Occupy Wall Street Revisited

 

Women’s Suffragette Movement

Photo:  Paul Thomson, Topical News Agency, Getty Images

Crowds surrounding the Reflecting Pool, during...

Crowds surrounding the Reflecting Pool, during the 1963 March on Washington. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

   The 17th of September marked the one year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement that began with protesters pitching tents in front of the New York Stock Exchange that eventually spread around the world.  The instigation of the movement was to voice opposition to corporate mishandling and greed, the global financial system, and our government cutbacks that have affected people worldwide.

     A group of Occupiers protested in Orlando, near where I live, for several months…living in tents near a local lake, until an arrest was made over one chalking on the sidewalk.  The charge stemmed from a city ordinance that prohibits “writing or painting advertising matter on streets or sidewalks.”  The man spent three weeks in jail.  The city prosecutor dropped the charges the day after his release.

     I recently took part in a poll by The Daily Post at WordPress.com that asked three questions in regard to the Occupy protests:  1)  I’m all for it, and even participated in some local events  2)  It’s a nice idea but I don’t think protests do anything  3)  I don’t support it at all, and disagree with the idea.  At the point that I answered the poll, it stood at roughly 26% answered 1, 59% agreed with number 2, and 14% said that they disagree with the idea of protests.  My response was ‘one’ and I was surprised and dismayed at the majority of people who stated that either they don’t think protests do any good or that they disagree with protesting. 

     But maybe it’s because I grew up in the 50s and 60s and that’s how I saw people bringing attention to their causes that led me to vote in the affirmative.  On August 28, 1963, 200,000 people gathered in Washington, D.C. for equal rights, not only for African Americans but all minorities.  The strong leaders of that group met with President Kennedy and members of Congress and then led a march from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial.  It was there that Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.  This movement helped make an impact so strong that the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964. 

     Although this protest did not bring about the end of the Vietnam War, the demonstration in the fall of 1969 in Washington, D.C. remains the largest of our history.  Over 500,000 people joined in unity to object to the war. And November marked a time where peoples from around the world came together in their outcry against this conflict. Unfortunately, in spite of these efforts, the war continued on for another six years.

     One of the most important movements came well before my time, the suffragette movement for the right of women to vote.  This push for women to be able to vote started as far back as the Revolutionary War.  But women such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton gave the push a shove in the mid 19th century and finally in 1920 an amendment to the constitution was instated that gave the right to vote to everyone regardless of sex.

     There have been many other movements throughout history that have brought about change or at least let the “powers that be” hear their oppositions’ voices.  In my opinion, none of these protests are in vain; there is always a message being conveyed.

     I’m all for citizens being able to bring peaceful protest and attention to their causes…the key word here being peaceful.  I don’t agree with rioting, killing and destroying property.  I like the leadership examples of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. who both used non-violent means to bring about changes in their time, and add to those names, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who uses the same methods today.

     Some time ago, I joined with a group of bloggers over at Amy Doyle’s “Soul Dipper” WordPress site, http://souldipper.wordpress.com/, for a weekly, Thursday posting she’s dubbed “Occupy Blogosphere”.  The purpose of this being to uplift and bring positivity to a world that can so easily depress and discourage.   We share encouraging messages and support one another and in this small way strengthen us all.

     I can’t imagine not being in support of the ability to gather with others of like mind and peacefully give a direct and strong message to those we don’t agree with and who have the power to dictate the impact on our day to day lives.  And don’t forget, our constitution supports our right to assembly and our right to freedom of speech…sometimes the two go hand-in-hand.

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24 Comments

  1. I cannot agree more. One problem with living in a time when the success of many movements came about in the past and was thus “inherited” is that people can forget how those changes came about. For example, we take our right to birth control and to simply be in charge of our bodies for granted but there was a time when birth control was illegal (and wasn’t made legal until 1965) and women could be incarcerated for having sex outside of marriage (they would be declared mentally incompetent)… Although many strides have been made, the world is far from perfect, there is much work to be done, and I too think protesting in the manner you suggested can be powerful as well as empowering.

    BTW the RHCP were absolutely amazing! I can say it was by far the best concert I’ve ever been to… thank you for your visit and your comments…

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  2. Thanks for a wonderful comment, Serena and sharing your thoughts with me. You are so right in the points that you make. We do have a lot of work ahead of us and sometimes we have to hit the streets to let others know we mean business…numbers speak volumes…as they say.

    Hey, so glad to hear that the RHCP was the best concert ever for you…I’ve always loved them.

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  3. Bodhirose … excellent piece. We come from the same era. Protest always works … although those who reap the benefits of a particular protest may be of another era. Peaceful protest lives on always in history, inspiring and continuing to cause changes.

