I spent a lot of time last weekend watching the #Occupy protests around the world but especially here in the U.S. With the number of demonstrators steadily increasing over the past four weeks and Wall Street titans whining to the press, it is clear a chord has been struck - an idea that however messy and disorganized it seems right now, resonates deeply with the world's 99 percent.
Not to mention with the one percenters too. You know something important is afoot when the elite deign to notice the rest of us. Listen to their attempted ridicule:
“'Most people view it as a ragtag group looking for sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll,' said one top hedge fund manager...
“'It’s not a middle-class uprising,” adds another veteran bank executive. “It’s fringe groups.'”
Of course that is demonstrably not so. Actually, cartoonist Tom Tomorrow nailed it well (click here for larger image):
The traditional media – that part that shows a modicum of serious interest in what's happening - keeps wringing its hands over the #Occupy movement having no leader and no list of demands, which only means they are too attached to the elites to understand.
It is enough, for now, as #Occupy is still gaining steam, to say that it opposes the corporate takeover of the economy. There will be specifics when the time is right." (It is helpful in this regard to read this from Mike Konczal of the Roosevelt Institute.)
With all public institutions now owned by the elite (big example: against all rational thought, the Supreme Court granted personhood to corporations) and so many rights removed from the rest of us, the traditional channels of democracy are no longer available. That leaves street occupation the only avenue available for the people to right a wrong.
It certainly cannot be done through the ballot box any longer as state after state institutes restrictions on registration and voting. When a friend pointed out that when the only way to win is to rig elections you have already lost power, I realized how desperate the elite is and how dangerous that could become for the demonstrators.
But that means too, I think, that we are poised in a moment of promise. I worry that colder weather might shrink and dilute the demonstrations. I worry (and almost expect) that the protests, one way or another, will be crushed by the elite. But I also sense that, setbacks or not, this is not going away.
It's important to remember that success will take not weeks, nor even months, but a long, long time. What needs to change is too big and too complicated to not cause a lot of disruption and discomfort all around. All struggles for social and economic justice are hard to do and hard won.
But watching all those demonstrations over the weekend and reading the internet and twitter feeds from the protests and watching videos of the gatherings, chants and arrests, I felt some hope for the first time in several years.
So often since 2008 and even before, many asked when there would be an uprising, an awakening. The time, finally, is here.
It was terrific, as I watched, to see the gray hairs scattered at the barricades. This is a young person's movement, but there is plenty of help and support for elders to provide.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mickey Rogers: No Respect