Do you know who this is? It’s Victoria Jackson - one of my favorite cast members from Saturday Night Live in the 80’s (the one who played an idiot in every single sketch). Now she’s a teabagger and a fundamentalist Christian who I ended up debating with for a half hour yesterday about global warming, which she doesn’t believe exists, and health care, which she doesn’t have and she’s cool with (!!!) Despite our differences in opinion, she was kind to me and we had a good time chatting, along with Jeffrey Marx. This was jut one many completely random and amazing interactions I had yesterday at the big Occupy Wall Street march.
I almost didn’t go yesterday. It would cost me $40 in bus tickets and a whole day of working on my book, which is the most important thing in my life right now. But then I thought about the civil rights movement and the hippies in the 60’s and women’s suffrage, all of which I studied extensively in college for my history major. Did you know those women protested and marched and sacrificed for ONE HUNDRED YEARS before they got the vote? Can you imagine working so hard on something and not see it happen in your lifetime?
But then, can you imagine being one of those first women to cast your ballot and realize you did absolutely nothing at all support the women who made it happen? I don’t want to have any regrets when I die and that is why I’m taking part in this movement - a movement I’ve been waiting for for years. If I had lived in the 60’s, I would like to be able to say today “Yes, I burned my bra and you, ladies who now have jobs that were exclusive to only men before, can thank me and my sisters for that.”
What is happening right now is a revolution. It started with hundreds only three weeks ago and by yesterday there were (according to the cops I talked with) 50,000! These are not hippies and anarchists down there. These are teachers, union workers, students, old people, young people, even kids! These were Americans who are tired of fighting with each other and instead locking arms for a common cause - change.
The media wants you to think it’s a bunch of pot-smoking lost souls with no purpose, but that’s not true. I have yet to see a single person smoking pot or drinking or doing anything hippy-ish but dancing, which is how they are keeping up their spirits and releasing pent up aggression.
Everyone is down there for a different reason or the same reasons, but it all comes down to one thing - greed and corruption. That is the root of almost all the injustices in the world and THAT is what they are angry about.
And yet they are kind to each other and overall happy. I’ve never had that many complete strangers smile, strike up conversations, or share a laugh with me in one day. There was a magic in the air that I just can’t put into words. I am not exagerating when I say that in all my travels, in all the wonderful experiences I’ve been a part of, yesterday was one of the best days of my life.
I have been ashamed of America for long time. Majoring in history and human rights made it hard not to be, especially seeing what our government and corporations have been doing to the rest of the world, to us, and our environment. But yesterday, for the first time in my adult life, I was beaming with pride to be an American. To be a part of an American Revolution in the brewing, along with tens of thousands of other Americans who think this country is worth saving and are willing to miss a day of work or play or whatever to send a message to the rest of the country. We are a rebellious country by nature - just think of our forefathers and foremothers! They would be so proud of us!
Last night, as I crawled into my truck to go to sleep up here in New Patlz and zipped myself up into my sleeping bag, I felt like a different woman. A stronger one who is not afraid anymore. I may have forty dollars less in my pocket today but for the first time in my adult life, thanks to all those people down there on Wall Street, I have hope.
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