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One Moment or Many: The Wall Street Occupation

Cross-posted from Tikkun Daily. by Matthew Goodman


Now in its eleventh day, there has only just begun to be reports and discussion about the occupation of Wall Street in mainstream media. The reasons are related not to the organizational efforts of the occupiers or their lack of conviction or numbers, but to the relationship between our channels of information, our business and corporate sector and our politically empowered. This begs the question of if instead of Wall Street, the occupiers were gathered in Tehran or Sana, would the news of their demands and challenge of the status quo be included in our mainstream news headlines? The answer is yes. Although the American media did not create the protests or uprisings that comprised The Arab Spring, their attention to the social unrest in the Middle East undoubtedly stoked the determination and numbers of those participating in the protests that irrevocably changed the social and political landscape of the region. It is therefore the responsibility of critical and compassionate thinkers to spread the words and actions of the occupiers - most of whom are college age or in their early twenties and thus the future of the American economy and social fabric.


Although not great in number (there were roughly 200 people last night), the message of the occupiers is of the utmost importance. Their grievances - Wall Street greed, wealth disparity, the fiscal gains made by corporate America while middle and lower class Americans struggle to make ends meet - speak to the conditions of not just young New Yorkers, but of the vast majority of Americans. Thus, the lack of attention, and the scoffing tone paid to the protest in a recent New York Times article has the potential for one of three outcomes. As witnesses, it is within our power to choose which result we wish to see. Our choices are as follows. First, if left ignored, the nonviolent activists, replete with frustrations related to unemployment, a decade of war, and the exploitive practices of corporate America - such as those of Verizon - will eventually resort to the rioting and violent demonstrations that Mayor Bloomberg recently expressed concern about. Such acts of violence will certainly be met with force, creating a cycle of violence similar to what occurred in London in August and Greece in June. Second, if ignored, the spirit of the occupiers will wane, and the conditions of American society will continue in the manner it has for the last decade. Wealth disparity will continue to increase, our institutions of higher education will struggle to provide learning opportunities that develop the vibrant 21st Century thinkers America needs to rebuild its economy while becoming even more unaffordable for most Americans, and our political system will continue to devolve into barking matches between innocuous dogs. However, if the news of the occupiers is spread by alternative voices and outlets of information, and the voices of the occupiers are highlighted, than there is the real chance for constructive dialogue and social and political change. If anxious or disconcerted with the state of America, we must each do our small part. Witnessing is not enough. This introduces the recent passing of Wangari Maathai whose story of a hummingbird is where we stand today. "To do the best we can," to make ends meet, to care and love for our families and communities is of great importance. But part of this doing is speaking and sharing the stories of the efforts and thoughts of others. To do so, works to establish the unified, loving society we each wish for ourselves and our families. To do so, creates opportunities for us to participate in constructive actions. To do so furthers the chance that when we need to be heard, we will not be silenced by greed and exploitation, or the ambivalence of people like ourselves. So we must share the news of the occupiers. All it takes is a moment on facebook, on our blogs, on twitter. For ten nights, these young men and women have slept on the concrete that is New York City. No doubt that if what they desire is what we, critical and compassionate thinkers, desire, than we have that moment to spare on their behalf. To read more pieces like this, sign up for Tikkun Daily’s free newsletter, sign up for Tikkun Magazine emails or visit us online. You can also like Tikkunon Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
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