October 23, 2011

They have been called socialists, anarchists, hippies, naïve dreamers, ignorant kids, unemployed bums, and un-American.

According to occupywallst.org, the Occupy Wall Street movement “is fighting back against the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process” and “aims to expose how the richest 1% of people who are writing the rules of the global economy are imposing an agenda of neo-liberalism and economic inequality.” In my opinion, Occupy Wall Street sounds rather informed and deliberate. I wonder if the average American is even familiar with the term “neo-liberalism.”

Occupy Wall Street considers itself part of the 99% whose voice no longer matters because corporate influence has turned our democracy into a sham. It saddens and angers me to watch the corporate media denigrate a group of intelligent, organized, and passionate people who are trying to communicate a simple message: greed is the source of corruption; and our political process has become entirely corrupt. Yet, greed, self-indulgence, and consumerism remain the fundamental values that underpin our economy, society, and culture. 

While the participants of Occupy Wall Street are of all ages, there is no denying that most are young people in their 20s; hence, many older people dismissing them as naïve, lazy, or worse. As someone in their 20s, I would like to attempt to shed some light on why I believe people all over our country are currently participating in marches, sit-ins, non-violent demonstrations, and peaceful occupations.

Our generation does not see a society where people who work hard are rewarded. We see a society where the cruelest, most morally bankrupt version of “survival of the fittest” is the order of the day; and the “fittest” are the wealthy and the corrupt. Not only does this conflict with the spiritual values we have been taught, it conflicts with the type of society we would like to live in. We feel that we should be able to influence our society because we have also been taught that in a democracy the government ought to be “of the people, by the people, for the people.” Our generation sees a political system wherein both parties write and pass laws designed to enrich corporations at the expense of the common good, or the promotion of the “general Welfare.”

Our generation no longer understands what the “American Dream” is supposed to be. We see schools that only care about measurable test results, rising tuition costs that lead to debt, and a lack of meaningful work. We are told to “play the game,” but the game is increasingly rigged against us and it is no longer something we want to engage in. Our society is governed by self-interest, greed, consumerism, and exploitation, both human and environmental. Why should we perpetuate something that is bad for the environment and bad for our souls?

Our generation no longer cares about the disagreements of the Baby Boomer generation. The last 30 years have proven that de-regulation, trickle-down economics, globalization of capital, and free trade (all of which constitute neo-liberalism) are simply increasing inequality and increasing environmental destruction. We don’t care if taxing the top 1% is “class warfare,” or if universal healthcare is “socialism,” or if renewable energy is “hippie.” We want to live in a society where people, animals, and the environment are seen as intrinsically valuable, worthy of respect, and deserving of appreciation.

We believe that we can organize society to reflect our values. People in other countries have already begun to resist neo-liberalism. The only thing preventing the United States of America from being the greatest country on Earth is the fact that our leaders insist that we already are. We refuse to learn from others and resist becoming part of the global community. The American Empire exported neo-liberalism all over the globe; and the rest of the world has already experienced the destructiveness of such policies, which is why Occupy Wall Street is becoming a global movement. Its criticism is aimed not at a particular political party, but at the underlying economic and social policies of the industrialized world.

We didn’t ask for the world you gave us. The least you can do is lend us your ear, the most you can do is lend us a hand.



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