I don’t normally delve into politics, especially not on this light-hearted blog, but I refuse to remain silent about the current Occupation of Wall Street and other cities around the U.S. and the world.
Last week, literally days before I first heard about the OWS movement, I was discussing the economy with my husband and comparing it to a game of Jenga; supporting pieces of our nation’s financial system were being removed one by one by people trying to build the stack as high as they could. The farming industry, the dairy industry, schools and manufacturing – all vital and indispensable pieces of our day-to-day lives – are no longer profitable occupations. They haven’t been for years. But farmers keep farming, and teachers keep teaching, because they know that without them there would be no nation. I opined at that time that the Jenga stack was going to fall eventually.
Little did I know that it was already teetering on the brink. For nearly four weeks, the Occupy Wall Street movement has been growing in numbers and support. I don’t blame the media for my previous ignorance. I could, but that wouldn’t be fair, as I don’t watch television and I avoid news websites as if they were a deadly plague (some of them are, with their pornographic advertisements and gossip-riddled headlines). However, it has come to my attention that many of you out there are being left in ignorance or deliberately misguided by media corporations which stand to lose as protests grow.
If you want to know what the OWS is doing, watch us. If you want to find out what we are demanding, ask us. Don’t rely on your local news station, because many of them are ignoring the issues. Don’t believe the politicians who claim sudden empathy because they’ve realized we’re not going away – many of them accept of billions of dollars in campaign funds from people who like things they way they are. Prove to them that you’re not sheep by researching their stands on the issues, their sponsors, and most importantly their voting records yourselves.
Some – most – of our detractors are frightened because they realize that what we are demanding is some pretty serious change. Well I’m frightened too. I know that in between this American Autumn and the anticipated Spring there must and will be a Winter. But I am more frightened about what will happen to our nation if we ignore the growing corruption at our head. When your doctor says you have a tumor, you cut it out, even though you know it will hurt. You don’t watch in morbid fascination while it devours your entire body. Neither can we sit and watch anymore while politicians make policy based on the demands of the people who paid them into power instead of the ones who voted them there.
That’s not democracy. What democracy is, literally, is the people (demos) raising their voices and acting. While we stand silent, 9% of our workforce is officially unemployed. While we stand silent, another 9% are either underemployed – meaning they want full-time work but receive only part-time wages – or are no longer included in the official count because they have stopped looking for jobs that aren’t there. Let’s put a face to those numbers. A total of 18% of Americans without jobs means that one in five of your friends, one in five of your neighbors, and one in five of your family members can’t afford rent, clothing, or food for themselves and their children. One. In. Five.
I don’t care who you think is to blame for it; that is unacceptable.
If you think that you can’t do anything about it, you’re wrong. If you think that nobody can hear your voice, think again. When you stand there, shouting in unison with a thousand others, ten thousand, a million, it doesn’t matter whether they can pick your voice from the crowd; they have already heard you.
It’s time to stand up and shout.