Architecture of Protest
My husband, mother, son, and I all went down to Zuccotti Park/Liberty Square on Sunday to witness and lend support to the Occupy Wall Street protesters. I must admit that, while I do believe the protests are well-founded, I didn't immediately join in the shouting nor know exactly what to make of the group. I am not a revolutionary. I am a mother, professional, and a fellow citizen who is trying to do the best for her family, friends, environment, and community. I lend my voice and dollars to causes I believe in, but I am not a picketer/striker/marcher type. But after yesterday, I feel more strongly about becoming one. Say what you will for the motley group assembled in Lower Manhattan, but they are certainly not people gathering without cause. They are not anarchists. They are not law-breakers. Most people I saw were preaching a message of love, compassion, and truth. They are angry, but only because they were pushed, provoked, and battered into anger. There was a sense of a tide breaking, a great wall of awareness rising, a call to action echoing. SOMETHING must be done, even if they do not know what that something is.
In fact, the amorphousness is part of the argument. I think it is fascinating how the OWS protesters try NOT to voice specific demands, as though once those demands are stated and cursorily dealt with, they can be brushed aside. They (nor their grievances) cannot be brushed aside. So for now, they cannot be named. OWS is everyone who hurts, everyone who has known the sting of lost opportunity, everyone in the 99%; everyone meaning YOU.
On the topic of you and me and everyone we know: In reading The Occupied Wall Street Journal (OWS's newspaper), I was struck by a quotation noted on a protester's sign: "I care about you." The statement is so simple, yet so profound - if you truly care about your brother/sister, you would not steal from them. If you truly care about your brother/sister, you would not kick them when they are down. If you truly care about your brother/sister and recognize that we are all citizens of the world and interconnected with one another, you would not destroy your environment for personal or corporate gain. If people simply CARE, they would engage in debate not war, love not hate, non-violent protest not pacifism. It is the notion of caring that spoke to me and made me feel like I needed to do something, to lend my voice in some way, if writing here is only the first step.
My husband and I plan to go back to Liberty Square. We will raise our voices loudly.