It had been many years down that road. The dead-end jobs, the low pay, the work piled on day in and day out; the police harassment, fines doubled up on minor non-moving traffic violations that I couldn't pay, leading to license suspension, which led to losing out on job opportunities, not to mention a generally very difficult life; the landlords' threats of eviction, the callous words of those who knew my predicament. I had thought often: This can't be it: The drudgery, the stress, barely able to pay the rent or make sure there's groceries in the cupboard, the strain on relationships. To top it off, my health was beginning to fail, and I had no means of taking care of it; in fact I'd had my wages garnished for medical bills, arguing with the judge that it was absurd that I couldn't get forgiveness for medical bill debt but I could if it were credit card debt; sort of like my student loan debt which was another one of the plagues dragging me down; and sort of like how I couldn't get the suspension on my license lifted for purposes of using it for work, though I could have if I'd been ticketed for driving under the influence of alcohol (which I was informed of at my local Driving and Motor Vehicles agency). All the while I'd heard rhetoric about compassion and care but witnessed abuse on the job and homelessness in the street. Does it all sound familiar? Well, now it does. It happens to be part of the political dialogue now.
But prior to September 2011, I never heard these issues in the news or anywhere except banging on the inside of my skull. So, when I was surfing the Internet, it was there and not the national news networks that I saw that a growing group of protesters were protesting these very things that gnawed at me, the things which broke me down, the things which often made me reflect, “There's got to be a better way. This can't be the rest of my life.”
Well, when I saw video of those masses of people converging on New York City to protest a broken system, to nail it to the wall, to point out the source of the corruption which infects the whole world with oppression and misery; well, one word can express what I felt: Finally.
And the fact that these protesters were doing something entirely new, not operating within the confines of the existing order; well, that even more so spoke directly to my own condition. Because I had already established very well in my mind that there is something terribly wrong with the whole thing: The disregard, the slavery, the domination, the competitive social order, the struggle for bare necessities. Once a person sees the destructiveness and falsity of all that, there is no turning back. No patchwork reform or common rhetoric will appease.
And that's what Occupy Wall St appeals to in a person like myself: In that, I realized that I was not alone. We cannot follow the old order any longer. And when a group of rag-tag kids went to Zuccotti Park and camped out, they had no plan, no leaders; that would have been the old order, the divisions and ideology, the falling in line, and the veiled authority, the divided solutions that looked away from a true understanding and penetration of the problem itself. They just had an insight into what the problem is and the guts to point it out. And they had the guts to ask the more difficult questions, like whether anyone should have to struggle for food or be forced to work in a system that breaks down the heart and mind and body, when we have the technological capacity and resources to take care of everyone: It's just we do not feel the need to have that kind of world, we put profits before people. In a truly open forum, which the political process does not actually provide, we should be able to ask such deeper and more penetrating questions like whether the economic system destroys both brain and body, as well as the planet.
In this way, responsibility is not merely the easy route of conformity, but the ability to point out what is wrong and begin something entirely new. Ultimately, Occupy Wall St has shown, through true and direct action, that it is entirely up to us.
For this reason, Occupy Wall St is always news to me.
Here is a video I created which pretty much exemplifies my feelings on the existing social and economic order.