Occupy Wall Street protester, New York City, September 18, 2011. By David Shankbone (Own work) CC-BY-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), via Wikimedia Commons
The drumbeat of political progress has seized the conscience of the world since the first Arabs in North Africa took to the streets last December, and the peals of their chants and screams have finally reached Wall Street.
The Arabs marched against tyranny, most certainly, but were motivated to do so because they could no longer afford to feed themselves or their families. While those in political and financial power during the Great Global Recession made sure they had consolidated the resources to take care of their own, the people, out of work and trying to get by, now watch helplessly as the price of food and fuel rise beyond their ability to pay for them. Moneyed men fight for bailouts and tax breaks, claiming they need bigger bottom lines so they can maintain their expanding belt lines, and those of their shareholders.
In our complicated world, while we are not all stockholders in multinational energy and agribusinesses, we are all stakeholders. We are most satisfied with life when these businesses are successful at providing goods we can afford, so we can be free to engage in creative and noble pursuits for the betterment of our communities, our nations, and our little, blue planet.
Yet now, as many of those same companies complain to our governments about standing on the shores of uncertainty, they, and the politicians they pay, ignore the rest of us. They feign amazement at the tidewaters rising and falling against their paper tiger legs, and never lift their gaze at the rest of us for whom drowning in the turbulent waves of an uncertain sea is an everyday reality, and not just a rhetorical device to shine a light on the money they are afraid of not making.
All we ask is for them to reach out beyond that shore. Tow, throw, row, go. Some uncharacteristic generosity now could pay dividends later, for we can consume their goods, if we have the resources to do so. But they keep their hands in their own pockets, anxiously jiggling their coins like a young boy playing with his testicles. They withhold, and for those who are hungry, the shrinking away of opportunity is grist for the mill of anxiety.
That is all the hundreds of people who have been occupying Wall Street, since September 17, are asking for. This is a time for us to rise up and help one another. Many want to paint the protesters in Lower Manhattan as anti-business anarchists, like those who viciously riot in the towns where the World Trade Organization (WTO) has its meetings, but these brave people in New York believe in the promise of America, the ability for anyone to work hard, in business, and succeed. They are not anarchists. They don't eschew their piece of the pie; they want to chew it, in large bites. The problem is, they don't think that it will be there for them, and if something in our culture doesn't change, it won't be.
This is not class warfare, as some politicians and pundits doggedly demagogue. It is an appeal for community, for the lost value of caring for those who need our society's attention. It has become apparent that, unless they are forced by federal law, those who have the resources to help rescue our society are too content to stand on the shore and watch the rest of us drown. Maybe they'll be happy being kings with no kingdom, for a minute, but they are going to wake up with a huge hangover the next morning, incredulous that they stand alone.
Wall Street protesters at Manhattan's Zuccotti Park, September 19, 2011.By David Shankbone (Own work) CC-BY-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), via Wikimedia Commons