Ahhhh, the good ‘ole days of the Occupy Wall Street movement. “Yes, those were the times”, he reflected back to himself.
When it all started in 2011 it was everywhere on the news. As much as he wanted to ignore what was happening or make stupid jokes about how “they’re all just a bunch of hippies or leftists” it was nearly impossible for him to stay in that frame of mind. These people were saying what he had been thinking for the majority of his adulthood thus far. The only real difference between he and these people in New York City was geography. He lived as a broke college student in the southern United States, watching the events unfold with both hesitancy and the growing belief that their message was actually like, really important, and like, profound.
As the movement grew he noticed every walk of life participating; people in suits, homeless, college students, interns, elderly, hippies, conservatives, liberal…basically every kind of person. It wasn’t a matter of “republican vs. democrat” it was consolidated wealth vs. everyone else; the 1 percent vs. the 99 percent; greed vs. fairness. People knew something was wrong with our economic and political system, but for a long time it was hard to know what exactly the issue was. This was the first time when it appeared that people were catching on to more than just what the nightly news had taught us. In fact, most of these people were no longer listening to the nightly news at all. They were studying their own lives and coming up confused. They went to university for 4+ years, only to leave with $40k+ in debt and enter a job market that was limited with income potential minimal. The housing bubble had burst a few years previous and we watched our government absorb the fault and failures of major companies that caused the issue in the first place, creating a bill that we were responsible for. Many of these protestors were working 40+ hours per week in jobs they were over-qualified for and still barely getting by. It didn’t make sense.
He began to watch the online live streams of passionate speeches made in the middle of Wall Street’s financial district, a.k.a. the Zuccotti Park and became utterly convinced that this movement was actually speaking up for him. It represented all of us, minus 1 percent. At the movement’s height 30,000 people demonstrated in or around Zuccotti Park, the Brooklyn Bridge, Union Square, and Foley Square. And that was only NYC. Across the nation and then across the world hundreds of Occupy protests emerged. It was beautiful to watch.
Inevitably, without clear leadership and a strong plan the movement slowly began to get infiltrated by anarchists or a general sense of lethargy. Police had had enough in most of the cities where “occupiers” were taking their stand and the protest was all but forgotten by March 2012. Undoubtedly, some amount of awakening took place throughout the world but nothing large enough to enact effective change to the economic or political structures that favored the extremely rich.
Not until he watched what happened on November 8, 2016.
The Occupy movement may have gone underground and quiet but it never stopped being the heartbeat of so many Americans. The election of Donald Trump is unlikely to be claimed as the desire of the movement, but in a way it is a clear result of what was being argued. The irony of irony’s in the situation is that a “1 percenter” is now trying to become the hero of the “99”. It looks silly at times, and almost downright unbelievable to him, still to this day. Yet, as awkward and uncomfortable as the Occupy movement was at its inception, it began to make sense more with time. Perhaps this President will too?
He holds his breath and continues to watch like everyone else.
This year will be the 7th anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street Movement. Things are beginning to change and perhaps the scales are on their way to becoming more balanced. Yet, what he can’t help but think is that without a more socially active citizenry, a Congress that includes more of whom relate to and can accurately represent millennials, and a general overhaul of what is societally accepted when it comes to the wage gap and big, legacy businesses, the 99 will continue to suffer. Wow, what a run on sentence.
So let’s do something. It doesn’t have to be an “us vs. them” scenario anymore. Let’s just come to the table, listen to each other, learn the concerns and needs of each group and resolve this incredible inequality. Or hell, just stop being so damn greedy you 1 percenters. He may be an idealist but he, like many millennials, believes that there is a way forward that doesn’t mean anyone has to lose.
Let’s just freaking do something and stop waiting for someone else to.