I Am Here (17 Nov 11)
I am here.
I went because I felt it was my duty, either in support or out of protest of. Because I wanted to end the speculation and know that my words would bear truth because “I am here”.
Still, days later, I am here. I walk down the streets of Manhattan and I hear the constant presence of helicopters, ominous, looking down on us from above, making sure we are all behaving. I am here and that is what it feels like.
I was here on September eleventh. I was here for the weeks following. Police filled the streets of New York City, yet I saw no riot cops ever. Our landmarks were being protected by the United States National Guard and, still, no helmets on the ground. I have lived here for twelve and half of the past fifteen years and I can recollect no time in all of those years seeing the cancerous presence of the New York Police Department I now do nor felt the kind of power that is pushing them from behind. Make no mistake, please. They are not the recipients of this protest. This is not a statement against the NYPD. Though not endless, the respect is healthy.
What I see, here, what I have seen, what I have felt and what I have logically connected together, here, adds up to one conclusion for me.
There is never a reward for the common man in the present. But, when you look back on your life, you will understand that, although you have not defined the lifetime of any one person, what you have done will always live as a part of their lives. One small rock guiding the river to the ocean.
“There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” (Victor Hugo, Les Miserables)
It is very easy to dismiss what it is we don’t know. When a person with an extreme personality enters your life, it takes far less effort to cast him off than to take the time to understand him. And, mind you, I do not imply acceptance when I say to understand. I mean simply to listen and not form a conclusion until you are long back into your own life, and you have the silence and the safety of your personal space to observe how your virtues and theirs fold together. Looking past the words and understanding the lifetime of experience that has drawn those words out of another person is what humanity is about. We have forgotten that we have the power of reason, that just because you are not with an idea does not mean you must be against it.
We are here. There are three hundred million of us, and that’s just under this flag. Whether we are strong enough to admit it or not, every one of us is responsible for the condition of the United States of America today. There is not one person exempt. We live in a Democracy. We fight for this Democracy daily. We send our family members and high school friends to be sacrificed because we are so adamant about clinging tightly to the idea of this Democracy. Choosing a representative from among us every two to four years while exonerating ourselves is not how Democracy works. It means effort. It means, every day, educating yourself, read and discuss information you receive, knowing what bills are on the floor and what they mean, attending town hall meetings, attending city council meetings, sitting in on court houses when in session…it means constantly making your voice heard and being an active component.
To me, that is what this movement is. It means sacrifice, the one effect of our nature that we are adamant to deny.
There are people, A LOT of them, who believe that OWS needs a big march or demonstration in Washington, at least 500,000 to a million people, in order to prove legitimacy and to create any real change. I hope they do not follow that advice. This is about implementing change at home, not over-throwing the government. I’d rather see 50,000 people marching on their capitals in 10-20 states nationwide. If it truly is a horizontal movement, then stand up from “sea to shining sea”.
No one really wants every bank to close down and anarchy to reign. What people want are their voices heard. I had my voice heard the other day and I am still riding that high. My adrenaline still gets flowing when I think about the thirty two thousand, five hundred people surrounding me, all equally discontent with the state of the this nation, but united, peacefully, to begin the slow process of change.
There is comfort in knowing I do not need to believe what is told to me because I have seen it all myself. I am part of active Democracy. I am the voice of the people because I am one of those people. I know you are as well. This movement, to me, is a platform to allow you to come out, talk with random strangers, your brothers and sisters who all live by the collective rules of the Constitution and the various other founding indoctrinations that have guided the formation of our society.
Whether you are conservative in your belief or not, whether you identify with a political party or a religious faction, we all want health, we all want to be happy, we all don’t want to be told what to do and we’re all pretty sick of people not listening to us. This is not a corporation vs. government issue. They are both wrong, and we are better with neither if we do not hold them accountable to the same principles we abide by in our own personal lives. When I was alone in this enormous mob of people and I knew that I could find a friend among any of them, that I could find food or water or an answer or just someone to be there regardless of where or who I turned to, I finally began to understand what we are about, what this is about. It has reconnected me with the spirit of giving, with my humility and with the knowledge that my life begins at my compassion for others and continues through the selflessness of needing others.
I wish people would speak a little less and listen a bit more. This is not an organization. This is just you and I, talking, listening and slowly, one person at a time, trying to figure this whole thing out, and to collectively understand how to improve it.
I am grateful to have gotten this experience and grateful to be living in this moment in human history.