I never expected that in my lifetime there would be a movement like Occupy Wall Street, and especially not as a college student. It absolutely never crossed my mind that it would be necessary at any point. Protests, and prolonged demonstrations fighting for some sort of systemic change seemed like things straight out of a history book. No longer do we have one exact cause to fight for because half of our people believe that little is wrong. In an age where technology rules and information is everywhere, I believe it was always in the back of my mind that there would never be a need for something like this to even occur, because there are so many pieces of todays world that would make short business of, well, anything.
Frankly, I now look at the current actions being taken and realize how naive that way of thinking was. I’ve heard it said by many people that the Occupy movement has no real purpose, that the people involved don’t know what they want, and where they do they lack the answers everyone is convinced are necessary for change. In the research I’ve done and the experience I had going to Occupy San Diego last Saturday, I can say in full confidence that the issues, like these ones, that people are trying to take up with the movement are both entirely valid and completely asinine.
When Rhea and I went to the Convention Center to learn more about Occupy San Diego, I had few expectations. My sole desire was to learn. I had some general ideas about my stance on the movement beforehand, but where better to learn more than at the source? Right away, we found out that the small group of people that were there were about to march around the Gaslamp Quarter. So we jumped right in. It was actually one of the most surreal experiences of my life. There were probably only fifteen of us - measly compared to the numbers at Wall Street - but I grasped right then and there in a way that I had never before that every person is one more than there was before. In addition to chanting, I heard stories from other Occupiers that I never expected, and Rhea even read some powerful statements written by one of USD’s professors. People honked, cheered, boo’d, questioned, and most overwhelmingly people stared, wide-eyed, at us as we passed by them, as if they had no idea how to respond. I don’t think those images will ever leave my head. There were only fifteen of us and yet everyone was responding in some way. What they were thinking, I’ll never know, but they saw us and they thought about it. That is all I could ask for, and would ask for. Nothing will be changed unless people are truly thinking about actions taking place around them.
We eventually made it back to the Convention Center, where we conversed with some of the people who were there. They told us about previous raids, how Occupiers have been working together, what changes have taken place over the past few weeks, and why they believed in the movement. Following this was the General Assembly, where at least a hundred people were in attendance, discussing and arguing about ideas in the same way that any other large group would. But as tedious as some of the things discussed seemed to be, they were all joined together, trying to move forward and make the movement more accessible and widely known. The questions that still come up on the outside, though, are these: Joined together in what? What is the common cause? I, like many others, have a hard time putting an answer into words. Again, it’s a valid point to make. When a group of people come together, upset about the systemic problems that corrupt our country, but are unable pinpoint one problem that needs to be fixed to make everything better, it’s hard to find reason to support them. But it’s unfair to say they have no purpose, as the media has proclaimed, time and time again. The problem is that there are multiple issues the movement is trying to address. These include: a more equal distribution of income, bank reform, and for an end of corporate influence on politics.
It’s true that protestors don’t have the all-encompassing answer that will alleviate these issues. They don’t have the one action needed to fight for the rights of the 99 percent, but they do know that there is an unfair system in place right now that needs serious reform. A solution is not the goal. Recognition is the goal. Recognition that there is an overarching problem that is ignored by the “One Percent.” Their occupation at the San Diego Convention Center, and at other locations around the country, is just the beginning of the awareness and solidarity needed with all people.
While I have found this an enlightening experience and plan to spend more time supporting the movement, I do not expect everyone to have these sentiments. What I do hope though, is that people will take the time to ask, read, and learn. There is more to this movement than meets the eye, and I believe that, with time, it will grow in ways that will become a great lesson for this generation.
Written by Alyssa Black