Occupy Wall Street. The action that began as a rather small gathering of activists on a street corner in two short weeks has snowballed into a movement encompassing more than 430 (and counting, according to occupytogether.org) cities nationwide. That small crowd on Wall Street in New York spread to a mass group large enough to block part of the Brooklyn Bridge and result in 700 arrests. Regardless of dissenting sentiments about the particulars of the action, it is hard to make a case that the Occupy Wall Street action and its subsequent offshoots springing up literally every day are anything but an incredibly positive and inspiring thing for the American people.
In a country that has been plagued by misguided bipartisanship, we are, and have been for many years now, in desperate need of something that surmounts party lines and quite literally brings us together. And Occupy Wall Street has done just that.
The sheer quantity of individuals in the mobilization shows the American people feel like there is something worth fighting for.
The beauty of the movement resides largely in the notion of movement itself — in part because one of the many complaints about “this generation” has been the pervasiveness of apathy — but also in the symbolic weight that the varied and vast complaints the protesters are voicing.
The quantity of issues the action is choosing to target illustrates not a lack of communication, for those on Wall Street have devised an innovative and accurate method of communication by repeating each line of a given speaker throughout the crowd; not a lack of organization, for the movement spread from coast to coast in 11 days; and not a lack of coherence, for a common language marries these actions, as each cities’ action is called Occupy [insert city here] and the common language being used to spread the movement like wildfire is online networking.
The quantity of issues illustrates the impressive nature of the actions as movements truly for the people and by the people. We as a nation are hurting, for many reasons, so why should we not call attention to this fact? It is interesting that the main fixture of the mass media outlets like The New York Times and Fox News has been to criticize the movement’s lack of coherent goals, when the same broadcasters spend their entire news segments griping about a seemingly endless inventory of flaws in our government and economy. It is a well-established fact for all people of this country that we have problems. This incredibly short-sighted view on the movements is, quite frankly, bafflingly short-sighted.
This is not a protest on a war, this is a protest calling attention to the war we are engaged in. This is not simply an ambiguous protest condemning class divisions, this is a protest against the fact that 1 percent of this nation owns all of the wealth and the middle class is dying. It is not a protest against our citizens not having enough wealth, but an action calling attention to the inequitable and corrupt distribution (so enough about the protesters’ Apple laptops). It is not a protest against the free market, but calling out the corrupt nature of how that wealth was accrued.
And though the protests are broad in their focus, at least they are focused on the economy. This was a feat our own legislature could not accomplish when they put the nearly 10 percent unemployment level and failing economy on the back burner and instead focused on issues like abortion to distract the American people and capitalize on the atmosphere of anger and fear. The issues the legislature was supposed to focus on — the housing market crisis, unemployment, Wall Street corruption, the disappearing middle class, accountability for the greed-driven market and the failure of the banks — are, ironically, the central fixtures the Occupy Wall Street and following movements are honing in on.
On the website that serves as a hub for information regarding details about the national movement, the list of goals is basically a list of what, had our legislature been doing their job, would have been the political sticking points for the past two years.
An incredibly educated, innovative populace of young people has been, year after year, released into the world with no job market to enter into and college debt so huge, money begins to mean nothing. And what does this mean? An incredibly viable and threatening force to be reckoned with. This movement has been characterized by the production of short videos and blog entries that are basically marketing a movement. That is ingenious. This is a group literate in a language of new media, and took off at lightning speed utilizing almost exclusively social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter and various online forums like Reddit and Adbusters. Mass media coverage certainly was not the source of knowledge spreading.
You have an incredibly smart generation of individuals who have been told to get an education, and they have. They have been charged exorbitant amounts of money for that education and are now paying off loans they are drowning in, all to be cast into a job market that cannot sustain them — beyond that, a market actually forcing them to foot the bill with money they don’t have.
Each of the facets of the actions can be seen in Santa Cruz County, where unemployment is slightly over 10 percent and the university has seen a $4,000 rise in tuition in less than four years. From coast to coast, the principles of the unrest remain, give or take, the same.
The movement has spread to our neighborhood. Occupy Santa Cruz’s Facebook page has nearly 2,000 likes. Considering the population of Santa Cruz is only 55,000, that figure speaks volumes. This movement, whose most popular creed is “we are the 99 percent,” represents the majority of people. This nation is something to be defended, and when the movement is brought to a town like Santa Cruz’s front door, it is safe to say that involvement is necessitated.
The movement has incredible initial momentum. Unfortunately, however, a huge detraction from the movement is the fear of being arrested. There is no more poignant gesture than being arrested for a cause, for it directly symbolizes the sentiment of one’s position. Being arrested captures the essence of a cause. It represents a microcosm of the larger movement. Civil disobedience effects change. This has been said and demonstrated in the history of revolutions, and how could this particular uprising be exempt?