The power of Occupy Wall Street
by Matt “Naj” Najmowicz
I have two sisters that I love dearly; Mary and Elizabeth are their names. Mary and I have often had enjoyable and insightful discussions on social issues and politics. I look forward to them when I can have them. Mary lives in Indiana, so our ability to talk the way we used to is greatly diminished.
The last few times Mary and I talked, the topic was the national election that came and went. We also talked about two of the most important political movements currently still moving: the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street.
As Mary and I discussed Wall Street, it was clear that she, along with many people, had become disillusioned with the Occupy movement. In a way, I can sort of see where the rub comes from.
The Occupy movement received a significant amount of media coverage, most notably the cable news circles. It seemed that an Occupy encampment was sprouting up in some new place all over the country every day.
Let’s fast forward to present time. Is anyone in the media talking about Occupy Wall Street? Not really.
What happened to that movement, and why make such a fuss over it in the first place? Was it just a media darling that the American viewer watches over one hot and long summer? What was the point to all that protest? Was it worth it to see UC Davis students getting sprayed in the face with chemical spray and carted off to jail?
I think I have an answer.
Every day, I comb over media websites to try to find interesting news that I can corroborate with other competing news websites, and what I saw made me want to write about this: Finally, the Department of Justice is considering manslaughter charges for key executives responsible for the BP oil spill that happened in the Gulf of Mexico coast a few years ago.
I’ll give you all a few moments to recover from the collective screaming and jumping for joy.
BP executives might be pressing license plates along with becoming cellmate girlfriends and the Super PACs made little difference in a national election.
CNN Money’s Chris Isidore, Charles Riley and Terry Frieden reported, “Separate from the corporate manslaughter charges, a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging the two highest-ranking BP supervisors on board the Deepwater Horizon on the day of the explosion with 23 criminal counts. The two men were charged with seaman’s manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter for each of the 11 men killed in the blast, as well as a criminal violation of the clean water act.”
Never underestimate what a group of concerned citizens can do when the odds are stacked against them.
Again and again, history shows that a minority of people can not only change political circumstances that surround us, but can instill in us hope. A group of young protesters not only sat in Zuccotti Park, they changed our minds. They screamed things like “the one percent,” and now that’s part of the American consciousness. When we talk about Wall Street, we no longer think about the famous movie quote from the character Gordon Gekko, “Greed is good,” we now can see the exposed plutocracy that has overtly taken a chokehold on all of us.
For those who were disillusioned with Occupy Wall Street, I think they wanted Occupy to be the antithesis to the Tea Party. Occupy is the antithesis to the Tea Party folks, and to me they couldn’t be more different.
The Tea Party energized mainly white older people to vote Republican. Occupy Wall Street is a totally different animal; they are about a social change. It’s not enough for Occupy to make the political point, although if you read their articles, a bulk of them are political. They also make the point that all the things that happen in government and in private enterprise affect all of us profoundly and deny us our autonomy, our freedom, our liberty and our equality.
If rules apply to one type of person, there is no freedom or liberty. That is where justice comes swooping in. Justice doesn’t say that it will make all things equal. What the blanket of justice tries to provide is a pendulum swing so the injured side can feel the alms of fairness. Justice is hard, difficult, illogical and painful, however, it must be fought for at all times.
I saw justice delivered by the end of a loud and mighty lightning bolt, and I really need to give credit to Occupy Wall Street. Let that be a history lesson for all peoples: a group of concerned people can make a difference. They can obtain justice for themselves against a mighty dreadnaught of opposition. Did not a minority overthrow an economically oppressive empire in 1776? Did not the Haitians overthrow Napoleon’s empire?
That is what it truly means to be a citizen; that’s what it means to be a true patriot.
I hope this illustrates to the disillusioned masses, like my sister Mary, that the energy behind Occupy Wall Street didn’t fade away into a wisp of smoke. The wheels of justice turn slowly, but they do turn.