The “Occupy” movement sweeping across the nation and, even the world, baffles me. I don’t, for one minute, want to take away the rights of Americans to peacefully assemble, protest, or march in support of a cause. My grandfather used to say that he went to Korea to defend the right of everyone, even idiots, to say freely what they believe. The flashpoint of the movement seems to be that they are just now figuring out that in America, we have some very rich people. And it seems to further anger the OWS people that these very rich folks are still rich despite the nasty recession in which we find ourselves. I hate to be the one who bears bad news, but that’s the way it has always been and will always be. Protesting won’t change it. Drum circles won’t change it. Clever signage along the picket lines won’t change it. But I have some ideas of what will.
There is injustice in the world. Some have more than they can possibly ever use while many have less than what is required to live. It’s unfair. I hate it. Over 2 billion people in this world eek out an existence on $2 a day. It’s deplorable that so many live like that with the incredible wealth available the world over. Income disparities in our US of A are atrocious too. Many live hand to mouth and jobs are hard to come by in this age. I get it. It sucks. But could somebody please explain to me how living in a tent in a public park and chanting is going to solve these problems? I have seen some of the participants interviewed by reporters and there are always a couple of key questions asked and the answers are always the same. “How long are you going to stay here?” and “What would have to happen to make you give up and go home?” The now very predictable answers are respectively “As long as it takes.” and “Until things change.” OooooKaaaaayyyy… That doesn’t exactly qualify as a plan of action with clear objectives, and attainable goals. And that’s my point. How exactly does the movement hope to effect change when they don’t even know what change they’re after?
There are real things that can be done here and now to effect change. The first is put your money where your mouth is. There are hundreds of great organizations and nonprofits helping people all around the world. Some of them feed children or drill water wells or educate the illiterate. Here at home we have food banks, job assistance programs, and training academies for those needing to re-purpose their skill-set. If you see a need that’s not being met in your community, start your own organization and meet that need. The point I’m making is that its not wrong to be angry at the gross injustices in our society. We should be angry and then let that anger spur us to action – not to inaction disguised as activism. Wall street execs are not going to give up their multi-million dollar bonuses because of a tent city and candle-lit marches. Government is not going to crack down on fraud and corruption and abuse in the financial system because your clever sign calls a spade a spade. The unemployed are not going to find work because of your chants that demand they be given jobs.
Doing nothing gets nothing. But doing nothing in something’s clothing is counter-productive. The people who have participated in this movement all across the country could have such a great impact for good, if they only did something. Instead of sweeping the land as agents of change by doing, they have become drains and a blight on the communities they sincerely want to help. The ideas are noble and have some merit. The underlying compassion is real and I respect it. But as with so many ideas, the execution is the hard part, and with OWS, the execution has failed to deliver.
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