This also appeared in the online version of The News Sentinel. The link above should take you there.
For the last 10 years or so I’ve watched our country through its trials and tribulations and thought “what happened to protestors?”. As a child growing up in the 70’s I saw the tail end of the war protests. I knew the chant ‘hell no we wont go” and “give peace a chance” I was young enough to hear my mother talk about Gloria Steinem and the burning of bras. I saw women rise up and demand to be paid fairly. My mom took me to see Norma Rae in theatres. I sang 9 to 5 in my bedroom. I knew I could do whatever I wanted when I grew up.
I knew who Dr. King was and found it unfathomable that just a short time before I was born there was still legal segregation. I was ASTOUNDED that my best friend in 5th grade wouldn’t have attended my SCHOOL just 20 years prior to my birth!
And since then, we’ve been pretty quiet. Every weekend a handful of people stand on our local courthouse lawn with their anti war signs, and I honk. And I wonder, why don’t we care anymore?
There are a lot of opinions about whats going on with our country. Its hard to disseminate the facts. With the demise of the fair and balanced act, its hard to even trust what is being reported. Who is our enemy? The 1%? Ourselves? Depends who you ask. People say, we need to quit being bi-partisan. We need to quit fighting each other. Yes, yes we do. But when the “enemy” is so vague, how do we even have a voice?
And that’s why I’m ok with the Occupy protests. I may agree with a lot of these people. I may disagree with a lot of them. Some of them might be lazy slackers with too much time. But I believe a lot of them are just like me. Tired. Frustrated. Confused. Angry. And tired of being QUIET. Tired of not having a voice. I don’t have money to lobby for what I want. But I have a voice. And maybe I haven’t used it often enough, or in the right venues and maybe no one will listen to me.
The Occupy movement is admittedly chaotic at best. But I’m happy to see people standing up and saying you know what? We are pissed. We want change. We may not exactly know HOW to change it, but damn it people, pay attention to us. And I hope some leaders emerge. With out Dr. King, the civil rights movement may have floundered, without a rational, passionate, articulate voice at the forefront.
A year ago this month, I attened the Rally for Sanity in Washington DC. Over a weekend I drove to Washington and stood at our Nations Capital with hundreds of thousands of other people who are TIRED. This is not a nation of people who are willing to sit back any longer. We want a productive, prosperous country back. We want choices and jobs and food on our tables. And we want someone to lead us to a solution. Until we can get our government to work TOGETHER it wont happen.
I don’t know if the occupy moment will bring change. It may bring a bunch of wacko’s out of the woodwork, even a local parade does THAT. But maybe it will remind us that we are a nation of people who can, and have, risen up and made change happen. Who have shifted the status quo and impacted future generations.
No matter what you believe, stand up. Be heard. Have a voice. We have been silent, ALL OF US. For too long.