Thursday, November 17, 2011

Rush Hour Traffic

Some friends are bitching that the Occupation is holding up traffic.  They say that the demonstration today inconveniences the wrong people - if the 99% can't get to work on time and their pay is be docked, who does that help?

I can see that revolution often disrupts a person's commute. And I know that stock brokers don't take the subway to work. But one woman I know continues to say the Occupation is misguided because a few waiters in Wall Street restaurants got laid off - as if those jobs weren't tenuous already. As if waiters aren't already getting totally screwed by Wall Street. As if thousands of people without homes and health care should be more sensitive.

Let me say, here, that I am fully aware that there are a lot of Occupiers who are misguided about a lot of things. And certainly there are so many voices represented in the Occupation that it's noisy and unorganized.

And New Yorkers bitch about anybody who fucks up traffic for any reason.

But when I hear people who have comfortable jobs - who are still barely able to pay their bills, and who will be completely without health care if they get laid off - complaining that the movement is about to lose popular support because we are inconveniencing folks who are trying to get to work, I despair for our future.

There are plenty of examples of how working within the system, so nobody is inconvenienced, has gotten us no-fucking-where. Two things are stuck in my mind. First, BP and their friends in our government, including Barack Obama, have successfully convinced half of America that everything along the Gulf Coast is fine and dandy. No matter that whole communities are out of work, can't' breathe and have weird skin conditions from the dispersants in the environment. All is well. BP and Haliburton are free to practice business as usual. And secondly, in 40 years of working tirelessly within the system, the LGBT community has achieved the right to get openly shot at in the military - but they still don't have equal protection under the law. In most states, when one partner has been hospitalized, the other cannot visit since s/he isn't family. Both individuals better have their own health care since many employers don't extend benefits to domestic partners. God forbid one dies without a will, leaving the other one homeless and at the mercy of state laws about property. Personally, I don't see how being allowed to serve openly in the military is such a victory for the LGBT community. So many soldiers commit suicide these days instead of reporting for a fifth, sixth or seventh tour of duty in Afghanistan, that the US Military was having serious trouble attracting volunteers.

Meanwhile, the 12,000 demonstrators who surrounded the White House in an effort to get Obama to block the Keystone Pipeline didn't inconvenience anyone. But word has it that the pipeline deal is so done that Bechtel has already been paid to build the damn thing. Obama said he'd delay his decision until 2012, but all he's really done is delay the announcement until he's gotten all those Lesser Of Two Evil votes. So much for working within this broken system.

Years ago, college kids took to the streets because of the draft. Our side said, "Hell No, We won't Go." The Establishment said, "America: Love it or Leave it." Then, as now, the college kids may have been in the forefront, but people from every walk of life finally joined the chorus demanding an end to the Vietnam war. Similarly, during the civil rights movement, African Americans were leading the call for justice, but all kinds of Americans were also involved in those demonstrations.

And all of those demonstrations inconvenienced people. It must have been pretty inconvenient to be blasted with fire hoses, too. Scott Olsen was surely inconvenienced by that tear gas canister.

As a few Americans are taking to the streets today - again - to demand Human Needs take precedence over Corporate Greed, it seems like desperate times call for desperate measures.

Maybe there are more effective ways to demonstrate than marching in the street. Ways that would have a direct impact on the lives of the 1%. Seems unlikely, given that the 1% can effectively insulate themselves from any discomfort and inconvenience with their fortunes - especially when exercising our Freedom of Speech requires more permits than Fracking. If anybody has any ideas, I'd love to hear them.
Today, and every day, I fear for my friends in the streets - as they courageously fight for our rights, while we're going through our ordinary routines in comfort. Any one of those demonstrators could wind up injured like Scott Olsen, or tear gassed like Dorli Rainey, an 84 year-old activist in Seattle.

She's working for a better world, while we're worried about getting to work.

**Thanks to Krell for re-posting this piece at Roundtree7**


mbarnato said...

