"He paws fiercely, rejoicing in his strength, and charges into the fray. He laughs at fear, afraid of nothing; he does not shy away from the sword. The quiver rattles against his side, along with the flashing spear and lance. In frenzied excitement he eats up the ground; he cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds." - God as quoted in the Book of Job, Chapter 39, Verses 19-24
This stirring quote may only sound familiar because of the beautiful movie about the great champion -- history's beloved "come from behind" horse -- Secretariat.
Is there a champion in this Oakland Ogawa Plaza crowd?
Is there one or perhaps a handful both strong of body and of mind like Secretariat?
Ready to fight fear.
Ready to run when the trumpet sounds.
We will find out today.
The general strike is about to begin.
Watching, we notice a few organizers tapping their feet at the ground and snorting. They are mostly unemployed. Will they be able to convince those who are not...to close their businesses today and join the march?
The clock ticks.
Will those under a warm blanket of jobs and money and health care and benefits be willing to help those without?
Will they stand still "when the trumpet sounds?"
We in the Bay Area have seen many a rally or movement harmed by opportunists who care only for anarchy or self-promotion. Pot stirrers, too, hear a clarion call.
In years past, we have seen professional agitators drawn in from outside the Bay Area... simply begging for confrontation. And they usually got it.
If there is a champion among Occupy Oakland's leaders -- someone with the good sense to be afraid -- can that person or group find the words to unite and to calm?
"He cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds." -- Secretariat's gleeful owner.
The crowd at Ogawa Plaza is a rough and tumble hodgepodge, much like America in these turbulent days.
They see socialism for the rich, but free enterprise for the poor. Without capital, one cannot enter into free enterprise. The banks are closed to this crowd.
America's strongest capitalists are not sharing. At least, that is how the organizers of Occupy Oakland see it.
Social ills created by a lack of compassion remain obvious to this crowd and in this crowd.
Here the homeless are gathered together... drawn by three squares and a tent. Mentally ill are screaming at one another -- one has a stick, swinging it wildly at those who get too close. There is no health care available to him. He is a Vietnam vet. Maybe he wouldn't take help if it was offered. Is he too far gone?
In another corner of Ogawa Plaza, A strong voice reads passages from Henry David Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience." His knees give him away. They are knocking together. But, like Secretariat, he fidgets. He is ready at the starting gate. Could he be a champion?
A woman desperate for a trick asks, "Are you lonely?"
Another Vietnam vet, his dog tags tucked inside his shirt, mumbles about losing his family.
A former Black Panther approaches the microphone. His words seem the most profound of the day. Few are listening. He tells the crowd they must lift one another up. He tells them drug use will destroy their movement. We all smell marijuana in the air.
They are gathering in committees. They are suspicious of my collared shirt and clean hair.
Later I ask my daughter if I had hair under my armpits and a strategically-placed tattoo if they would let me into their heart of hearts.
"They are writing their own stories mom," she says.
Secretariat's owner says, "Let him run his race."
Today they will.