A title like this implies I might have spent my day sewing something cool. Or developing/perfecting a new recipe to share on here. Or harvesting my own homegrown veggies. Actually, I spent it protesting at Occupy Boston.
I know what you’re thinking. I thought this was an environmentalist blog, not a political activist’s soapbox.
And you’re right. But I’ve been thinking about something lately. I could change everything about my life so my carbon footprint was absolutely zero. Now, that’s not really possible, but even if I could, that wouldn’t change a thing, wouldn’t be a drop in the bucket. I could get all the people around me to change, or at least to do a little better than they’re doing now. Still, it wouldn’t make a lick of difference. I mean, we should all still do what we can, but, it’s really not going to make that much of an impact. We’ve got to change the policy that provides the biggest polluters with a free pass. Otherwise, we can’t even hope to make a dent in restoring our environment. And to do that, we need a government that represents us. All of us. Not just those who have the means to fund their own lobbyists. That’s why I marched yesterday.
Now, I’m not going to get all preachy here. But I do want to quickly describe my own take on the Occupy Boston movement, in my own words, based on my own experiences, and not endorsed by the Occupy Movement. I feel like there’s a lot of misinformation out there, and my perspective is that some people dismiss the movement for just being a bunch of disorganized, fringe, leftist hippies living in a tent city and whining about how they don’t have any money. And that’s not it at all.
So what is it all about?
It’s about asking for action to curb corporate greed and the usurping of the whole political system by the few (usually corporations and their big lobbies) who then use the system for their own benefit, usually to the detriment of the general population. And this all while leaving the environmental costs unaccounted for, externalizing them onto the backs of everyone. The rest of us pay for their exploitation in many ways: environmental degradation, lost benefits, decreased (or nonexistent) healthcare, reduced wages, job losses, disbanding of unions, discontinuation of pension plans, and the list goes on and on. It’s also about Citizens United and the Supreme Court ruling that corporations are people, and deserve the same rights as individuals. Corporations are made up of people, each an individual unto themselves. Counting the corporation as well is to give them more than one vote, or more influence than they should rightly have. And they already have the money to buy lots of influence to start with. We should be limiting that and not adding to it. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not against corporations, just the excessive greed that exploits people and resources for extra money. And I’m against their power to almost exclusively shape the policies that allow their behavior to continue unchecked.
There’s a growing divide between the top 1% of wage earners and the bottom 99%, and right now, the top 1% has a grossly disproportionate say in our government actions and policy. We want something closer to of, by, and for all the people, not just the top 1%. The Occupy Movement is not leftist, rightist, or exclusive. It invites everyone who wants to be heard and to have a say in our government policy to speak up. It is for all of us in the 99% and invites us all to be included.
Basically, the idea is to get out and occupy the streets that are already (or should be) ours in the first place, funded by our tax dollars. Occupying a section of a park or marching through the streets is simply a statement that, “hey, this is ours too.” But bigger than that, it’s about demanding to be heard, respected, and included in the political process, all while practicing nonviolence. And it’s about sending a message to the biggest players in corporate greed (big banks and Wall Street), so naturally, the space for Occupy Boston is right in the financial district.
Sure, there are always going to be people out there who have their own pet projects they’re fighting for (legalize marijuana, forgive student loans, anarchy, disbanding of corporations altogether, closing prisons, etc.) but the majority of the people there—in my perspective and experience—were protesting corporate greed that got us into this mess. I saw someone with a sign that said “We’re not disorganized, America just has too many issues.” I think that about sums it up.