Who we are
It’s chanted in cadence. Not that we were marching in time to the cadence, but it felt good to define us as just plain people; the 99 percent who are getting screwed by the 1 percent. It might be why the cops are so cheerful and accommodating in so many cities where the Occupy Movement has taken hold.
It is a movement whose time has come, as evidenced by its incredible growth in the last month. I think a lot of folks were waiting for something to start, and when it did, they joined.
We’ve been called unfocused, loud, a mob, unwashed (there are no showers in parks, for the most part) and more.
But the movement, for all its righteous indignation, is cheerful. There’s a lot of good humor and cammeraderie, a very real sense that we’re in this together to make a better future for ourselves and our children. We are nonviolent and we are small-d democratic.
Yes, we are angry that the banks got bailed out and we got sold out (another chant). We’re angry that long-term unemployed people are being villified as lazy, that people who die because they don’t have insurance are seen as people who made “bad choices,” that unions are seen as groups of thugs, that people can work 40 hours a week and not be able to live on what they make, that the CEOs of the companies they work for make 560 times what they earn, that people’s homes are being taken away by the very banks our tax money bailed out three years ago, that our immigration policy allows mother and fathers to be torn from their children and deported, that children go hungry, that we can’t seem to stop the rape of our environment by big oil, gas and coal companies, that we’re engaged in so many wars and overseas adventures, that unmanned drones kill more innocent civilians than they do combatants …
There’s a lot wrong with America right now, and we, the 99 percent, want to restore this country to its former respectability in the world. We don’t want to be the sp0nsors of carnage and pillage. We don’t want to see the regressive policies continue.
We, the 99 percent, are patriots of the first order. That’s why you’ll see so may flags flown around the Occupy sites.
In 1969, when I protested the Vietnam War, my mother asked me why I would go against my country.
“I think it’s like warning someone you love that they’re doing something wrong,” I said. “I love this country too much to ignore when we do something that’s wrong.”
My father thought that was a good arguement, although he subscribed to the fight-’em-there-or-they’ll-be-on-our-shores Domino Theory. It was the same ploy we used when going into Iraq, and a lot of Americans believed it.
Now, 10 years after we went into Afghanistan to rid the world of terror, we have become the terrorists.
And I believe we, the 99 percent, love America too much to not say something.Leslie Boyd, a former newspaper reporter, is president of the health care advocacy nonprofit, WNC Health Advocates, founded in memory of her son, who died in 2008 because he couldn't access health care. E-mail her at leslie at lettersfromtheleft dot com or follow her on Twitter @leftyletters1, visit Letters from the Left on Facebook. For more information about WNC Health Advocates or to read Boyd's health care blog, visit wncha.org.