Here’s where the rest connects…
I love people.
It’s been a big year – The “Arab Spring”, the Wisconsin protests, the 15 Mayo movement in Spain, the student protests in Chile, and now Occupy Wall Street. I still am not a fan of how the media compares and relates these because they are such varying situations and causes for protest, but I guess it’s undeniable – In all of these situations, massive groups of people are organizing and taking a stand for what they believe in.
Occupy Wall Street.
Since I stumbled on that Youtube video about Occupy Wall Street, it seems to have massively grown in not only NYC but throughout the US and now I’m even hearing about it from friends in other countries. Although I suppose the US is always in everyone else’s news, I’m actually happy about this news being out there.
A lot of people say Americans are stupid, ignorant, and apathetic, but somehow overly patriotic. I’ve encountered this throughout South America and the few places I’ve been in Europe, but I’m coming to terms with the fact that that portrayal is out there. I’ve ignored it or argued the point, but I think now I mostly just feel bad that people only see this one side of the US. And I’m glad this OWS Movement is showing another side for once…
I wish I could be there but keeping up with the blogs and videos will have to suffice. To be honest, I never really imagined something like this would happen. Like so many others, I had lost faith in ever seeing a real change in the political circus and figured the next best option was to keep to the humanitarian sector that does work in its own ways. But all it takes is a group of crazy people to get something going.
Because I love to promote Invisible Children, here’s a bit of a background story.
I finished university a semester early, got a job offer from my dream job, turned it down because I wanted to save up funds to go on an adventure in South America, and stayed working at my own university in a city I loved with a job I liked enough because of a boss and co-workers that couldn’t be better (still true). Then came time for my official ceremonious graduation day. I didn’t have any final exams, papers or projects since I finished them 4 months earlier, it was senior week, I had free tickets to pretty much all the events, what more could I want?
It just so happens that there was an event set for the weekend before. Invisible Children is an organization that I first learned about in 2005 by watching a rough cut documentary about abducted child soldiers in a 20 year old war in Northern Uganda. Children as young as 6 years old were being taken from their homes and either raped or forced to fight in this war, slaughter their families and witness unbelievable atrocities. I went to an awareness event where we wrote letters to politicians and camped out in demonstration of solidarity with Uganda’s night commuters. There’s something about experiencing the energy and momentum created by by a group of strangers united by nothing but their passion for a common cause and their belief that they can make a difference. I don’t know what else to call it but inspiring. Anyways, since then, I’ve supported IC’s work and participated whenever it was possible in their awareness events and fundraising activities. (Whenever you have a chance, I strongly recommend checking out IC’s history and their programs.)
Fast forward to graduation in spring 2009…. long story short – We worked on the planning for an event called The Rescue, which was supposed to last a day – a demonstration march through the city, camping out by the capital, and most importantly getting media attention along with support from influential celebrities or politicians. By the end of the night, suddenly I was in a car with strangers I met in the park heading to Pennsylvania, sleeping on Harrisburg’s capital steps for 3 nights, then on a bus with more complete strangers going to Virginia, and a week later I was in Chicago walking around Oprah’s studios.
I spent a week in serious limbo, calling in to work, rearranging flights, and was on the verge of skipping my graduation. Others were quitting their jobs and missing exams because we couldn’t pull ourselves away until we saw the end we desired – Successful events in all of the 100 cities across the country. Happy ending – To save my mom from a heart attack, I did make it back to Boston a few hours before the ceremony. The organization was featured on Oprah, news channels across the country and even some international ones, and it has massively grown in supporters and programs ever since.
Anyways, I suppose this would go in one of my life-changing moments. All at the same time, I had no idea what I was doing, yet I knew exactly what I was doing. It was crazy but it made all the sense in the world. There is NOTHING, I mean NOTHING, like being a part of something bigger than yourself.
Do you see where I’m going?
I am thrilled to see so many people all over supporting Occupy Wall Street. I’ve never seen anything like this come together, particularly for political issues. I don’t think it’s just about raising taxes for the top 1% or reforming health care or getting out of the wars… The US is supposed to be a representative democracy but ver few people feel like the have any power or that their opinion matters. People still don’t think their vote counts and even if it does – Do these representatives really represent us in the end anyways?
OWS is a statement to this mess of a system, but somehow even more than a statement to the political and economical powers. After reading the transcript from Slavoj Zizek, I am coming to see that it’s bigger than that. It’s a reminder to ourselves and a statement to the world.
WE HAVE A VOICE.
“Don’t be afraid to really want what you desire.” And DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.
So important no matter how big or small the step. Whether it’s getting yourself out to a OWS location, writing to your Congressmen, volunteering for a local organization, quitting your job, moving to another country…. depending on what you want. But do whatever it takes in the pursuit.
Anyways, because I do think more people should be getting involved with OWS, here are Top 5 Facts about the Top 1%:
1. The top 1 percent Of Americans owns 40 percent of the nation’s wealth
2. The top 1 percent of Americans take home 24 percent of national income
3. The top 1 percent of Americans own half of the country’s stocks, bonds, and mutual funds
4. The top 1 percent of Americans have only 5 percent of the nation’s personal debt
5. The top 1 percent are taking in more of the nation’s income than at any other time since the 1920s
Keep up with Occupy Wall Street on their website – www.occupywallst.org