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Musings: We Are The 99 Percent…

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“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

Musings: We Are The 99 Percent... A protester holds up a 'We are the 99%' sign

Musings: We Are The 99 Percent... Occupy Wall St camp at Zuccotti Park

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.

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

Musings: We Are The 99 Percent... Protesters hold assembly

Musings: We Are The 99 Percent... Plaza at Zuccotti Park

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

Musings: We Are The 99 Percent... Protesters listening at a meeting...

Musings: We Are The 99 Percent... A protest group in the 1800s...

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.

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

Until Next Time…
Ask. Believe. Receive. ©
Elizabeth Obih-Frank
Mirth and Motivation
Positive Kismet

53 Comments leave one →
  1. 17/10/2011 9:52 pm

    Interesting post. It reminds me of some of the disillusionment in the 1970’s and the war in Vietnam. I think it is a positive thing that people are motivated to see change.


    • 19/10/2011 2:24 pm

      Yes, I read about the Vietnam war and there might be some reminders in the demonstrations but this one is quite unique in that there is no real end in sight; how does the govt address the concerns? Peace to OWS! TY! 🙂

  2. 17/10/2011 10:07 pm

    This is a great Post and it was well thought out. Thanks! Some good must come out of it and I will take that part of it.

    • 19/10/2011 2:26 pm

      I pray that good comes out it too and that it ends on a peaceful note. I know that today, some OWS protestors were sitting in the rain and saying “we are here for the long haul…” I don’t know. What happens when people start to get sick and the temps drop…. I pray for good to come. TY! 🙂

  3. 17/10/2011 10:38 pm

    “It takes a lot of courage
    to release the familiar and seemingly secure,
    to embrace the new…”

    • 19/10/2011 2:27 pm

      Yes, it takes courage to do anything substantive. We could all use it sometime. TY! 🙂

  4. 18/10/2011 12:52 am

    As an Australian it’s difficult to comprehend the American economy and I know from conversations with my American friends that it’s difficult for them to feel comfortable with the socialist philosophy at the backbone of ours.
    Our education is paid for right up until university where interest free loans are given which only need to be paid back once a person is on a good wage. Our health care is free and while waiting lists can be long, no one dies because insurance didn’t cover their costs. The arts are supported by loads of government initiatives. One of our most popular radio stations is an ad-free, national station that exposes lots of our own artists and is known for it’s challenging of the very government that funds it. Unemployment, aged and disability benefits are available to everyone who needs them and there are few homeless people.
    What’s the cost of this? High taxes, that as a decent wage earner, I pay.
    Do I care? Nope.
    Because what joy could exist in being the 1% when my fellow Austrailians go hungry? We are the 100%, we take of our own.
    Take a voice America, let it be heard. Never allow injustice to be silent. But consider that at the end of the day the 99% will need to change their mindset as much as the 1%, because Capatilism, like Communism only works in a world without greed and corruption.

    • 18/10/2011 9:56 am

      Here! Here! This was brilliant.

      • 19/10/2011 2:34 pm

        Yes, I enjoyed reading it and gladly approved it. TY! 🙂

    • 19/10/2011 2:33 pm

      TY Jezzmindah for your passionate and informative response. My friends in Sweden and other countries where high income taxes = full services for all will agree with you. I don’t have a problem with extra taxes if they are equitable and provide for all in the way you mention.
      Unfortunately, greed and corruption cannot be legislated and so it will be something to regularly check for. My heart still breaks for us all. We have a long way to go here… TY! 🙂

  5. 18/10/2011 3:56 am

    Thank you for your well-written post. You expressed wonderfully what I would have said. Here in Chicago, 150 occupy protesters were carted off to jail for camping in Grant Park overnight. I pray for a peaceful resolution that involves change and improved circumstances for us who are the 99%.

