The “Occupy ____” Movement is sweeping across the United States at a breakneck pace. I’ve heard of an Occupy Denver as well as an Occupy LA in the last couple weeks, and there’s even an Occupy movement starting in my hometown of Rockford, IL. People are unhappy, and they want to let the world know. Congratulations, Occupation: you have an opinion, and you’ve let Congress know. It’s not good enough.
For those of you who’ve been living under a rather large rock for the past three-some weeks, the Occupy Movement was started by a protest on Wall Street titled, coincidentally, “Occupy Wall Street.” Protesters want change in the financial system and are unhappy with the massive amounts of American wealth held by the ridiculously small percentage of American people. The movement has since caught fire and spread across the country, inspiring others to express their unhappiness with the American financial system and disparity between classes.
Thus far it seems that to Wall Street, the Occupy Movement has been akin to the “Occupied” sign seen on an airplane: a bit inconvenient, but not the end of the world. And why would it be anything else? Trading days haven’t stopped or slowed, stocks rise and fall with a flip of a coin as they have since the American debt ceiling “crisis,” and I’m guessing stock brokers can’t really hear the chanting of the unhappy masses from 40 floors up in their wood-paneled offices. Besides that, nobody has stepped forward with concrete demands or objectives, and thus far the only named, specific group I’ve heard take repeated, consistent heat from protesters is the NYPD, instead of specific brokers, politicians, or organizations.
Huffington Post’s Tracey Vitchers wrote today that the movement hasn’t made specific demands because it no longer desires current institutions to remain in power. I’m more apt to believe that people are too busy enjoying feeling the power of camaraderie in the “trenches” of social warfare. We may live in a democracy, but regardless of our votes, Congress seems to have spiraled out of control and left the “common man” feeling cheated and underrepresented. The Occupy Movement is doing a great job of reminding people that they have a voice, but an all-talk, no-thought state of mind is precisely what got us to this point in the first place. Without serious plans, open-minded discourse, and the means to make changes, we have nothing. After all, knowledge may be power, but it’s not enough when you’re fighting against laws and guns.
Occupation in itself doesn’t actually DO anything. Our nation needs change beyond a political slogan, and true change requires action. We as an American people need to wake up and realize we can take action in our lives and government. Egypt realized it, and we can too. But without a serious mindset, concrete goals, or the determination to see the movement peacefully through to the end, the Occupy movement runs the risk of either burning out completely or blowing up to violent proportions. People will grow tired if they don’t feel that they’re making real progress.
What needs to be done to fix our “problem?” 99% of America isn’t privy to the exceptional wealth that the 1% hold, so Wall Street has been occupied; do protesters want the stock market shut down? Do they want to increase taxes on the wealthy, increase government allotments of money to the poor? Do they want Donald Trump and others to beg for their lives as pillagers ravage the streets of Martha’s Vineyard? If protesters are waiting for someone else to fill in this answer for them, they run the risk of falling for the same trap that created this government everyone’s so unhappy with.
I believe we can make this country a better place, and I believe now is the time. But if someone DOES come out of the Occupy woodwork with an “answer” to the problem, I certainly hope it doesn’t involve violence; people are angry and may simply waiting for an excuse to put their fingers on triggers.