Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Occupy Wall Street -- Visiting the Protest

Last weekend I had a wedding outside of Manhattan. I was lucky enough to get one day before the wedding in the city.  And one of the guys I was staying with kept talking about these protests at Wall Street -- which, I am embarrassed to admit, I knew nothing about. (It never ceases to amaze me just how small I can allow my world to get!)

So, before heading off to this wedding I took a wander down to the site where the core group is staying. It's just a little park pretty much in the shadow of the new World Trade Center building.  You could walk its circumference in maybe 5 minutes -- really, it's that small. Far tinier around than a city block. 

And upon arriving I can't say I knew what to do with the whole thing. It really looked like a bunch of homeless kids who had camped out. There are sleeping bags, food and trash sort of all over the place, and a lot of grungy looking people playing music or sitting around chatting. 

The thing is, the longer I stayed there, reading the signs protestors had written on cardboard and laid on the sidewalk, the more I felt again my own frustrations -- the rampant profiteering of the banks in the midst of a crisis they had caused; the lack of adequate financial oversight even now; wealthy people who don't want to pay taxes; corrupt politicians, lobbyists, etc. And I thought of that line from Network: "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it." 

That's where I think a lot of us are.  It's not really different than the engine behind the Tea Party; it's just that rather than place the blame on big government, these new protestors -- who call themselves "the 99%" -- cast their attention first not upon the government but upon the banking system and rich elite. And as chaotic and sort of commune-like as the whole thing feels, there's something really good and positive going on down there.  If you live in New York, or anywhere that they're doing protests (they're in many places in the US and even abroad now), I highly recommend spending an hour with them. You'll meet nice people from literally very walk of life, and you'll find your own perspective challenged, as well. 

Over the next few days I'm going to post some of my photos from down there.  May they feed your own passion for a better country. 

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