Thursday, November 10, 2011

Briefly Marching With OWS

Katie and I were in Tucson a few weeks ago for the Tucson Meet Yourself Folk Life Festival. After I performed with the Chinese Martial Arts Club, we walked around to take in the rest of the Festival. We ran across the “Occupy Wall Street” protesters who were marching through the streets of Tucson, so we joined them. I didn’t know much about the movement at the time. We thought it had something to do with the rich getting too rich and too powerful in this country and influencing our politicians too much. We agreed with that so we entered the slow moving stream of people.
I don’t like being part of any large movement or organization. There is always something I don’t agree with. I’m sure it’s related to my experience in the Army and more specifically in Vietnam. We wreaked havoc on that beautiful country and its people and I was part of that effort. When I got back and decided to join the protest against the war, I found out that to the protesters I symbolized what they were against. I didn’t feel welcomed by them and didn’t like many of the things they were saying.
I recently allowed my membership in the American Legion to lapse for that very reason. For example, I didn’t agree with their efforts to amend the constitution giving Congress the power to prohibit the desecration of the American flag. The Legion is very hung up on the flag. I don’t want to burn a flag, but I believe in my right to do so. If I can buy one and own one, then I can burn it. Strangely I supported the right of that wacko preacher who wanted to burn the Koran. I also have a right to burn a Bible, which I don’t especially want to do either, but I don’t think the preacher would have agreed with that. The issue is individual freedom of expression. The flag is a symbol of that freedom, not the freedom itself.
When Katie and I fell into step with the marchers, I felt slightly uncomfortable. There was a young man directly behind us yelling about the greed of the fascist capitalists etc. and he kept stepping on my heel, causing my shoe to come off. He did that twice. Finally I turned around and gave him a dirty look. He looked back at me, but didn’t seem to care. He was too busy yelling nasty remarks for the cause. I feel these demonstrations should be peaceful and not have any destructive behavior or aggressive words, at all. But my wanting to turn around and knock that asshole down on the ground and give him a memorable experience with my shoe, didn’t seem in harmony with my message. So instead we dropped out of the procession.
The Occupy Wall Street movement was started by a group out of Vancouver, BC called Adbusters. I’m not sure how it made the transition from Canada to the US, but on Jul 13, 2011 they put out a call to those who read their website and publications to: Occupy Wall Street!, and the following statement:
In Solidarity, and as a response to this call, a planning group was formed [], and an info sharing site established. The participation of every person, and every organization, that has an interest in returning the US back into the hands of its individual citizens is required.
Our nation, our species and our world are in crisis. The US has an important role to play in the solution, but we can no longer afford to let corporate greed and corrupt politics set the policies of our nation.
We, the people of the United States of America, considering the crisis at hand, now reassert our sovereign control of our land.
Solidarity Forever!
The first OWS protest was on September 17, 2011. Wikipedia says that within one month there were similar demonstrations in 70 major cities and 600 communities around the country. World wide protests similar to these have happened in over 900 cities.
This movement has obviously struck a chord with people and during the first month it grew very fast. The protestors call themselves the 99%ers. This alludes to the fact that 1% of the population has a disproportionate amount of the wealth. The 99%ers believe that because of the way our politicians are elected, they become beholden to those with the most money. This highly influences how these politicians govern and the laws they pass. We can’t trust the government to change this because they are the very ones perpetuating it.
Only time will tell whether this movement will continue to grow and affect some kind of change. Much of the third world is rapidly trying to become more capitalistic while the OWS movement is saying we all need to be less capitalistic. The western world has lived this wasteful consumer lifestyle for a long time now. We are in no place to tell the billions of people in the third world they can’t have it too. It seems pretty clear that if the billions of people in the third world do become affluent in the same way that we are, the earth will not be able to sustain all the waste and pollution and the energy demands will be astronomical. It’s apparent that we are heading for a big change.
With all these huge problems facing the world, do we want big business calling the shots? Capitalists are most concerned with making a profit and less concerned about the welfare of the people and the environment. So even though I support much of what the OWS movement stands for, I don’t think I’ll be marching with them again any time soon. Well maybe I will if they get rid of those angry, nasty, shoe destroying assholes.

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