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Friday, October 28, 2011

Occupy oneself

The Occupy movement reminds me of the classic film of 1975, Network. From the script: 

"I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It's a depression. Everybody's out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel's worth. Banks are going bust... We know things are bad. Worse than bad. They're crazy... I don't want you to riot. I don't want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write. I don't know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crying in the streets. All I know is first you've got to get mad. You've got to say, 'I'm a human being. My life has value.' So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out, and yell, 'I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!'" 

The definition of "this" -- what they're not going to take anymore -- varies from person to person. For some it's no prospect of employment at a liveable wage. For some it's a lack of affordable health care. For some it's discrimination on the basis of gender or sexual preference. For some it's the power and wealth of corporations (although I've spotted a few Starbucks-swilling, iPhone-talking, Nike-clad protestors). 

What we have here is a diffuse and justifiable angst. Thankfully it's not destructive like the riots in England a few months ago. However, it's not constructive either. I believe the mantra should become Occupy Oneself. By that I mean to apply the energy toward either political change or social action. 

If occupiers don't like what the Republican Party has done or failed to do since 2010, then they should organize for the 2012 election. if occupiers don't like how the Supreme Court has ruled, then let them propose legislation or an amendment to the constitution. If occupiers don't like the lack of available jobs, then they should lobby for a diversion of funding from universities to community colleges. If occupiers have too much time on their hands, let them volunteer at social agencies and non-profits that would be happy to have extra hands. 

But get off the sidewalks and do something.