    I know that you know that there is a movement afoot today … a form of peaceful protest that is about sending positive energies and loving energies toward those in power who are not so great. Perhaps this is a place that protest has evolved to and as a result “we” don’t realize that the protest movement is alive and well.

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    • Thank you, Raven…I really appreciate your compliment and great comments on this issue. I so agree with you…no protest goes without seeing some change brought about…if only some time in the future. Yes, I feel the movement that is going on…there are some who are using their positive energies to project good and lovingkindness out into the world. Some may not be aware but it is “afoot”. (I love that word!)

      Thanks so much for coming by and joining with me on this. xoxo

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      • My pleasure. And thank you. I have been brought up short recently … thank goodness. The political scene has given me a reason … that is no excuse, to put out a lot of bad energy. I am seeing things anew today and putting out positive energy.

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        • I so easily can go into a negative space about all the wrongs in the world…in particular…the political scene. I can rant with the best of them! But I do reel myself in with the awareness that adding more negativity to something never makes it better…no matter how righteous I may think my views. That’s why I’m making a conscious effort to surround myself with positive folks…because I sorely need the boost. So glad you’re choosing the positive too, Raven…we’re in this together!

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  4. What a great piece, Gayle. It is so interesting to look back and see the gains – perhaps not the specifically projected ones, but those that fell out of the efforts. Overall, when young people began speaking up in the 60s, it was considered bold and quite shocking. MLKing, however, was a familiar name in Canada and everyone I knew was pulling for him.

    We never know what seeds we are planting. In the sixties, I heard and captured concepts like a piece of Velcro in a windstorm of dandelion fluff. Those positive pieces validated how I had been raised. They okay’d the core of integrity upon which I’d been taught to live. They gave me courage to find out what I had to say. They said I was on the right track and to keep going.

    I’m overjoyed that #1 received 26%, Gayle, and that 59% are fence sitters. There’s our target audience! Advertisers know to target the fence sitters, the wishy washy. If those results are a microcosm, just think…we 26%ers only have to touch the soul of 2 or 3 people.

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    • You, Amy, are an inspiration to me and I’m so glad we share many of the same views on “seed planting.” Yes, it was shocking to speak out back then, and especially bold to go against our government and not sit idly by while they made decisions that we didn’t agree with. I too grabbed onto many ideas and concepts during that time of immense personal growth… and love what you said about capturing concepts like a “piece of Velcro in a windstorm of dandelion fluff.”

      Hadn’t looked at those poll numbers like you did, Amy…you’re right!

      Thanks for sharing your ideas and adding your voice here, Amy…I love listening to you.

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  5. You can count me as another one who would’ve answered “1”, although I unfortunately didn’t get to participate in any of the Occupy marches. I do think, however, that the times have changed enough that peaceful protests are no longer as effective as they were back then. It was “newer” back then, so it still had shock value. Not so much today. Those who would effect change have to do a LOT MORE than simply mount a peaceful protest, regardless of how many people are there. Yes, numbers make it more impressive, and therefore tend to be taken more seriously, but the youth today (at least here in America) are not as involved…or maybe I should say they are involved in a different way.

    I see it every day, working on a university campus: young people today are distracted and pulled in a million different directions. There is no “common cause” like there was for integration and womens’ suffrage, or the war in Vietnam…even though the young people today are still fighting foreign wars and spilling our blood for oil or money, not enough of them even “get it” and make the connection between their “duty” and what they can do to protest it. They are disillusioned, because they have been taught and doctrinated into believing that it won’t make a difference now, because the world is so different, and those with power have the money to make sure things stay at the status quo – they’ve been brainwashed into believing that their voices no longer matter…and why should they care, anyway? It’s not like it affects them personally in any way. (You and I both know differently, but this is the attitude I witness all the time).

    Between social media, video games, i-phones, i-pods, etc. today’s young people are more self-absorbed and self-centered than ever before. So many of them lack focus on others or on the “bigger picture” that it’s going to take a lot more than protests to get them to even care. Luckily, humans are adaptable creatures. If we can utilize all the ways that the youth connect with each other, and make it resonate on a personal level, then I think today’s tide could very well eclipse what happened back in the 50s and 60s. The key, is getting them to care about something other than themselves.

    Some do. Some recycle, work tirelessly to try and change things for the better. Not enough of them, yet, but there are some who give me hope that it’s still do-able. I think one of the reasons that so many of them really like and relate to the group “Anonymous” is because they’re using something familiar to the young people – technology and the internet. The cause they fight for have to be “of the people”…and if people cannot somehow relate to it on a personal level, to make it worth fighting for in their minds and hearts, apathy and ignorance will continue to guide them.

