I struggle with the Occupy movement. In less than a month it has gone from a single location to multiple sites worldwide. The NYC location was visited recently by CNN and the reporter described food distribution, donated clothing distribution and more. What began as a largely unfocused effort is manifesting the self organizing principle of life, which evolves from the simple to the ever more complex. If it lasts another month, what will it look like?
Yet I can not get the image out of my head of the protester interviewed by CNN talking head Erin Burnett. Burnett's approach struck me as vacuous, but the protester's responses were not any better. She looked like an updated version of the hippies of my time and sounded like one. I wonder who is her generation's Cheech and Chong, or George Carlin? The protester was sure of one thing; her rights had been violated and I immediately thought back to the days of the 68 riots at the Chicago Democratic Convention, the race riots, and the antiwar protesters of my time. Water hoses, police beatings, attacks by police dogs, and finally the shootings at Kent State marked those events. That's what I call violating rights. I turned off Erin and her guest because it was just too painful to watch the two of them try to sound hip and sophisticated.
The right wing is not quite apoplectic over the 99%ers, although some Congressmen may be. Representative Peter King was quoted as saying:
I'm taking this seriously in that I'm old enough to remember what happened in the 1960s when the left-wing took to the streets and somehow the media glorified them and it ended up shaping policy. We can't allow that to happen.
Representative Eric Cantor called them a "mob" but is backing away from that characterization. Now he is looking at putting the spotlight on Obama's administration for all of this discontent. In the meantime, Facebook postings that I have seen emphasize public defecation, burning flags, and occasionally that stubborn lack of focus. So much for meaningful discussion there.
In the end it is the focus, and lack of it, that troubles me. So I was particularly cheered by this blog entry at Transition US. Transition does not have a position on this activity, but the blogger captures my feelings and offers alternatives that the 99%ers may want to consider. Life is changing and if their expectation is that we can bring back the good old days they are mistaken. Change will come. It will be hard. It can be managed if we step up and face those changes now.
I am reminded of a story told by a consultant to the IRS management team in Boston back in '89. The torpedo of change is always coming at you. Your choice is watch for it and deal with it, or bury your head in the sand like an ostrich, with your ass up in the air to be blown off. The Occupy movement could be a catalyst for real change if its participants wake up to the reality that they cannot expect the economy to ever resume its go-go growth past. Otherwise, their asses will get blown off, and I don't want to even consider where that may take us as a society and a country.