My older daughter, the Diva, has a highly-developed sense of social justice, so it was no surprise to me when she got involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement. She hasn’t wholeheartedly fallen in with the movement – she has questions about what they’re accomplishing – but as a kid growing up in an enormous city, she’s certainly witnessed her share of economic unfairness, and it has touched her.
She is not demonstrating today because she has classes – political science, mostly, in which she’s highly engaged; I’m pleased that she’s prioritizing learning over marching at this point in her life. But there are plenty of people on the streets – both demonstrators and law enforcement – who are learning in a different way. Given the already-aggressive tactics of the NYPD and FBI, I’m not so sure how much of this learning is actually going to get processed.
I come down pretty hard in the Occupy camp just because experience has made it clear to me that our social system is designed to prop up the privileged, and keep them privileged at the expense of everybody else. I don’t agree with some of the rhetoric and violence and clownish behavior (it’s safe to say there are generally thugs on all sides of any argument and they’re not limited to police), and I’m skeptical of anarchism and other extremisms – but Occupy came out of some seriously critical thinking, and has made it plain (to those who don’t have the time or inclination to engage in critical thinking) just what is at stake.
All of which is to say, be careful out there. And if you’re inside, pay attention – everyone out on the streets today is representing. It’s the least we can do.