I have spent the last two days at the Occupy Wall Street gathering. It was a beautiful display of peaceful action: so much kindness and gentleness in the camp, so much belief in our world and democracy. And so many different kinds of people all looking for a chance at the dream that America had promised them.
When people critique this movement and say spurious things about the protesters' clothes or their jobs or the general way they look, they are showing how shallow we have become as a nation. They forget that these people have taken time out of their lives to stand up for values that are purely American and in the interest of our democracy. They forget that these people are encamped in an urban park, where they are not allowed to have tents or other normal camping gear. They are living far outside their comfort zone to protect and celebrate liberty, equality and the rule of law.
It is a thing of beauty to see so many people in love with the ideal of democracy, so alive with its promise, so committed to its continuity in the face of crony capitalism and corporate rule. That should be celebrated. It should be respected and admired.
Their message is very clear and simple: get money out of the political process; strive for equality in taxation and equal rights for all regardless of race, gender, social status, sexual preference or age. We must stop poisoning our food, air and water for corporate greed. The people on Wall Street and in the banking industrial complex that destroyed our economy must be investigated and brought to justice under the law for what they have done by stealing people's homes and savings.
Jobs can and must be created. Family farms must be saved. The oil and gas industry must be divested of its political power and cheap, reliable alternative energy must be made available.
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This movement transcends political affiliations. America has been debased and degraded by greed. This has touched 99% of America's population. The other 1% is doing just fine – with more than a third of the wealth of this nation. We all know people who have been hurt by the big rip-off. We all know people who have lost their jobs or their homes. We all know people who have had to go and fight wars that seem to have no objective and no end – leaving families for years on end without fathers, mothers, sons and daughters.
The 99% of us have paid a dear price so that 1% could become the wealthiest people in the world. We all pay insanely high energy prices while we see energy companies making record profits, year after year. We live with great injustices in the land of justice. We live with great lawlessness in the land of the law.
It's time to check ourselves, to see if we still have that small part that believes in the values that America promises. Do we still have a shred of our decency intact in the face of debasement? If you do, then now is the time to give that forgotten part a voice. That is what this movement is ultimately about: giving voice to decency and fairness.
I invite anyone and all to participate in this people's movement to regain your dignity and what you have worked for in this capitalist society. Each of us is of great value to the whole. Do not forget your greatness. Even when the world around you is telling you you are nothing. You have a voice. You want a better life for your children and the people you love. You live in a democracy. You belong, and you deserve a world that is fair and equal. You have a right to take your place and be heard.
Show up at an Occupy Wall Street gathering in any major city in the US. Hit your social media outlets. Tweet it. Facebook it. Talk it up. It's easy to do nothing, but your heart breaks a little more every time you do.