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Mixed Feelings About the "Occupy Wall Street" Folks

15 Oct

I have very mixed feelings about the "Occupy Wall Street" folks.

My gut says one thing; my brain another.

My gut is a negative reaction.

Part of me is very sympathetic to the critics: get a job, give up the sense of entitlement and that everyone else is to solve your problems, and take some personal responsibility for your life.

Part of this comes from my own personal experience. ?Two and half years ago I was forced into a mid-life career change. ?I left my well-paying professional job as a pastor, and took a reduction of pay of over 60% (plus went from full benefits to none). ?All of this during an historically terrible economic season — a pretty much terrible time to be looking for a job. ?But since that time, I have gotten 4 raises, 2 promotions, and have worked into a management level position with a growing restaurant group with a legitimate salary (though still significantly less that I was making), full benefits, etc.

It wasn't always easy… it took hard work, going back to school, some tough decisions, tight budgeting… but here I am. ?And if I can do it, anyone can.

So my gut is not so sympathetic.

But my brain tells me something different.

While I would like to think that what I have accomplished over the last 2 and half years is really all because of me, I know better. ?I have been the beneficiary of great privilege — all of which helps me succeed in life in a variety of ways.

I grew up in a supportive, loving and upper middle class family in an affluent CT suburb with superb schools (according to most people… but not my older brother… but that is a different story). I am the beneficiary of that education, which allowed for an excellent undergrad education (via Clark University and UCONN). ?I have always known that I have a built-in safety net with my family. ?Never once have I ever even considered the idea that I could be homeless, hungry or without resources. ?My family would be there. ?And I have been a financial?beneficiary?of my upbringing as well. ?So while much of my re-schooling effort and the last two years were subsidized by my savings, even that is the result of being raised with privilege. ?And without getting too into the politics of it all, being white and a male also tends to help too.

In other words, "if I can do it, anyone can" is kind of a myth.?

I don't apologize for what I have, who I am or even the privilege that has allowed me to get where I am. But I do need to recognize the reality of who I am and how I got here.

And that not everyone has those same opportunities and privileges — the kind that came more as a birthrite than by anything I did to warrant them.

Intellectually, I also support protest, reform movements, living wages, pursuit of economic justice… all things that the current "Occupy" movement seems to be about.

I might even be there with them, except I am too busy with my 60-hour-a-week job… (which, upon reflection, gets me back to my gut reaction/resentment of them perhaps).

I wish the movement was less about "me" and a sense of entitlement than about advocating for those that have less… advocating for economic reform and justice. ?Movements that are about a GREATER CAUSE — other than myself — resonate more with me.

And I wish the people being interviewed on TV weren't so sophomoric in their views and articulation. ?And some, frankly, have no idea why they are there… more along for the ride than anything else. ?But this is no different than a large portion of the Tea Party movement, as far as I can tell. ?It is part of the nature of movements… you need the masses with you, though it matters little if the masses get what it is all about. ?As long as they are there.

So I have mixed feelings…?

But here is my prediction… we should not ignore what is happening because it is tapped into a powerful and real angst in our nation. ?And it is possible that there are enough people who have reached there "I can standz no more" moment, that this movement is real… and in it for the long haul. ?And if they stick around long enough… and develop some more focus and leadership… who knows, they may find me camped out next to them (as long as I can use some of my paid vacation time to do it.)

Oh how life is complicated sometimes…

THOUGHTS?
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1 Comment

Posted by on October 15, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

One response to “Mixed Feelings About the "Occupy Wall Street" Folks

  1. John Fecteau

    October 21, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    I think there is a point to be made in these protests. I don’t think they make it when they say they are protesting greed. Give to the homeless if you want to protest greed. Wall Street IS forcing American industry to globalize. This sounds harmless. Let’s sell to the whole world, right? Must be more profit in that. But what it really means is Wall Street is forcing industry to denationalize. To no longer be American. Move the company out of America. We have been doing it with manufacturing for years and loving the lower prices at Wal Mart. The high tech jobs watched it happen and kept silent. Now the high tech, middle class jobs are going too and we take to the streets. The government with our visa laws has made It more profitable for companies to bring engineers to America and house them next door to unemployed Americans. Frankly, they have no choice. The government must allow corporations to equalize our economy with our neighbors. They don’t want to close the boarders to cooperate globalization only illegal aliens that will take the only jobs left. As we transition economically the middle class is going to bitch, moan and protest because they have the most to lose (the poor not so much as they don’t have anything but government handouts anyway). Especially when it becomes glaringly apparent that a very small percentage are making a huge killing on the deal. I mean huge! I call this the selling off of America. Your jobs are being sold for profit. Now that’s worth protesting against. This is why we see economic improvement but no job creation. Look overseas in the lowest, cheapest and most environmentally deregulated economies. Job markets are booming. The Wall Street question for me is do they have the right to sell our jobs to the highest bidder? So far the government has said yes. However, as most of them are stockholders, they have a stake in the outcome that is significantly higher than those losing their jobs. The poor have far less to lose in an economic collapse than the top 1%. America will have it’s economic collapse when Wall Street has globally diversified enough to mitigate the risk for its largest holders. Then American poor and middle class will come back unified, weaker, but resolved to bid for our old jobs with the rest of the world. Our best form of protest WAS how spend our $. But not anymore. Wall Street has cultivated new markets. We have left ourselves behind.

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