Shape Up, Occupy!


A few months ago, I wrote a piece about my frustration with the GOP for using God, wrongly, to forward their political agenda. I said, “even if you really do believe in every ounce of your heart that you know God, and your faith is right, then you have still got to know that your evidence for your faith is no stronger than my evidence is for my faith. This roadblock between us is not a good enough reason to ignore science or math, or war or peace, or poverty or prosperity.” Today, I think of those words, and I am dismayed to feel the need to wag my finger at the Occupy Movement. I hate being driven to speak out against liberal causes in general, I especially hate it when I have to say something against a cause I believe in. Let’s hope this is an isolated incident.

Yesterday I saw two examples of people struggling against the issues that truly do plague more than 99% of our nation: war, peace, poverty and prosperity. In one example, Seattle’s May Day protestors chose to fight these issues with anger, hostility and violence. There were reports that May Day and Occupy protestors broke windows, and participated in acts of vandalism and theft. In stark contrast, Washington D.C.’s Occupy protest and May Day parade, chose to celebrate workers, humanity and peace.

In the 120 cities that participated in May Day and Occupy protests yesterday, I think that it is fair to say that these two cities represent the polar ends of the spectrum, with another 118 shades of grey in between. I hope that the proud, righteous message behind what I saw in D.C. and with the majority of the Occupy Movement’s efforts yesterday, doesn’t get lost in the chaos of Seattle’s hostile minority.

Let me lecture in my most authoritative mommy voice, “If you really do believe with every ounce of your heart that you are right in this fight, you have still got to know that two wrongs don’t make a right. Violence is a roadblock in the path toward reason, it prevents everyone involved from making progress toward the goals of the movement. Now, shape up!” I want to write proud stories about the varied and diverse group of peaceful people I see genuinely devoting themselves to groups like the Occupy Movement. I want to tell you about families and individuals of all ages, and races, and ideologies, using the proud First Amendment of our Constitution to make peace.

"Photographer, Paul Perrin, describes his photo: "This picture shows the sunflower dragon, "Rosie" as it glides by the White House on May Day, a traditional holiday rooted deeply in the history of America. Hundreds of Occupiers, Labor activists, and others turned out in DC to celebrate a day of games, teach-ins, and marching. Speeches in front of the White House included labor leaders from Honduras, Bangladesh, and the Philippines, addressed the crowd, such as, "Obama, escuha! Estamos en la luca!"

With this photo of a fading parade and protest, unique signage and people of all types mingling together in the twilight of a sunny day, I have hope. I look at this image, and I see people like me. I see regular Americans, frustrated and called to action but not participating in violence. If I were a lawmaker, and I was looking at this scene, I’d be far more likely to listen than if I saw rioting hostility, broken windows and stolen goods. Isn’t the idea here to change the laws? Isn’t the purpose to get our lawmakers to take notice of everyday Americans, and ask them to work for us rather than the 1%? If these are indeed the goals, then it is clear that D.C.’s Occupy group is leading the pack with their example. 

The Occupy Movement has a fine message. Let’s not sully it, or slow it down, with poor behavior. Let’s take the high road, and the winning route. We can act right, without being mistaken for being from the right. So let’s shape up, follow the rules, and change this nation’s destiny the honorable way… through peaceful protest. When we read the history books about these momentous days to our grand-kids, we’ll be glad we did. 

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