    The song “For What it’s Worth” comes to mind…love the song, love the message. We have to find the right song for today’s youth-culture…because they are the future, of whatever lasting changes we’re going to make.

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    • Good points, Corina. I’m not sure how to get people to feel empowered that they can make a difference, or to care to even try. It does seem like many young people today are focused on themselves. They don’t see the big picture like we did…that everything happening in the world has that “trickle down” effect and eventually has an impact on each of us. Back when I was a young adult, we were surrounded by music that supported us in getting involved in making things better…I know music sure empowered me. Yes, I love that song too, Corina…one of many protest songs. Those days set me in motion to get involved in letter-writing campaigns and signing petitions that I continue today. It does make a difference…I’ve seen the positive results.

      Thanks for adding your voice here, Corina…I knew I could count on you.

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  6. Bravo, Gayle! I’m proud to know you, Girlfriend! 🙂 You don’t just talk the talk; you walk the walk.

    I think people feel so disempowered–that whatever they do won’t change an thing. They have forgotten about the power of one…and one more…and one more…and…

    Society isn’t some abstract thing that is outside of us–it IS us. I told my student that all of the time. “Where do you think social change comes from? People–you and me–that’s where!” That’s what I would tell them. I wouldn’t tell them how to act; I would just remind them that they had the power to act.

    In this post you did the same thing. Again, Bravo!

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    • Well, thank you for that, Lorna! 🙂

      You are so right about people thinking ‘society’ is something “out there”…apart from themselves. No, it’s each individual that creates the whole. I like the message you gave your students too and this message needs to be continued…and begun at a very young age. Power to the people! 🙂

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  7. Great post, kiddo. So informative and inspiring – and right on! YES those movements created change – the anti-war protests eventually resulted in the end of the Vietnam war (for American, anyway). I love the purpose of the Occupy movement – time for the 1% to cough up some of their excess so the other 99% can live. I recently found souldipper, a site that is doing wonderful work. Do you know about Mimi Lennox at Mimi Writes?http://mimiwrites.blogspot.ca/ She is preparing for her early November annual Blogblast for Peace. You might want to check it out.

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    • Thanks, Sherry. Trying to inspire those who think that protests don’t work…yes, they do! I’m glad you found Amy’s blog…she’s done a wonderful service by offering a positive forum to share and inspire. Have not heard of Mimi but will surely look into her blog…a Blogblast for Peace…sounds great! Hugs…

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  8. A well considered piece, Gayle. I’d have voted as you did. You may be right that it has to do with the times in which we grew up. I think a lot of folks are so discouraged right now. They feel powerless. We can’t decry what is going on if we are not willing to make an effort to correct problems. I am heartened by this post and the responses you’ve had to it.

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    • Thank you, Jamie…I’m glad you feel heartened by this post and the responses…I am too. Yes, I know many are discouraged, I being one of them. But if everyone took just a small amount of time to do some act of service to help someone else…that would be so very powerful… Sign a petition to voice an opinion or write a letter on someone’s behalf who is being wrongly persecuted…it makes a difference. I’ve seen it work.

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  9. I’m new to your blog but not new to the idea of service and interest and protest and many other of these ideas and activities… I tell my employees too that even one hour a month of involvement helps to make a difference – whether they go to a union meeting or a church committee meeting or a political party’s meeting or the ACLU or NAACP (just not the KKK),, just suit up and show up for an hour.

    I will also check out “soul dipper”, and am now following you (not stalking). BTW I live in Florida too (south Florida) Randy

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    • Well thank you for this wonderful comment, Randy…you sound like a smart and compassionate boss to advise your employees in this way. I wrote this for a writing challenge over at the Daily Post at WordPress.com where we were asked to write about our feelings (onthe first year anniversary) of the Occupy movement.

      I think you’ll enjoy Soul Dipper, Amy Doyle…we’re enjoying coming together over on her blog and adding some light to the world.

      And it’s nice to meet another Floridian too… (who’s not a stalker) 🙂
      Gayle ~

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  10. I also so agree with you, Gayle, and couldn’t have expressed it better. I grew up in the fifties, sixties too, and get so upset at the too common complacency now – after so many put so much on the line in hope of making a fairer and less divisive and violent world. I hate that greed often takes precedence over what is right and good and compassionate (I had an experience of that this very day). But, I also am heartened daily by the wonderful spirit of peace and goodwill that I connect with through the blogosphere. Thank you for your heart and beautiful caring spirit!

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