I am the 99%.
Howard had enthusiasm for the Occupy Wall Street protest that kicked off yesterday in Philadelphia at City Hall and his enthusiasm sparked my interest. But I had the day off and had heard a lot of criticism of the demonstration in NYC so… within an hour, I had compiled a laundry list of reasons NOT to attend the protest.
1.) I’d have to put on a bra and change out of my pajamas. Brush my hair. (Which leads me to the next obstacle, what do I wear to a protest? Maybe I could skip brushing my hair.)
2.) I’d have to put off my mile-long To Do List… on which “Take down Wall Street” was nowhere to be found
3.) My opinions would get lumped into one giant, unwieldy groupthink
4.) Large groups are easy targets for terroristic attacks (sigh. this actually crossed my mind.)
5.) I just don’t care that much
An honest list, y’all. An embarrassing list. #4 and #5 bothered me the most. I don’t want fear to be my life-guide, and my apathy about an issue concerning the welfare of a group of people for whom Jesus Christ had a lot of passion makes me pause. (I also stumbled upon this opinion piece online that was interesting)
I realized I doubted that my presence at the protest would make much of a difference. I wondered, too, if the protest would make much of a difference. Why waste my morning off, then? Isn’t that the code I live by? Productivity! Efficiency! A principle ingrained in me by our supersonicspeed culture. At the end of the day, society cares about Efficiency because Efficiency is more lucrative than inefficiency. Though I often don’t stop to ask the why, I beat my brains out trying to do things double-time. I am beginning to doubt that efficiency and effectiveness are directly related.
This protest is inefficient! Who is the leader? Where is the list of demands? How can we measure the effectiveness of this demonstration?
Yeah, well… I don’t bow to mammon. Mammon can go to hell. And every greedy CEO getting to sleep at night with expensive prescription drugs and the peace of mind that comes from believing that trickle down economics actually works? I don’t want them to go to hell. But they just might be headed there.
And so I decided to go to the protest… if only to wiggle a little more loose of the stronghold that Efficiency has on my life. Invigorated by ideals and conviction I blazed through morning traffic, locked my bike up to a pole on 13th street, and headed to City Hall. No matter how big or small the demonstration, I would lend my voice! All I had to do now was find the protest.
City Hall is big, on foot it takes quite awhile to walk around the perimeter. I saw a lot of cops and tv trucks, signs of goings-on. Two women were in full Native American dress. My math was simple: Native Americans = peace. These ladies must be here for the protest! I filed in line behind them to get into City Hall and tapped the woman closest to me, “Hello. M’am? You here for the protest?”
Ahem. Excuse me, please. I slipped out of line and back outside. Around the perimeter, passed the cops and the TV trucks.
It was then I saw a motley crew of 10-15 people, listening closely to their leader. The group had an anarchist hippy thing going on. Typical protestors, right?
I sidled up to a ponytailed guy on the fringe and whispered, “Hey, this the protest?”
Their informal meeting trailed off as everyone turned to look at me. Ponytailed guy’s laugh was small; mostly kind with an ounce of condescension, “No, it’s not. We are blardy-blar-blar medics [I was half listening in my embarrassment]. The protest is over there.”
I attempted a graceful exit and then rounded the next corner of City Hall in the direction he had pointed. There I saw roughly 300 people gathered holding signs.
Amused by own naivete and efforts, I was grinning from ear to ear as I walked into the crowd.
The unions represented.
One of my favorite signs, "Sallie Mae is a Greedy Betch"
This guy made some announcements. We served as his microphone, repeating everything he said. I liked that a lot.
I saw my old co-teacher, Mr. Steve Ford. Wearing sneakers and a fly hat as usual.
I loved these folks. Her sign reads, "Listen to your granny... We want a peace economy." The woman's button tells us who they represent... Granny Peace Brigade!
Right before I left, some folks contributed a sofa to make the protestors more comfortable. Everyone was settling in for the long haul.