As a native New Yorker, the Occupy Wall Street movement is one that I try to stay appraised of while attending to my studies at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA. I understand the reason behind the movement, Wall Street executive salaries are ridiculous and they need to understand that the average American doesn't appreciate their extravagance. However, the movement seems to have become less focused in recent weeks.
A few friends who attended a rally over a recent weekend told me that they "went to hang out with other friends" or that they "got dragged to it" or that they "thought it was the cool thing to do." Not one of them could define the overall goal of the movement. That lack of clarity, of a clear sense of mission, gives me pause and is what is keeping me from actively participating in OWS and its associated movement here in Lancaster.
Admittedly, my entire life has been one spent rebelling against 'the herd' mentality. I refused to read Harry Potter when my classmates started obsessing over it in 2nd or 3rd grade. They kept telling me that I "just had to read it, because everyone else was reading it." To me that was a red flag, and continues to be one to this day. It wasn't that I didn't like magic and wizards. It was the fact that no one seemed to understand why they were reading it for themselves, just that they had to do it.
That being said, I wasn't anti-Harry forever. Eventually I became hooked as well and proudly read The Goblet of Fire in 3 days, the fastest of anyone in my class. Why did I start reading Harry Potter? Because I picked one up in the library one day and let the book entrap my pre-teen imagination. I decided for myself that it was something worth reading, I didn't want my friends to make that decision for me.
So now, in 2011, Harry Potter is OWS and a lot of my friends want me to whole heartedly support this movement to... umm... uhh... stand in the street and complain about how fat someone else's wallet is. Maybe it's "to protest the greed that the capitalist system has created" according to a friend. Or rather it's the movement that will continue until an end that has not been articulated yet.
For OWS to gain my full support, I personally need the above paragraph to become one coherent statement that plainly states a reason, a purpose and an end goal for the movement. Until then, there is no reason that OWS couldn't be Occupy Major Sports Arenas to protest the exorbitant salaries of professional athletes. It could also be Occupy Your Nearest Republican Party Headquarters because there is a misguided sense that everyone on Wall Street is a die-hard conservative Republican. Why not Occupy Luxury Car Dealerships to prevent the fat-cats from buying a new Aston-Martin, Ferrari or Porsche?
I jest, but my point is this: OWS needs to regroup and find their mission. Once they have that, they should disseminate that mission to both their followers and detractors in one explicit message. I acknowledge that that is a difficult task now, but until they manage that, no one will really know what OWS is all about.
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