'OCCUPY WALL STREET' TOUCHES HEARTS
It appears to be less a movement than a collection of individuals with grievances about 'how it is.' And yet the protests of merely hundreds of people in places, (in New York City one estimate placed it as high as fifteen hundred), have gathered support across America and gained national and international media coverage. This is more than a fascination with the youth of America speaking out. It is a spiritual current that is finding expression in those who have the least to lose and the most to gain by expressing their idealism and feeling that this expression can make a difference.
What may be seen as the 'Spirit of America' is alive and visible in the gathering of young people, especially, who wish to change the current political-economic system that has given rise to what everyone is aware of and no one seems to know what to do about, namely, the continuing debt crisis domestically and abroad, and the disparity within the United States between the very rich and the poor.
'Occupy Wall Street' and its associated protest movements in other cities began with a handful of protesters on Sept. 17th on Wall Street in New York City, and has gained more adherents since then. The group has broad ideals which move people to join, and little of a practical nature in the way of a specific platform for change. And yet the practical articulation of means for transforming economic policy is not its purpose. The purpose for these gatherings is a calling out to principle - a calling out that change is needed within a way of life that is deeply troubled and that needs to be transformed. Each one within these variouis groups may have different personal feelings about what, specifically, they feel most troubled by:
- the high national debt and its present and future consequences,
- the disparity of wealth between the very rich in this country and the poor,
- the investiture of much of the domestic budget in the war 'machine'
- the association between government leaders and corporations and the ways in which political decisions reflect these associations,
- the greed that dominates the motivations of many corporations played out in profit-making goals as compared with service to a greater good
- the consumerism and indulgent life-style that belongs to much of America, a lifestyle that seems natural as a way of life to many but whose values need to be altered.
All of these perspectives and many more form the motivations of those who gather together in service to their respective calls for change. In gathering, many are also aligning themselves with the uprisings that have created change through what is called the 'Arab Spring' in the Middle East, bringing it as a current of energy to this country in which protest is in large measure accepted, open, and free.
What all of this means, however, can be witnessed in the large amount of media coverage that has been accorded to the movements of a very small number of individuals. Across the country and around the world, the news of 'Occupy Wall Street' is being broadcast. It may be that some wish to see the great giant of America, as viewed by some, be taken down a notch. It may be that others feel a solidarity with youth everywhere that are now expressing a fervency and desire for change. Yet more than the specific content is the energy which this very small 'movement' has catalyzed, like the flame of a match or a candle when you first light it, there is a sudden burst of a bright flame, that may, in fact, speak to a readiness within this country, at least within some, to be kindled by a new idealism and hope.
The energy of 'Occupy Wall Street' is the energy of change and hope. It is the energy of the consciousness of America that believes in its own potential for goodness and wants to remove the obstacles that are standing in the way. It is the energy of respect and dignity for the importance of individual human voices speaking out. And it is the energy of those who stand up to be counted who wish to speak for those who are not speaking or who cannot speak. As some within the protest group have stated: "We are the 99%."
This idealism, coming at a time of great change in other countries and great upheavals in some, is part of the Spirit of America. It reflects the wish for goodness, truth, and harmony that can become more of a way of life. And it relfects the desire for all to be included in that goodness, truth, and harmony, rather than some being left out. In this version of the 'Spirit of America,' the voices who speak are speaking for societal redemption, and for the beginning of a new ethic with which to transform a way of life. This new ethic and the energy behind it is the energy of hope for a nation, the energy upon which a new foundation for America can be built.