Occupy Wall Street: Practicing American Principles

by on March 7th, 2011
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The Occupy Wall Street protests have been growing in number and level of coverage. Reports of arrests and other scuffles abound, with stories of clashes with police, illicit drug use, and sexual assault. Criticisms of the movement itself are all over the place as well, some of it legitimate, and some of it unwarranted. Much of the criticism leveled at these folks has been demeaning, ridiculing, and sometimes downright insulting.

Say what you want about them, but the Occupy Wall Street protesters and their many fellow demonstrators around the country and abroad are practicing the very principles that this country was founded upon. There has been much said both in favor of and against this rapidly spreading movement and I have a difficult time understanding why anyone would be so against them.

The biggest gripe against the movement has been that they have no clarity, no focus in what they do. Critics see them as just a bunch of lazy whiners who want the government to pick up the pieces of their useless lives, and perhaps the corporations to begin giving handouts to them for a change. Well, I don’t think that this is true at all, at least not for the majority of the so-called 99%.

Many of the protesters are everyday people like you and I, college-educated people, blue collar people, students, and yes, perhaps some slackers and troublemakers , but all of them are living through the hugely unlevel playing field we’ve all been living in which has driven a huge wedge in between the haves and the have-nots. As a hardworking American who struggles daily just to keep my head above water, I totally understand where they are coming from, for I feel the ever-tightening pinch of corporate America every single day.

Of course, solutions are virtually impossible to foresee, as perhaps the global world order has gone too far into its new state of being. The issues, to the protesters and to me, are all interconnected, a huge conglomeration of messes where solutions seem so simple yet so difficult to attain. Maybe a clear agenda is not reachable at this moment in time, but at least they’ve got people talking more about the problems we all face as a country, and as members of a global community.

A friend of mine recently posted a link to his Facebook page about the movement. The link was entitled Declaration of the Occupation of New York City, and you can find it right here. The page is a statement of the Occupy Wall Street purpose. It was accepted by the New York City General Assembly on September 29th, 2011. The declaration begins with this:

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.

The list of grievances follows and there is not a one I do not agree with, though discussing them here does not suit the purposes of this article. To the critics and the detractors I say go ahead and believe what you want about the people who are exercising their rights by going out into the streets and letting their voices be heard, but you cannot criticize their right to do so. Isn’t what they’re doing something you should be proud of as an American?

Not surprisingly, the majority of critics comes from the right side of the political aisle, a good number of them who said the very same things about the Tea Party Protesters that I am saying today about Occupy Wall Street movement. The majority of criticisms, from what I’ve seen and read, have been on the side of personal insults and a critiquing of their end-game strategy, or lack of one. I haven’t heard any good, solid arguments against any of the specific grievances they’ve got against corporations and their relationships with the government.

Whether anyone likes it or not, corporations, by their very nature, have more of the ear of the government than do we, the people. The bottom line, of course, is money. These folks getting out there come from all walks of life and they are trying to do something about a situation that they see as an emergency. No one’s fixed this massive economic crisis yet, so what if they don’t have a set agenda at this time. They’ve got people talking, and paying attention, and that’s a great place to start. It’s better than doing nothing!


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