Others say the Arab Spring has arrived in America.
"We the people" have suddenly begun to understand that it's not "Him the people" (The President) or "They the people" (Congress).
We are the ones we have been waiting for. And, we've become disillusioned by and made impatient with wars and corporate greed and political corruption.
What began as a gathering of mainly young people on Wall Street in NYC has, of last count, spread to 36 states and many more cities in a movement some are calling "Occupy the Nation".
Their "Manifesto" reads, in part:
"We are the 99 percent. We are getting kicked out of our homes. We are forced to choose between groceries and rent. We are denied quality medical care. We are suffering from environmental pollution. We are working long hours for little pay and no rights, if we’re working at all. We are getting nothing while the other 1 percent is getting everything. We are the 99 percent."
The signs they carry are not ad hominem attacks on the President or any particular member of Congress or specific wealthy persons.
Instead, they carry messages like: "The NYPD is one pay check away from being a member of our movement."
"Democracy is not a spectator sport."
"No more corruption."
"Wall Street = War Street"
"I can't afford a lobbyist. I am the 99%".
"Arrested yesterday. Back today. This movement will sweep the nation. We are the 99%".
And, on every sign I've seen, there are no spelling errors. Not. One.
That alone gives me hope.
They have been joined by postal worker unions and teacher unions as well as their parents and grandparents who carry signs that read, "Granny Peace Brigade".
“We are unions, students, teachers, veterans, first responders, families, the unemployed and underemployed. We are all races, sexes and creeds. We are the majority. We are the 99 percent. And we will no longer be silent,” read a post on the Occupy Wall Street website.On October 1st, approximately 1,500 people occupied the Brooklyn Bridge. At the end of the day, approximately 700 of them had been arrested.
It has been documented by eye-witness accounts as well as photo and video that certain high-ranking members of the NYPD punched, threw, and stepped on peaceful marchers. Reportedly, those who were arrested were handcuffed so tight their hands turned blue. And then there was the report that a senior police officer forced women into pens and maced them at point-blank range.
Ah, the NYPD has yet to learn that there is no greater force than martyrdom.
Seems our politicians haven't learned that lesson, either.
They've tried to make martyrs of us all, sacrificial offerings on the Altar of Greed. It seems that "we the people" just aren't going to take this lying down. If we are going to be martyrs to a cause, it will be the cause of our choosing and we'll fight back the whole way.
Well, at least some of us will. More and more of us every day, it seems.
It reminds me of my work with ACT-UP in the 80s. ACT-UP stands for "AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power". And, that's exactly what it did. It took all the anger and frustration about the lack or response from the government and medical and scientific communities (and yes, even churches, synagogues and temples) and turned it into demonstrations and street-theater and political action.
I don't think it's my ego, but I am convinced that, without a movement like ACT-UP, we would not have the treatment opportunities we have today for People With AIDS.
Without ACT-UP, AIDS would not be, for many people in this country, a treatable, long-term disease with terminal implications. It would not have the international spotlight it has today, bringing treatment and medicines to places in the Global South.
I hope that Occupy Wall Street will have a similar affect on political corruption and corporate greed.
I encourage you to support them in anyway you can. No one is asking for money. This isn't that kind of movement. Support them with your prayers. Support them with your encouragement and enthusiasm. Support them with your vote to elect people to Congress who WILL represent us.
And, if you can, join them with your presence.
I'm planning to join them when they come to Wilmington, DE. I hope to join them when I'm back in New York. You can find a list of actions and movements in your neck of the woods by visiting "Occupy the Nation".
Remember: It's WE the people.
We are the ones we have been waiting for.