The bitching is good in its way because it means the movement is having an effect. The occupiers are an easy target for blame because they're visible. It's hard to "see" BP, or Chase or Goldman Sachs.... The bitchers are obviously frustrated too - they're just bitching at the wrong people. We want to turn those feelings around. Lately, I'm aware of idiots like Limbaugh denigrating the occupiers as "animals" etc. in the attempt to dehumanize them. I'd say Ms Rainey, the retired school teacher in your picture, is more human than Rush any day.

Rubye Jack said...

It's a sad situation when people have the gall to complain about traffic or comment about a "few" laid off waiters when so many people have become homeless due to losing their jobs. Greed is what is it is all about.

ellen abbott said...

thank you

Patricia said...

Great post. That people could complain about this nonsense speaks volumes. Like Sinclair Lewis said "God damn the society that will permit such poverty! God damn the religious that stand for such a putrid system!" Especially when it comes to our gay and LGBT friends. I think things need to get way more inconvenient for anyone who doesn't have a clue about what is really happening. Change can only happen when people are so uncomfortable they have no other choice.

DaisyDeadhead said...

Great post.

Governor Haley has cleared out Occupy Columbia, here in SC. We are pretty bummed out over it. Trying not to lose hope.

Gail said...

HEY TRISH GREAT POST!! Wow. And again I ask, why don't you have your own news talk show??
Love you Texas

Vancouver Voyeur said...

To echo what Patricia said, nobody changes who isn't in enough pain. We need to find a way to bring the pain to the 1%.

jadedj said...

Excellent post, Tricia.

So there are some New Yorkers who are being inconvenienced by this protest and are all piss willy about it. Precisely what the 1% wants...divide and conquer, and the fools will forget about it. That's what they think, you know, that we are all fools. They are laughing in our faces. This time they are not going to get away with it.

Jerry Critter said...

A protest, to be effective, must cause inconvenience to be effective. People are slowed a little bit on their way to work? Tough shit! If big business and wall street have their way, you won't have a job to go to...unless you live in another country.

Lisa said...

Thank you for writing this. I know everyone has their shit, but I'd be willing to trade 2 years jobless for a pain in the ass commute.

PENolan said...

Thanks, friends. I needed some support after I blasted my friend and everyone in her Facebook thread.

After watching Olbermann last night, I realized that they all must have seen a Main Stream Media warning that OWS was going to SHUT DOWN the subways at 3:00, when in reality OWS demonstrators distributed fliers on trains and in certain stations. So where my friend was concerned, the trouble wasn’t complaining about inconvenience – it was believing the distortions and outright bullshit the MSM calls news.

The other day, Gwen at Roundtree7 said something about people today having to come to terms with the fact that the government is lying kind of like during the Vietnam War when folks believed nothing was going on in Cambodia. When their friends and neighbors told them Nixon was a liar, they couldn’t believe it. They believed the TV.
Not so different today.

Seeing thousands of people demonstrating all over the country - especially pouring into the streets of NYC and across the Brooklyn Bridge with the brilliant 99% signs projected onto the wall of a big bank -- was so inspiring that I can’t wait for the next demonstration.

I may still choose to keep my arthritic self out of the crowd because it’s scary to think that one misstep can leave you so damaged you can’t do your job anymore – and I do love being in my classroom every morning. My Room full of Twos. I love you guys, too. And all those crazy, courageous hippies out in the streets showing the world that the Paradigm has shifted once and for all.

Mr. Charleston said...

Out of curiosity, I did a little research on the percentage of Southerners who owned slaves prior to the Civil War. You guessed it... 1%

Jerry Critter said...

An interest statistic, Mr. C. While it is true for the number of owners who had more than 50 slaves, approximately one-third of all southern families owned at least one slave.

Karlo said...

Great post!

PENolan said...

Thanks, Karlo
Mr C - I've always felt that we were fighting the same sons of bitches who brought us the 3/5 Compromise and wouldn't sign off on the Constitution until slavery was protected. Thanks for confirming my suspicions.

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