    • 19/10/2011 2:36 pm

      TY Natalie, What worries me is that as time passes, law enforcement might no longer be patient with them. I wont want anyone to become a martyr for the cause… Peace, peace, peace… TY! 🙂

  6. 18/10/2011 7:11 am

    Excellent post, E!

    My thoughts:

    • 19/10/2011 2:37 pm

      Fantastic Nancy, and I did read that post you wrote. TY! 🙂

  7. 18/10/2011 8:25 am

    Yes this is a great post. we have these protesters in London. They get a bit of news coverage but ,as yet, it doesn’t look like the start of a mass movement or anything resembling the protests against the Vietnam or Irag wars. still, you never know

    • 19/10/2011 2:39 pm

      Right Peter, You never know and quite frankly, I’d like for them to not go that Vietnam or Iran war route… I’d love to see a peaceful resolution to it all. TY! 🙂

  8. Bree permalink
    18/10/2011 8:27 am

    Thank you for writing a balanced post that looks at the efforts of the group.
    Some people say nothing because they hope they will go away or because they see it as not affecting their lives. However, ultimately we will all be affected if the downward trend continues.
    It is a shame that people see this as politics. It is about people first; about us.

    • 19/10/2011 2:41 pm

      Yes, until some feel the pain directly, it doesn’t exist… that is human nature and that is life… TY! 🙂

  9. 18/10/2011 9:59 am

    I am definitely one of the 99%. I applaud this movement and truly hope it keeps growing and becomes a bit louder. We have become so ridiculously out of sync it’s frightening. I am very curious to see how this plays out over the coming political year. It’s already ugly but we know who ‘gets it’ and who doesn’t.
    Great post!

    • 19/10/2011 2:44 pm

      You want it louder Barb!? Someone could lose their life if things erupt into violence… I want them to continue in the vein of non-violence and that solutions be found… We will all see it play itself out and that is a testament to the power of collective action. We are the 99% and I’m grateful that a glaring light is being shone on the subject. TY! 🙂

  10. 18/10/2011 10:47 am

    I love your concluding tip. Yes!

    • 19/10/2011 2:45 pm

      Some good must come out of it… and I pray for negotiations too. TY! 🙂

  11. 18/10/2011 10:49 am

    What is the the question I ask..the groups have garnered attention but I wonder what impact they desire? Peaceful demonstration can bring about change..I am just not sure how. It will be interesting to see.

    • 19/10/2011 2:47 pm

      Yes, it will be interesting to see how it plays out… I remain optimistic. TY! 🙂

  12. 18/10/2011 6:55 pm

    A very nice blog! I love the quotes, very good photos (the diversity of demonstrators listening struck me – old and young etc). I see on various blogs etc comments from people from other countries talking about the U.S. as if they are some peculiar species of government/people with their own weird problems, and Oh well, we’re all right over here in… Wherever. I think we can all find something to relate to, here. No room for complacency.
    To the commentator above: I’ve been to Australia, I have family there and I think it’s a lovely country. But, are aborigines included in the 100 per cent? What about immigrants (oh no, they get put in camps, or the government tried to ship them off to Malaysia the other day I believe). Nice “socialist philosophy” as is claimed above!
    Nowhere is perfect, is what I am saying. And we are all human beings. There is a lot we can learn from each other.

    • 19/10/2011 2:52 pm

      Yes , the great thing that is coming of this is that people around the world are adding their voices to the struggle. Yes, you are quite right, there are problems everywhere, but the fact that people are rallying around the cause is a great thing. That said, equitable distribution remains our global society’s biggest obstacle… read reluctance of the haves to share… everywhere! Nowhere is perfect… There is a lot we can learn from each other. I hear you. TY! 🙂

  13. 18/10/2011 9:34 pm

    I am part of the 99% in spirit. I would have loved to been there in NYC when it started. You took some great photos Eliz.

