CNN today featured an editorial by an eminent historian, Felipe Fernandez-Armesto in which he claims that the events of 2011 were insignificant. I sent the email (below) to him in response.
Dear Dr. Fernandez-Armesto,
I'm writing concerning your editorial on CNN today in which you claimed that in 2011, nothing changed. My name is Dave Crossley, I'm 52 years old and I live in Charleston SC. In 2011 everything changed for me, and I'd like to share an experience which, I feel may have a significant bearing on the broader narrative.
I've always been interested in politics, passionate even. When I went to school, we had a course in middle school called 'Civics class' in which citizenship was discussed and taught. I don't think they do this in schools anymore. So I've been very aware of politics from a very early age. In over thirty years of voting, I've never missed voting in a general election.
Having said that, I've always been a cynic. I was a child during the sixties, and the level of civic involvement during that decade set the bar pretty high. That's why I never got involved in politics. I knew that they would want work from me, and I frankly wasn't convinced that the cause was dire enough to merit my ongoing participation.
In 2011, that changed.
In late October of 2011, I went up to Columbia, SC and spent a night with the folks of Occupy Columbia, sleeping on the grounds of the Statehouse. The state, at that time prohibited tents. It was about forty degrees F on the ground and the grass was soaked and I was trying to get to sleep in my sleeping bag on a pad that wasn't quite wide enough. About 1AM, I got up and looked around me. Across the street was a huge bank, all glass and steel, pouring out a blaze of light. Behind me was the great concrete monolith of the State House, symbol of state power. And around me, huddled on the wet grass, silhouetted in the cold sodium lights were The People.
Dr. Fernandez-Armesto, at that moment I had a clarity of vision that I had never had before. My cynicism got blown away and I understood what all those civics classes and sixties demonstrators were trying to tell me: The cause is here and now. The situation is desperate. If we don't rescue democracy now, it will be too late tomorrow.
So what changed in 2011? I changed. And the revolution began.
Thanks so much for your time and attention,