I was asked today to "enlighten" someone who asked the question, "has the Occupy stuff actually accomplished anything?" At first I had the typical knee-jerk reaction many of us have, in feeling I had to defend or justify myself. Then I stepped back and decided to really think about not only the answer to the question, but mainly to think about why this kind of question is being asked so often by so many. The answer I came up with popped into my head in 2 words"
I am sure most people reading this are scratching their heads right about now, so let me elaborate. We live in a day and age where society is ingrained with the idea of instant gratification. This is the first time in recorded history where people have become so impatient that they stare at the microwave while saying, "Hurry up!" Society has become accustomed to being able to take a pill to instantly treat symptoms for immediate relief. Think of how many people wake up to coffee already brewed while they were still sleeping, grabbed an instant breakfast from the fridge or cabinet, race off in their car (since they probably hit the snooze button a few too many times). They go through the drive-thru ATM for instant cash, then a drive-thru for food that is ready before they even pull up to the pick-up window, then get aggravated at the other drivers on the road because they are going too slow (65mph instead of 70mph). They get to work and complain that the elevator is taking too long (even though they have 2 flights of stairs right next to the elevators). At lunch time, they race in their cars to another drive-thru fast food chain, complain that 4 cars got there before them, and complain that it took an extra 2 minutes because the fresh batch of fries wasn't ready, then race back to work while scarfing down their food, driving, texting, twittering, and checking emails simultaneously. Then after working 8 hours (which they consider to be the equivalent of an eternity), they complain at the elevator again, complain about traffic not going fast enough again, go through more drive-thru lines and complain about the extra couple minutes for their dinner (maybe even go through a drive-thru liquor store for some mind numbing libations). Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera"
Society has become conditioned to the idea of immediate gratification. This sense of urgency is the driving force behind the question posed, and others like it. People want a quick, easy solution to their problems, when in reality the solutions that are truly effective tend to take time, diligence, perseverance, determination, and patience. The problems being faced by the Occupy movement are colossal, and therefore are not going to be corrected overnight. Take for instance the Civil Rights Movement. We have all seen summarized documentaries that break it down in less than 30 minutes so as not to inconvenience us from having to take more valuable time from our hurried lives. But how many people realize that the Civil Rights Movement started in 1955 and continued all the way through the Black Power Movement that concluded around 1975? Or that the Women's Rights Movement began at the first women's rights convention in Seneca Falls, NY in 1848, to the signing of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, giving women the right to vote, on August 26, 1920?
That is a total of 72 YEARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!
In comparison, the Occupy movement is still in its infancy, and hasn't even begun to walk yet. Even so, after only months since the Occupy Movement's head crowned from the birth canal, it has become not just a national movement, but a GLOBAL movement. In just the first couple months, the Occupy Movement spread across the United States, to Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, South America, and even had supporters in Antarctica. That's right" the Occupy movement has supporters on every continent!
First Anniversary OWS photo by rob kall
No other civil movement has had this kind of exponential growth in the history of mankind! Occupy Wall Street has already succeeded in changing the dialogue taking place in politics and society. In fact, "Occupy" was named the "Word of the Year" for 2011 by the American Dialect Society (especially impressive when you consider that it was only around for the last 1/3rd of the year). The movement has helped families across the country faced with evictions by the under-handed actions of crooked bankers. It created a social structure during the encampment in Zuccotti Park, that helped the homeless, provided shelter, community, support, education, and hope to many who had become disillusioned by the times they are living in. Hundreds, if not thousands, of Occupy groups in solidarity across the nation and the world have also helped out their communities in innumerable ways.
As a whole, the movement has already succeeded (and will continue to succeed) in bringing people together, creating dialogue about the issues that concern the lives of everyday people, working with each other to create viable solutions both in our immediate communities and the world. As a movement still in infancy, I don't just see that as progress, success, and accomplishment --- I see that as a f*cking PRODIGY!!!!!!!!!!! Considering how much the movement has already contributed, I am excited to see what is still in store.