Something is wrong. We all know it. We all see it. We are subjected day after day, month after month to displays of absurdities and betrayals. We are subjected to a set of rules and regulations of governments and corporations which we had no say in the creation of. We are subjected to the whims of those who hold power, those who live in a world different from ours. A world where the worst sort of crimes are punished with inconveniences. A day in court. A bad news story. A fine so small their bank account is hardly affected. And we take this. I take this. Sure, I complain, you complain, but what good is our freedom of speech if it is not accompanied by action? Sticks and stones may break their bones but mere words will certainly never hurt them.
I know some of you are thinking “but what can we do?” I know this because I’ve thought it a million times, brooding at what’s wrong with the world, what’s wrong with our country, and yet left with no solution, no action to take. But hope is not lost, and I know much of lost hope. Despite the insistence of so many we can do something. We can do something that people around the world are doing as I write this. We can do something that people though the history of our country have done many times. People who have and are changing this country, and the world, for the better.
The obvious question must now be, “What is that something we can do?” And the answer is simple: We can show up. We can show up and we can demand that change happen. Not beg, not ask, not hope, but demand. We can show up and demand that change happen, because despite what you may have learned change, real change, never happens from begging or asking or hoping, it comes from demanding. It comes from showing up and demanding.
The civil rights movement didn’t achieve its goal by asking, it achieved them because hundreds and thousands of people showed up and demanded their rights. It did so because people showed up and demanded and stayed until those in power were forced to recognize their rights. Women didn’t get the right to vote because they hoped for it. They got it because they showed up and demanded and stayed and fought for it. No great change has happened because people hoped or asked or begged or wanted it. Great change has always happened because people showed up and demanded and stayed and fought and wouldn’t take no for an answer.
We’ve tried begging, we’ve tried asking, we’ve tried hoping, all in vain. The problems continue, ignored by those in power who focus on stupid little things by which they divide us. But now we must say “No More!” No more will we let the rich and the powerful control our lives. No more will we let them dictate to us the ways that we interact with each other. No more will we let them control the flow of information. No more will we let them control the country.
We will show up and we will stay and we will demand that they give up control over every little thing. We will show up and we will stay and we will demand and we will fight if need be. We will do this not just for ourselves, because not every woman did so for women’s suffarage and not every black did so for civil rights. We will do so for everyone. We will do so for the poor who worry daily about feeding themselves and their children. We will do so for the for the sick who would be there if not for physical constraints. We will do so for those who don’t even know what the problem is, and may never, but know that they are hurting. We will show up and demand and stay because we know it must happen, because we know there is no other way. We will show up and demand and stay because we are able, despite inconvenience and risk and despite the fact that we are scared and think, even if only in the back of our mind, that it may not work. We will show up. We will stay. And we will demand change.
The question then is where we will show up. At first it seems a difficult question, but an easy answer. Where is the power? Where are the people who control our lives? Where is it that you can commit a thousand crimes and be rewarded for it? Where but Wall street? Only on Wall Street would we hear complaints about limiting bonuses after the biggest economic crash in living memory. Only on Wall Street would we hear complaints about how $500,000 is barely enough to live on. Only on Wall Street would the problems of a bank be more important than the problems of someone about to be kicked out of their home. Only on Wall Street will our demands be heard. Only on Wall Street will they know we are serious. Only on Wall Street.
But it isn’t as if you need to be convinced that Wall Street is a problem, or even the main problem. It isn’t as if you don’t know that those with money are the problem. The only thing you need to be convinced of - hope to be convinced of - is that you can do something about the problem. And you can. You most definitely can. More to the point: We can, we definitely can. We have before. We’re doing it right now, and have been for years. But we’ve been doing it online, and they don’t understand online yet. They saw what happened in Tunisia and Egypt and they still don’t understand online. They don’t understand that we live a very real part of our life online, but they know they must stop it. In the same way many of you don’t understand that we must move beyond just online interaction and action and talk to change things. We must move beyond just online chatter and online action if we are to make them understand that we are serious, and we are serious, but they will never know unless we act in a place and a way that they understand. And that place is Wall Street.
The first foreign organization, or disorganization if you will, that the Tunisian revolutionaries thanked after the government was overthrown was Anonymous. It wasn’t because they were the most powerful or the first, it was because they were the only ones that showed up and demanded and stayed. And that’s what I ask of you now. Show up. Demand. Stay. This is how we translate belief into action, we simply show up. It sounds simple and yet we are all so afraid of it. We are all so afraid that we will be the only ones there that we will give up before the fight is joined. But I will tell you now, I will be there.
I will be there.
If you see the news on that day and there is but one person sitting on Wall Street fighting against this future we are all so against, that person is me. Because I know that whatever else we may disagree on, whatever else we may hate each other about, we know that we are not the enemy. It is those who hold power that are the enemy and we can only defeat them together. So I hope that you will join me, I hope that you can be there with me at the beginning. But if you can’t then I hope you will see me there alone and join me, knowing that we will make a difference.
See you in the future.
See you on Wall Street.