Mountain Stream by Bear
As a citizen of this country, I thought my voice was equal to that of any other voice in any debate regarding government, politics, rights, laws, and representation. It is. I question that sturdy principle only because someone has challenged me to believe otherwise. Not someone. Quite a few people. The members of the Occupy movement.
I wrote out the foundations, principles, grievances, redress sought, and action needed that the Occupy movement identified in the Proposed Petition for Redress and Pledge of Action. I did so in measured tones, not the vitriol and resentment that erupts from the occupiers' declarations. I was quite faithful to what the Occupy movement stands for. I strongly believe in the change the occupiers seek.
I also stated a very simple purpose. From the work the occupiers have done, let us build a consensus among the 99 percent that change is needed in this country. If, indeed, the Occupy movement has captured the desires of the 99 percent, why not go to the 99 percent one by one and ask them if they are ready for change now? Why not use the apparatuses of the political structures already in place to contact the 99 percent individually and demonstrate unequivocally that the Occupy movement has illuminated our path?
Given their declarations, I thought the occupiers would welcome my advice to step forward and reach out to the 99 percent while they were still energized and relevant.
I started out trying to speak to the Occupy movement invisibly, trying to lend a hand, trying to use my intellect, training, and expertise to make a difference. I am quite good at analyzing political change movements. I knew this was not about me. I thought my voice would be heard. I thought my words would be considered. I am by nature modest. I am uninterested in the limelight. However, I do want to be listened to when I speak, particularly when I speak on a subject of which I have some knowledge. No one responded.
I was told that trying to have my voice heard required that I use my full name, that I must come into view, that I display my credentials for all to see. I wasn't credible unless I showed my diplomas, gave my first, middle, and last name. I became visible. I made a few friends along the way. I was warmly received here and there. One occupier responded to something I wrote in a Yahoo group. She angrily denounced me. More recently, I have been accused of being an operative. And today, I was told I am an outlier/outsider who has insulted the General Assemblies for failing to follow protocol by not going through a working group to be heard.
At the same time, I have sent messages to politicians, organizations, newspapers, and others. I continue to state the same thing. The Occupy movement has identified something. We all agree that what they identified is worthwhile. We all need to work together. Let's start by asking every American citizen if he or she is ready for change. Ask enough people, get enough nods, the powers that be will be forced to make those changes. A simple process.
In the great world of comment, punditry, influence, and opinion, I am on the edge of the periphery. I am a political scientist by training, but have had no contact with any others in that field for two decades. I suggested, in print, that Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden switch jobs a full month before anyone else. Accordingly, I assume I have pretty good analytical skills. However, I have never been paid a dime to use those skills or that training aside from teaching many years ago and one course last fall.
I was chastised today by an activist for being an outsider and expert coming down from my mountaintop and failing to follow the protocols established to communicate with the Occupy movement.
I am an outsider only because I have not gone to an encampment. But why does a movement that claims to represent the 99 percent have membership requirements?
I am told no one will listen to me because I don't follow protocols. Is it absurd or perverse that a movement that claims to disavow the existing political structures is so Byzantine in its requirements to participate?
I am not to be trusted because I am an expert. How does a movement that claims to want to learn from one another decide someone has too much knowledge to be of any use?
Each day, as I drive to work on Route 4, I traverse the western edge of the Rensselaer plateau. Early in my drive, I can see the Hudson Valley, the skyline of Albany, and the Helderberg escarpment in the distance. It's quite a view.
I have traveled widely in this world and experienced a great many things in 51 years. That view takes my breath away each morning as I head to South Troy and startles me from any thought on my way home, with the sun falling behind that great swath of American territory. It is majestic, magical.
Somewhere in that landscape, a few occupiers are stuck in the mud. I have tried reaching a hand out to pull them up. I think they would like the view, also. They are otherwise occupied, not paying attention, or just don't want to leave the mud. I can't be any more honest, open, and willing than I have been to date. Perhaps they will see that sometime soon and decide they'd like the ultimate outsider's view.
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