One day last fall, I ventured over to Zuccotti Park where protesters of the Occupy Wall Street movement had set up their base camp. As someone who has spent their entire career on Wall Street and by definition falls into the class divide of the one percent, I am a part of the very establishment protested by this movement.
Although I felt some sense of responsibility, I don’t deny that my objective that day was to ultimately discredit the protesters, whom I felt were attacking my livelihood. According to the media, the movement lacked organization and a well articulated goal – and that is what I set out to validate for myself.
Much as I had heard, the crowd was an assembly of young rebels and drifters, the unemployed and the unemployable, some homeless, some drug addicts and a few cat ladies. Not much credibility among them. They were disorganized and aimless and would have followed anyone who was willing to lead them – if I had microphone and amp, I could have even rallied the movement to follow me down the street and into the East River like the Pied Piper.
But despite the movement’s lack of leadership and well formulated plan, the VIBE of the protest was right. When 24 million of America’s people can’t find a full-time job, 50 million can’t see a doctor when they’re sick, 15 million owe more on their home than it is worth and 47 million need government help to feed themselves – it is unequivocal – our system IS broken.
I am supportive of activism and in many ways am even supportive of this cause, despite my career. Like so many Americans, I too have a mortgage that is underwater and although I have a job today there is no guarantee that I will have a job tomorrow. And if I were to lose my job, my bills would go unpaid with same consequences of foreclosure that face the 99%.
It is now March 2012. This movement which was quiet through the winter months has begun to re-surge and this time with a greater degree of organization. The mission is now clearly articulated on the Occupy website which is “fighting back against the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations, and the role of Wall Street in creating an economic collapse that has caused the greatest recession in generations.”
But the economy is starting to show signs of improvement. Recent economic data suggests that unemployment is decreasing with jobless claims at their lowest level in four years. As the economy continues to grow the anger which has fueled the Occupy movement will begin to subside. Over time, most of the Occupy protesters will come to accept that social injustice is in the fabric of every society – and the rest of the protesters, will just go to work.