With the recent eviction of protesters from McPherson Square, it would be extremely easy to say that Occupy DC in the nation's capital is dead. Think again. Just as the oak tree has not died in the fall with the loss of leaves, neither has Occupy DC.
The parallels with one of nature's mightiest plants go deeper.
During the winter, the oak tree is busy doing several things that to the unawares aren't seen or noticed. Life continues. Healing takes places. Growth is building up ready to burst in the spring.
The oak tree uses late winter and fall to heal and repair. Just as humans need regular rest to recover from the scars of life, the oak has an annual cycle... and does Occupy DC.
From October 2011 until February 4, 2012, Occupy DC made many mistakes. McPherson Square slowly became the focus of the movement and many -- too many -- people become more concerned about saving 1.6 acres of encampment than they did about continuing to make the changes which had originally brought them together.
Standards of accepted behavior were always lowered. While the protesters made great strides towards being all inclusive of race, age, sex, etc., too often unacceptable behaviors were tolerated because of the desire to "let people be people." The decision was made -- almost too late, it seems -- to tell people that while they were loved, they couldn't be a part of the movement and continue to get drunk publicly and abuse illegal substances. A result from this was almost nightly fights and regular, routine visits from the National Park Police as well as Metropolitan City Police. The profile of McPherson Square was changed from that of a protest vigil to a trouble spot requiring -- and consuming -- too many resources of law enforcement.
"Anarchy" was allowed to run amuck. While some forms of anarchy are good and healthy for a growing community and nation, too many are not. And it was the wrong kind of anarchists that were allowed residency in McPherson Square and it was the anarchists who were responsible for much of the violence and militant behavior that resulted in the entire Occupy DC movement being tainted. The behavior and misbehavior of approximately a dozen people ruined everything for almost 200 people.
Again, the bar of expectations was lowered and intolerable behavior was tolerated.
As Occupy DC goes through the winter of 2012, people are re-grouping. Plans are being made anew. Expected standards of behavior are being explored as are the ways and means to enforce them. It's easy to blame the "twentysomethings" for the failings. The blame, however, doesn't belong to them alone. It belongs to us 40- and 50-somethings who have gotten comfortable with the system and have become dependent upon the system for our livelihood and entertainment.
The twentysomethings have not had a good protest model to follow for fifty years. They've wasted much time in re-inventing the wheel. Those of us who are older and remember the 60s need to "man up" and offer our support -- physical, emotional, financial -- to this group of sharp, developing men and women who can drive our country back to being the great force it once was.
And just as springtime comes with new hope, new energy and new dreams, Occupy DC will come out of the winter of wrong thinking and wrong behavior refreshed and ready to "stop the machine."
Jerry Nelson is a nationally recognized photojournalist and adventure photographer. His work has appeared in many national, regional and local publications including CNN, USAToday, Upsurge, Earthwalkers and Associated Content and he is a regular contributor to Huffington Post as well as OpEdNews. Nelson travels the country seeking out the people, places and things that make America unique and great. Nelson currently is in Washington D.C. pointing his camera at OccupyDC.
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