I guess it’s getting pretty freaky out there, with people wondering what “Occupy Wall Street” will do. Since they haven’t really said anything, don’t really have a an agenda, and may not actually be an actual “organization” per se, right now all they’re doing is communicating their discontent. Yep, they’re angry and they’re not going to take it anymore. But which “it” aren’t they going to take anymore? Nobody knows. Remember when your parents or your partner just stared at you and didn’t tell you what they were mad about?. Remember how uncomfortable that was? This is just like that. The brain goes through the thousand things you could be in trouble for and the anxiety builds, as does the guilt. In that mix, for most people, are a bunch of things that are irrational and have nothing to do with actual sins, and that the silent, angry person had never thought of. Certainly, there are those, too. Some teller at Bank of America is wondering if she’ll be in trouble and “they” will be destroying her branch because she gave someone a nickel less than she was supposed to, or somebody’s retirement stocks tanked or… or… and the list goes on.
ABC News has a thing on their website which says “Occupy Wall Street Shows It’s Dark Side”, and goes on to talk about “Occupy”-related groups like Anonymous hackers who slow down the Stock Exchange or people with signs that say “Eat the Rich!” or “Kill the Rich” or whatever. My wife said she saw on TV that people were camping outside of individual billionaires’ houses. This includes Rupert Murdoch, who owns FOX News. That’s got to scare him and his employees. The implied threat that the campers symbolize has got to be huge.
What if they just break down the gates and steal their stuff? It’ll look like people looting Saddam Hussein’s house or Gaddafi’s house when those regimes came down. And looting, by it’s very nature is scary stuff. Formerly over-the-top rhetoric about “class warfare” no longer seems like rhetoric because people’s problems have gone over the top, while government’s ability\willingness to do anything has stayed the same. But none of this is “Occupy Wall Street” because “Occupy” hasn’t done anything but protest and camp out yet. It’s non-violent protest, but it’s not revolution.
How do I know this? It is because revolution (that thing people are afraid of) is messy. Revolutions are full of anger that has been fomenting a long time and when the anger hits its boiling point, it makes a mess of everything around it. Revolutions are not pretty. They are not — despite what you may have seen on posters — “glorious!!!!” — at least the violent ones. And they are not, definitely not, polite.
The non-violent ones aren’t even non-violent. The people marching with Dr. King were non-violent, but Bull Connor was not a non-violent man. The people with firehoses and bombs for church windows were not non-violent. There is no way to escape this part of revolutions. People at “Occupy” have already been maced, and roughly handled on the Brooklyn Bridge. This will continue. Whether or not they get violent back remains to be seen, but you can bet that people on Wall Street are worried that they will.
Here’s why: The people on Wall Street who have been swindling folks already know how dark the human soul can get because their souls are already there. The people who stole money from retirees and homeowners and poor people trying to save a dime here and there all know just how mean they were. The people who did these things without a conscience know how violent they have been. The people that laughed at the protesters in Chicago and put up signs saying “We are the 1%” know how petty they were being. If they can be that greedy, that conscience-less, that petty, then certainly some portion of the 99% can be just as greedy, conscience-less, and petty.
Badly behaved bankers behind gated fences with a huge security force are worried for their very lives. Why? Because they know that ending 5,000 jobs and keeping the profit for themselves ended up killing some families that were making ends meet. They also know that the $35.00 cup of coffee was a royal pain-in-the-butt for me, but to a family that buys 4 boxes of macaroni and cheese for $1 to get by, that overdraft fee was the groceries for the next week, plus some. Didn’t they consider that someone’s life was at stake then? Yes, they did, maybe, for 1/10th of a second. Or maybe because they were so isolated from the poor that they didn’t think that hard or have that experience.
That’s a pity, but this revolution has been coming since Proposition 13 in California happened and people said “We’re not going to pay for things like firehouses and parks with our taxes”, and that began ending the Social Contract. Now, so many people are on the sidelines of The Social Contract that the Mighty 1% is a minority with all the power and 1% of the vote.
My point is that none of this should be a surprise to anyone. There is a limit to how much you can take before people notice. There is a limit beyond which the conned person becomes the conned neighborhood and the conned neighborhood becomes the mob that refuses to be conned and wants its money back. There is a point when it seems unfair that people have to prove they own a car to sell it from their driveway, but a bank can sell your house without proving that they, in fact, own it. We may have reached that point.
And so, the psyches of those who have cheated, defrauded, stepped on the poor, left families to starve or freeze or removed them from their home by having robo-signers do their dirty work believe that justice means that their livelihoods and their lives as they know them could very well end. Everyone remembers Marie Antoinette — including Ann Coulter who pointed out that — after the French Revolution, there was so much violence that those who started it were hanged. But the “say-anything-snarky-to get-political-press queen” isn’t concerned about the protesters being killed. She’s knows that — if there really is a revolution, she’s not going to make the first cut and I’m sure she’s scared. Suddenly, she wants the rules of law and respectability to apply. But in a revolution, there is no law to appeal to and she’s aware of that.
But Occupy Wall Street has only protested non-violently so far. And there is no indication that they will change. People using their name, or their movement, with their own agendas, will change tactics. People who have suffered and been hurt for far too long will change tactics. The mentally ill whom we have denied meds with our insurance and economic systems will change tactics — or at least consider it. This is what justice demands, or so it seems to those who have spent the last however-many-years being nasty.
But here’s the thing: There are many ways to get justice — many of them are already included in the Constitution. Others, like Truth Commissions, have been successfully tried in places that could have exploded and can prevent bloodshed. Better yet, if people get real justice now, or pretty darned soon, they can prevent the whole revolution thing at all. Most of those 99% people out there actually have scruples, contrary to what they say or show on FOX news.
Even if people even though I have no say whatsoever in the Occupy Wall Street movement, I’d like to state some basics that I think everyone can agree on. I’d like to suggests some rules for whatever happens…
1) Eating is good.
2) Having clothes is good.
3) Being protected from the elements is good.
4) Anything that limits peoples’ chances to do those things — any people, even the people who hurt you — is not where you want to go as a movement. Your movement is the result of the last time people tried to limit food, clothing and shelter to a few.
5) Caring about human beings is us at our best. Seeing all people as human beings, capable of good or evil — is where you want to go as a movement. Anything that doesn’t see people as people, but sees them as classes or races or genders — steer clear of it. We’ve had enough dehumanization already. More of it’s not going to help.
6) There will be violence. It’s unavoidable, given the diversity of people out there. Don’t subscribe to it. Don’t give in to it. You’re fighting for many people’s lives, not other people’s deaths.
7) People need to have meaning in their lives. Anything that can give a life meaning — like a job or a belief in something greater than themselves — is a good thing. Support that.
8) Watch out for greed — for money or power. It’ll be dangled out there for somebody in the movement. But “meet the new boss, same as the old boss” is not a plan that works. We keep trying it and it doesn’t work. There’s always a bigger fish.
9) We have a constitution. It used to work pretty well. Make it apply to everyone again and you could be in business.
If you do these things, you’ll get more than simple justice, you’ll get real justice. America will return and your lives will have meaning and those two things will go hand in hand — something which has sadly been lacking for 40 years or so.
That’s all I got for now.