Happy Birthday Occupy Wall Street!
Opening Words Occupy lives on all across America and all across the world. Occupy lives in every American city and in every national capitol on the planet. Occupy continues to fight against the greed and violence of the powerful. Occupy continues to fight against those who are murdering our world with pollution and the profit motive. Occupy continues to fight unfair foreclosures and evictions, to stand with Labor and the rights of workers, to push back against the perpetual wars that suck the life out of everything and everyone.
William Rivers Pitt, Truth-Out
September 17 was the one year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. People in New York and around the country marked the anniversary with celebrations and demonstartions. I was in NY for the weekend, and visited the S16 festivities, a celebration, gearing up for S17, on September 17, with direct actions on Wall Street and demonstrating in Zuccotti Park.
I see a very clear connection between Ethical Culture values and the Occupy Movement. Although there is a great variety of thinking that brings people to participate in Occupy, I see at the core of Occupy, a concern for meeting human needs, including being treated with respect and dignity, and for all people to have their basic needs met – basic things like having adequate shelter, food, healthcare, and education. Income inequality continues to worsen, so some people have enough to meet their basic needs many times over and others do not have enough to meet their most basic needs.
In Ethical Culture we respect each human being and honor the importance of meeting basic needs, so that each person might live the best life possible. And I see a new understanding in Occupy that all of the problems different people want to address with Occupy are actually interconnected, just as we see people being interconnected in Ethical Culture.
We haven't seen much of Occupy in the last several months, but it was clear from the activities of these last several days that as one sign I saw said, "Went home, haven't given up." Another sign was "Still Here." Lots of people have been doing lots of work, holding meetings in person, having teleconferences, and e-mailing to strengthen and clarify the Occupy Movement. As I've been learning more, I know that great thought,and much education has been used to create ever more effective and fair structures for doing the work of Occupy.
Occupiers have reached out to some communities in need, as happened in the Sunset Park neighborhood in Brooklyn, supporting some tenants in a rent strike. And there are lots of other local activities which have been inspired or re-energized by the Occupy Movment. There's a great report about it on DemocracyNow!
The coming focus for this year of Occupy will be around debt. Suzanne Collado, of an organization called Strike Debt, spoke about this topic on DemocracyNow! She said “ over the last year, we found that, more than anything else, people were coming into Occupy because they were affected by debt or outraged by the system of a debt-financed society. And that can be any kind of debt. I had originally worked with the Occupy Student Debt Campaign, who focused on student debt. And over the course of the year, we had been part of changing the conversation nationally around student debt. ...[working with others we formed] Strike Debt. And basically we’re looking at debt overall—so, student debt, medical debt, housing debt, commercial debt, municipal debt, our debt as far as how we wage war on a debt finance—and seeing that our grievances are related, and we are not a loan—L-O-A-N, as well as "alone."
I don't understand the issue of debt all that well, and plan to learn some more about it. There are lots of resources at the StrikeDebt website. http://strikedebt.org/
Even though most people in Ethical Culture can't occupy in-person together, there are opportunities to participate in Occupy Cafes, and Inter-Occupy, which provide online and telephone opportunities to interact.
One year ago, Occupy began. One year from now, I will be a father for the first time. My child will be six months old, and living in a world fraught with peril. It does not have to be how it has been, and for my child, I will Occupy. I will Occupy for an end to greed, for an end to war, for an end to savage inequality, for clean air and water, for safe food and fair work, for the new day that awaits my child if we all, right here, right now, come together and put an end to this madness before it puts an end to us.
Our history is not yet written.
William Rivers Pitt, Truth-Out
Additional Information and Resources
The best piece I have read reflecting on the past year of Occupy and moving forward is on Truth-out by R.A. Myers
A piece written in Rolling Stone Magazine eight months into Occupy Wall Street has an in-depth analysis of some of the issues that Occupy addresses and the Occupy movement itself. My sense is that the Occupy Movement has moved beyond this point, but it is still a thoughtful analysis.
DemocracyNow Roundtable with Francis Fox Piven, awarded the 2011 Elliott-Black Award by the American Ethical Union
Happy Birthday Occupy! (Income Inequality's Still Getting Worse)