    • 19/10/2011 2:56 pm

      TY Miriam, the photos are credited above as they belong to Caroline Schiff Photography, on Flickr and are not mine. I am impressed by the collective community spirit thriving down at the park… I pray all remember the camaraderie in the aftermath. TY! 🙂

  14. Rose Casanova permalink
    19/10/2011 5:07 am

    I think the 99% lacks a spokesperson. I think that job needs to be filled. Any takers?

    • 19/10/2011 2:59 pm

      Would you like to volunteer? Interestingly, in other movements I studied in history, either a natural leader emerged or one was designated pretty early in the game. They have been adamant about keeping it leaderless; it is deliberate… However, over time it will be necessary to have a leader or 2-3 as things become unwieldy. TY! 🙂

  15. 19/10/2011 3:07 pm

    Impermanence is one of the essential doctrines in Buddhism. The term expresses the Buddhist notion that all of conditioned existence, without exception, is in a constant state of flux.

    With awareness, belief and action toward something bigger, impermanence can be accelerated into change…. that’s the crossroads as a country we face now. Are we willing to accept the friction and discomfort of real change?

    • 21/10/2011 1:13 pm

      You ask a great question and it is one I ask too. With change comes what Alinsky above calls the “abrasive friction of conflict.” We are, like many nations in the world, at a crossroads. I don’t want to see anyone martyred for the cause. I pray for peaceful resolution, job creation, and equity… TY! 😉

  16. 19/10/2011 8:07 pm

    I am so happy to see folks out in the streets protesting the massive shift in our democracy. We must make our “little” voices known to the powers that be, most notably a do nothing, party of no congress. Does anyone out here listen to some of the heartless views and actions of some politICians on CSPAN? Finally, we are coming together as Americans to protest the out of control power wielded by corporations and extreme capitalists.

    I know my next comment may frighten some of you, but don’t be intimidated by my reading suggestion. Reread or read for the first time The Communist Manifesto. I think you will be amazed at the foresight of Marx and Engels, the coauthors who wrote The Manifesto in the beginning stages of European industrialism. Challenge your outlook and dare to compare their predictions to our times right now

    • 21/10/2011 1:19 pm

      TY Dot, I agree that it is a good thing that the 99% people are finally speaking up. That is the nature of life in a democracy… We need to see the faces and hear the voices of the people…. and for the most part, it has been peaceful.
      Yes, I can imagine the vitriol in certain circles; it is sad how people lose compassion when it is not happening in their backyard…
      As for Marx and Engels, you didn’t frighten anyone, many of us read the text in college or elsewhere…. TY for your comment! 🙂

  17. 20/10/2011 4:26 am

    I like the concept of the people speaking up. As I am not American or in America, I am not going to comment on the conditions that led to this, but I am glad to see to the people standing up for themselves.

    • 21/10/2011 1:20 pm

      Ditto! If the people don’t speak up, they perish… we all eventually perish. TY! 😉

  18. 20/10/2011 10:34 am

    As everyone is entitled to their opinion I’m nervous I might get some backlash on this comment. I am completley against this movement. I defintaley fall into the catagories of the 99 percent and I’m all for freedom of speech but I feel like this movement is only helping to hold back the economy. New York alone had to spend 2 million dollars in tax payers dollars just to pay their police overtime to keep the crowds safe and under control. Honestly, I also don’t undestand what they are looking to get out of this. Instead of looking for jobs and being active in the economy these people are occupying areas all over the U.S expecting things to magically get fixed.I pass “Occupy Seattle” everyday on my way to work – most of the people protesting kids my age (I’m 21) who look like they’re joining that cause just “cuz”

    I don’t mean to offend anyone – just my opinion.

