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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Another Birthday For Occupy Wall Street

Last Thursday, September 17 was Occupy Wall Street's 4th birthday and it was celebrated at Zuccotti Park, site of the original Occupy Wall Street. The movement has splintered off and some of it is now under new multiple managements. The group I was with last Thursday calls itself Occu-Evolve. As with many name changes, there is some differences between the past and the present groups. The present group has brought more light to bear on racial issues than the original Occupy Wall Street did. 



I cannot make the planning meetings because of travel time and costs so it would be difficult for me to say whether it is using the same kind of decision making in the planning meetings. But like its predecessor, getting adequate participation is still a struggle. Such implies nothing about Occu-Evolve. We know from the Old Testament and the treatment of Jesus, rejection of our message implies nothing negative about either us or what we are saying.

There were a number of speakers there and they spoke on a variety of topics. Most, if not all of the topics, however, dealt with domestic issue. Some of the issues discussed included social justice, healthcare and insurance, Staples and its attempts to replace, at least in part, the Federal Post Office, and police brutality and the incarceration of minorities. There was also a time where there was an open mic.

The group started very small and then grew somewhat as the day went on. That also happened at the original Occupy Wall Street only the the first Occupy grew faster and larger during the day. However, the Occu-Evolve protesters better represented minorities in terms of percentages and numbers than Occupy Wall Street's first day did.



We finished the gathering with a march toward City Hall and there was suppose to be the creation of an encampment, but that most likely did not take place. I cannot say that for sure though because I left as it was getting dark.

Where is the Occupy Movement right now? It isn't as strong in America as it is in some European nations That might be because we Americans tend to be a more compliant people than what we would like to think. As long as we are getting enough material goodies in life, we tend to live and let live. Of course the let live does not ask if others are getting enough material things.

The biggest challenge that faces Occupy today is the same that faced it back in 2011. That challenge is that of getting enough people to participate. And here, I would like to borrow a world model used by the movie The Hunger Games. In that movie, the world was divided into two parts: the Capitol and the Districts. The Capitol consisted of those who benefited from the status quo while the districts were made up of those who paid the highest price for the upkeep of the Capitol with its escapist and luxurious lifestyles. A real life illustration of this could be to show us as we shop for the lowest prices of the fashionable clothes we desire and then show textile laborers who work in local and foreign sweatshops to make our clothes.

See, it is understandable to not see too many residents of the Capitol who are enjoying life's bounty at Occupy events. The same cannot be said when the Districts of our society go underrepresented at Occupy protests. And here we should note that even when Occupy was at its height, the attendance and participation at Occupy was always low relative to the size of the population who were living in the Districts.

Before we can expect society to change, we must change first. There must be more people participating in groups like Occu-Evolve. That there are relatively so few people participating from the Districts says that while not blaming ourselves for inadequate attendance and participation, we need to find new kinds of activism that might inspire them to join our ranks.

That there are even fewer people participating in groups like Occu-Evolve from the Capitol says two things about those of us who are enjoying the good life. First, it says that we don't care enough about others. Second, it says that we live in denial of where the analogy between the Occupy movement and the world according to The Hunger Games movie falls short. For in the movies, if memory serves, there was no significant transfer of people from the Capitol to the Districts. But that has occurred in real life such as in the 2008 financial crisis and could happen again. 

Thus, groups like Occu-Evolve must also discover how to appeal to those who live in the Capitol. I write that because for any significant change to take place in our society and nation, we need many people from both those who are well served by the status quo and those who are neglected or exploited by the status quo. Without a very significant increase in numbers and participation, groups like Occu-Evolve can exist, but they cannot effectively work for change. 


 

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