things to think about

today i am thinking about: occupying wall street
October 7, 2011, 12:08 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I marched yesterday as part of Occupy Wall Street. I was trying to think of the last time I was at a march this big – probably the immigration march in 2007 or so. It poured down Broadway and kept coming and coming; unions, assorted radical organizations, and tons of people who were just SICK OF IT.

I love this protest. I love this occupation of Wall Street. I love this nascent growing community. I love it in a way that is almost irrational; somehow this is cutting past my usual skepticism. There are so many white dreadlocks there! The demands are so poorly defined! And yet I love it.

I love it because of how many people I know who are walking around with their mouths dropped open in anger. We have all been systemically screwed: my friend’s parents, who lose their entire retirement savings due to the greed of some Wall Street bankers; the tons of people I know who are looking for work and can’t find any, or can’t find enough; those of us who are lucky enough to have jobs and still can’t make ends meet. I have a job that I have been at for almost 5 years (!!!) and there have been no raises or cost of living adjustments in 4. My benefits have been systemically slashed. This isn’t even about greed on the part of the management, it’s about simple ability to keep the organization afloat at all.

I have inadvertently turned into one of those people who is very heavy on matters of personal choice. I have no sympathy for people who choose not to work day jobs and are consequently broke. I have no sympathy for people who spend too much and end up in debt. I hold myself to these standards, too – it’s not like I let myself off the hook. I have turned down a lot of things because I was not sure I could afford them. Parts of this really hit buttons for me because who ARE these people who can just take time off, who will sleep on Wall Street, who have nothing better to do than hang out? I am uninterested in anything made up of entitled people who do not take responsibility for their own actions. (Which, ps, describes the 1% pretty nicely!)

But, being down there, I don’t think that’s this. I think this is a space that is trying to do better actively, trying to be as un-racist as possible, trying to make it possible for people to take this space to do good work. I think it’s made up of people who have tried to find jobs and failed; who have jobs and come after work; who are unemployed and underemployed. The lifestyle hippies are there too, but there’s more going on than just that.

My feelings on how the US economy has been going are best articulated by a gurgle of agony and rage and some frantic gesticulation. I feel best about this movement/space/etc because it is making room for all of us who greet the world with this rage and pain to come down and figure out what happens next. There are many steps between a gurgle of agony and rage to a well-articulated mission. But for once, it seems like the space to do that work is actually being held. Here’s to the 99%!


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