    • 21/10/2011 12:47 pm

      Hi Linda,
      I hear you and understand how you feel… however, the protestors are not holding back the economy. With over 14 million people unemployed today, it is matter of supply and demand economics not what a group of protestors are doing. You say you fall into the 99% category, I take it as an underemployed person?, yet you are against them speaking up about the inequalities? What the OWS protestors are doing is to bring global attention to the economic challenges that exist in society and to initiate a dialogue about these issues. They have been extremely successful highlighting the issues and getting people everywhere, globally too, to think and talk about them; that is one thing they are getting out of it. Then, they want the issues addressed by our Government. As per the people protesting in Seattle, I would hesitate to question their motivations. It might not hurt to ask first. Another suggestion I would make is to invite you to read the submissions on the We are the 99% website. If you were unemployed, and had been looking for a job for over a year or longer, would you think differently about the movement? I hope that, one day, you will rethink your position… Thank you for your comment! No offense taken. 😉
      Check out the comments on that Daily News post about the cost…

  19. 26/10/2011 2:14 pm

    I passed by before I left. Watching it with interest to see where it goes, what concrete demands they are making/will make/have on the elections next year, whether they will be hijacked by the lunatic fringe.
    Got this yesterday. Like most things that get passed around, no author is identified but it made me think.

    After The 8 Years Of The Bush/Cheney Disaster, Now You Get Mad?

    You didn’t get mad when the Supreme Court stopped a legal recount and appointed a President.

    You didn’t get mad when Cheney allowed Energy company officials to dictate Energy policy and push us to invade Iraq.
    You didn’t get mad when a covert CIA operative got outed.
    You didn’t get mad when the Patriot Act got passed.

    You didn’t get mad when we illegally invaded a country that posed no threat to us.

    You didn’t get mad when we spent over 800 billion (and counting) on said illegal war.

    You didn’t get mad when Bush borrowed more money from foreign sources than the previous 42 Presidents combined.

    You didn’t get mad when over 10 billion dollars in cash just disappeared in Iraq.

    You didn’t get mad when you found out we were torturing people.

    You didn’t get mad when Bush embraced trade and outsourcing policies that shipped 6 million American jobs out of the country.

    You didn’t get mad when the government was illegally wiretapping Americans.

    You didn’t get mad when we didn’t catch Bin Laden.

    You didn’t get mad when Bush rang up 10 trillion dollars in combined budget and current account deficits.

    You didn’t get mad when you saw the horrible conditions at Walter Reed.

    You didn’t get mad when we let a major US city, New Orleans, drown.

    You didn’t get mad when we gave people who had more money than they could spend, the filthy rich, over a trillion dollars in tax breaks.

    You didn’t get mad with the worst 8 years of job creations in several decades.

    You didn’t get mad when over 200,000 US Citizens lost their lives because they had no health insurance.

    You didn’t get mad when lack of oversight and regulations from the Bush Administration caused US Citizens to lose 12 trillion dollars in investments, retirement, and home values.
    You finally got mad when a black man was elected President and decided that people in America deserved the right to see a doctor if they are sick. Yes, illegal wars, lies, corruption, torture, job losses by the millions, stealing your tax dollars to make the rich richer, and the worst economic disaster since 1929 are all okay with you, but helping fellow Americans who are sick…Oh, Hell No!!

    • 26/10/2011 3:55 pm

      Well, that’s quite a list and it REALLY makes you wonder! It’s not at all logical… At one level I just don’t get the protest movement. I am going to tweet and share this! Great stuff.

      • 30/12/2011 5:42 pm

        TY! I agree that the saddest part of this is those who want them gone…

    • 30/12/2011 5:41 pm

      How did I miss this comment? Yes, you said it all… and I’m still shaking my head at the sadness of it all. 🙁 TY!

  20. 31/10/2011 9:15 am

    Excellent post, Elizabeth. I am behind in my blog-reading, as usual, so I’m just now getting to this. Glad I read it, and the comments, too. Very insightful.

  21. 17/11/2011 12:44 pm

    Hey, I am also writing a blog on the 99% movement, Do you mind if I use two of your photos?

    • 17/11/2011 8:01 pm

      Hi there,
      Sure, you can use them and give credit to the owners. I have a photo credits/attributions list at the bottom of each blog post. I identify and add links to the original source. Thanks for stopping by. Will return the visit soon. 🙂


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