What does the gay movement have to do with Occupy Wall Street? We have a once-empowered class of people challenging powerful bullies. That should sound only too familiar. This is one of those perfect Buckminster Fuller moments of critical mass, a time like when the labor movement initially stood up, Vietnam-era anti-war protesters said, "Enough," feminists marched for equality, and the Stonewall men said, "No more."
It will be difficult to put our economic-collapse genie back in the bottle.
Could the bully power of the 1 percent be why America has fallen so pathetically behind the rest of the world in, well, everything? Because the power to bully is the power to subjugate creativity, entrepreneurial interests, religious tolerance, out-of-the-box thinking, and society at large.
Even if we all deluded ourselves into thinking we had a level playing field, it gave us hope, not to mention those great motivators: idealism, that sense of fairness owed, wrongs to be righted. Or our drive to succeed or exceed society's expectations. Yet we have to ask: is that what America is still about? Believing in the mythical fairness of Wall Street? Of society? A patriarchal ownership of the very financial institutions that now underwrite our political campaigns, judicial process, religions, and corporate America. The 1 percent has proven it does not play fairly. Crazily, the sycophants latch on to the 1 percent to feel themselves empowered. They are fooling themselves and implicitly hurting the 99 percent. Seemingly they somehow remain clueless, intentionally or otherwise.
We can say with certainty now that the proverbial Wall Street "king" has been revealed to have no clothes.
Of economic necessity, good old-fashioned American democracy has come under scrutiny by soccer moms, apple pie, laid-off workers, and the rest of the educated disenfranchised. These were the very dreamers who drank the Democratic "Kool-Aid." They are us -- your neighbors, friends, and families who bought the balloon-payment homes, were scammed by the Enrons and the Madoffs, lost pensions and life savings in planned bankruptcies. Their home mortgages are larger than their equity. These are the people who have lost medical benefits. They were simply pink-slipped by corporate employers whose duty was to profit at any cost. They were abruptly dumped into an economic cauldron of Wall Street making.
Some individuals, societies, cultures, religions, groups, businesses, and living environments try to find an ideal to which all can agree, find harmony, and live in peace. Not so in an oligarchy, where the very, very few control the many. Is this what America has become? Does "one person, one vote" mean anything anymore if one corporation is equal to, what, a million people, votes, dollars? A billion?
Bullying is used to quell. Right-wingers brandish claims that OWS is voiceless, without a leader, and thus without power to effect change. The same was said of most great change movements. Every voice must steep and brew. Direction is found. Vowels come together. Consonants unite. There is strength in words that create sentences that lob paragraphs and whole essays at bullies. It was such with the labor, anti-war, feminist and gay movements; such I believe it will be with OWS. It is in gestation. It is forming, in the parks, on the streets, at the steps of important buildings. In the empty wallets, naïve hearts, and angst-ridden minds of the middle classes. Most importantly, in their voices.
Humankind does not like to be controlled, manipulated, or especially destroyed. We don't like having perceived rights denied us or taken away. Bullying makes the 1 percent feel big, taller, better-looking, more capable, richer, wiser, and just perhaps immortal or omnipotent. Extreme conservatives use bullying as their Christianity litmus test. Racists use bullying to justify their actions. Misogynists use bullying to subdue women; homophobes justify their hate speech against the gay community. OWS will continue from these days forward.
While authorities might force them from the streets and frigid temperatures drive them inside, the very economy created by the 1 percent has imploded on itself. It is the economy, stupid, to quote James Carville. This woefully sad excuse for our once-wonderful democracy has jump-started inquiring minds. No longer will they bear blind allegiance to fund managers, stock brokers, bankers, and unfair employers. The OWS voices have begun to question and roar.
In all likelihood, they cannot be stopped by wind, nor rain, snow, billy clubs, mace, or rubber bullets. They are educated pacifists who can no longer be kept down. The genie is still climbing out of the bottle.