Friday, December 30, 2011

Is the Spirit of "Occupy" Dead?

Is the Spirit of “Occupy” Dead?

For months we have all been inundated with news stories about the “Occupy Wall Street” movement. Since its inception, it has branched out all around the world and taken on names such as Occupy Austin, San Francisco, Seattle, New Orleans, Berlin, Sydney, Melbourne, Limerick… and so on. Lately may of the protesters have moved out of their thrown-together camps, likely having succumbed to boredom, or the cold, or most likely, a sense of futility. 

There are still some hangers-on, though, as evidenced by this article from Ireland. The title is what made me want to read it (as well as a personal connection with the author). “Ireland’s Spirit Is Just Dead.” No doubt those words echo the feelings of many who have succumbed to boredom or futility. In the five or six months since this Occupy business started, not much has changed, has it? Not achieving any of their requests after six months might make one feel that the spirit of their people is "just dead."

Why hasn't the world changed? A friend, an Occupy sympathizer, showed me what might pass for a manifesto of the Occupiers. Their objectives are so broad and system-shaking that when faced with the practical aspect of the revolution they require, the mind boggles at the breadth of it. Did they really expect that the world would be converted to a renewable fuel infrastructure in a few months? Or that the economic system would outlaw credit reporting agencies overnight? Or that the world’s countries would suddenly simply ignore their own borders (especially countries like China, Syria, North Korea, Iran or Afghanistan)? In the current scheme of things, such a revolution would take decades to orchestrate, even if the entire world were on board with the whole thing.

Many feel a love-hate sympathy for the Occupiers. As the Irish article points out, there’s about a fifty-fifty sympathy for and against the Occupiers. Even I applaud their lofty ideas, but have grown so sick of hearing about Occupy This and Occupy That that I’ve intentionally avoided reading or watching anything to do with the movement. Perhaps you have too. The clearest reason for the negativity is the way the protesters have been going about it. How exactly will sitting around a makeshift camp lamenting the lack of jobs create jobs? How will whining about the “economic inequality” of the world make everyone’s incomes more equal? Quite simply, it won’t.

So how should the Occupiers go about with their earth-shattering changes? Rest assured, sitting around what is basically a hobo camp won’t do it. After much thoughtful irritation, it dawns on me that perhaps the most annoying aspect of the movement is that the Occupy people keep complaining about the way things are, but don’t seem to be doing anything about it. I mean really doing something. If your house is a mess, even if you didn’t mess it up, complaining about the mess won’t clean it up. Only you picking up trash, scrubbing the floors and counters and cleaning the laundry and dishes will clean it. A pain in the ass? Of course it is! But that’s life. Likewise, complaining about the mess others have created in the world won’t clean it up. Those that created the mess - the bankers, the government, the corporations, the oil companies - don’t have to clean it up. It works fine for them just the way it is. Occupiers can make noble-sounding, high-minded quotes all they want, but it won’t help. No, like the one who had to clean up his house that was a mess, the Occupiers need to make the world the way they think it should be - by doing it themselves. 

Get a job as a teller at that bank you hate. Move up the chain until you’re in a position to make the change you think needs to be made.

Run for office. Maintain your ideals (because really, when was the last time a public official was "in it" for the benefit of the public, rather than for themselves?). Make the changes you think need to made there. Run for a higher office. Repeat. 

Go get a degree as an engineer. Invent a way to make renewable fuels the standard. Become CEO of the oil company and refocus their business on what you think it should be. 

Keep in touch with your Occupy friends and continue to coordinate your plans until the world is better. The infrastructure is there to do so. Occupy has used Twitter, texting, email, cell phones and so on to coordinate their protests. Make certain that none of you become corrupted with wealth and power (ah! That's the tricky part, isn't it?) Sure, all that will take decades to accomplish. But it would take decades anyway, as we mentioned. Does all that sound like a pain in the ass? Well, it is! But, as we said, that’s life. 

You see, the thing that sticks in people’s craw about Occupy isn’t so much the way things are or the way things should be, it’s that the Occupy people want someone else to fix the problems they want fixed instead of doing it themselves. Is the spirit of Ireland dead? Or the spirit of America or Australia or Japan or England or whatever? No! Clearly it isn’t, since vociferous people like the Occupiers are trying to make themselves heard. But will they take the example of our forefathers, who established this country and our freedoms by doing what they thought was right themselves? America and its freedom, its ingenuity, its spirit and its people come from a group of people who saw that the status quo was wrong, as do the cultures of many other countries, like Ireland. Instead of complaining to the media and the internet, they themselves created a new way of life for the country. It wasn’t easy, and yes, it took decades and yes, it was a pain in the ass. But it was done and gives the world a shining example of how to make the world a better place.

Is the spirit of Ireland dead? Is America’s spirit dead? Or anywhere the Occupy movement has taken root? If those Occupiers, themselves, do nothing to right the wrongs they perceive and wait for someone else to clean up the mess, then yes, that spirit is dead. And no camp or protest or movement will resurrect it. 

Don’t complain about anything you’re not willing to do something about yourself. No matter how much of a pain in the ass it is.

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