wrong?
Positive Motivation Tip: Even if you cannot join a movement, you can form an opinion. Speak fearlessly.
- Occupy Wall Street roundup: Day 31 (dailykos.com)
- Occupy Wall Street | NYC Protest for American Revolution (postamericana.wordpress.com)
- Why Occupy Wall Street is a must (nrhatch.wordpress.com)
- Occupy Wall Street now one month old (politico.com)
- Peter S. Goodman: Occupy Wall Street Is A Renaissance, Not A Revolution (huffingtonpost.com)
- What is your opinion of occupy Wall Street and the 99 percenters (laurieanichols.wordpress.com)
- Letters: Sunday Dialogue: The Wall Street Protest (nytimes.com)
PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS: All Photos Zuccotti Park Plaza, Protesters on 1800s, via Wikipedia. Protester with sign, OWS protesters general assembly, Zuccotti Park campers Protesters Listening, by Caroline Schiff Photography, on Flickr