An Open Letter to the “Occupiers” of Wall Street and Other Environs

 To Members of the “Occupation” Movement,

It truly is not my intention to pile on with the many others who have been negative about your efforts.  As a college professor, I have great respect for the fact that many of you are young and idealistic.  You want to make a difference.  You have hopes and dreams for the future and you’re finding your professional and financial options limited as of late.  Some of you have legitimate gripes.  Many of you are naive.  Some of you are spoiled.

There are very powerful people who are working to use you for their own purposes.  If you find that difficult to believe, read Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky.  Study the influence his ideology has had on the current “occupier” of the White House.

To those of us who are getting up each day and going to work to make ends meet for our families and to keep our businesses afloat, your movement resembles a child throwing a temper tantrum.  During a tantrum there is a great deal of noise and a tremendous flow of energy, but it accomplishes little else except to anger and frustrate those in the general vicinity of the one throwing the fit.   (Tantrums do occasionally cause the breakage of things and, of course, that means money out of the pockets of those who support you.)

You complain about capitalism as you type on your laptop computers and peck at your i-pods, yet it’s capitalism that has brought you those technological innovations at a price you–or your parents–can afford.  You rail against Wal-Mart and Target, yet these discount stores provide affordable goods to millions every day of lesser means.  You rant about Macy’s and other premium department stores while wearing the preppy fashions that are their specialty.  Your ranks are infected with rapists, anti-semites, and other unsavory characters. You sleep in tents while the elites among your leadership rest in the finest hotels.  You say you represent the workers of our nation, yet those same workers are cleaning up your filth. 

I wish I had your youthful energy.  Truly, I do.  I’d like to be your age again, but only if I could take my 51-year-old brain with me.  That’s not going to happen, so let me share some middle-aged wisdom with you.

If you truly want to make a difference in a good way, I suggest you choose one or two items from the list below. 

-Get your idealistic butt back into a classroom or training school
-Teach a child how to to do math, or how to read
-Volunteer at a hospital in your home town
-Do some repair work or painting for an elderly neighbor
-Work at a soup kitchen one day a week
-Give your mother a day off from housework or laundry
-Take your parents to dinner and say “thank you” for all they’ve sacrificed
-Read and study the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution
-Let the aforesaid reading guide the way you vote
-Attend your house of worship
-Get a job and give 10% of your pay to a charity
-Be part of a reading program for the blind
-Shake the hand of a man or woman in military uniform and say “thank you”
-Join AmeriCorps
-Assist at a fundraiser for interreligious or interracial understanding
-Say hello to someone whose skin is a different color than yours
-Open the door for someone and smile as you do it
-Refuse to send text messages while driving a vehicle
-Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty
-Talk to the kid that everyone else thinks is strange
-Adopt a stray animal and care for it lovingly
-Get it right and march in front of Congress or the White House
-Study what happened to freedom and to the environment under socialism
-Pray for peace and pray for our country

Finally, remember that it is always better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.  Love is not an emotion.  It is a conscious, active commitment to the well being of another.  If you want to occupy something, occupy the heart of a lonely person.  Occupy the mind of a child who needs help with homework.  Make a difference–a real difference that counts for something good!

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5 thoughts on “An Open Letter to the “Occupiers” of Wall Street and Other Environs

  1. This is a great letter to the occupiers. I agree that a real difference starts at the grassroots, not in the middle which is where this movement started. I agree that retail outlets allow us to buy at cheaper prices (at the same time they running Mom and Pop stores out of business). However, the same list of helpful options can be sent to the very rich. If there were a little more morality in the free market economy the OWS movement would not be necessary. With great power comes great responsibility. Money is power in this society. It stands to reason, then, that those with the most money are the ones who are most responsible for those who have less. Of course, I am not talking about a hand out, but a hand up to those who need it. If the very rich did not ship jobs out of the country to make a bigger, quicker buck then there would be more jobs here. If the very rich who still maintain jobs in this country would pay a living wage instead of a minimum one, the individuals in this society could take better care of themselves. If the greater burden for financing this great country of ours fell on those with greater means the system would be more fair and, again, the OWS would not be necessary.

    If we deal with the root of the problem, the problem will go away. If we all take care of each other from the top down rather than the bottom up our society will be less likely to rebel against those in power.

  2. Dawn, we agree on a great deal, but I want to point out that if government saw businesses as a source for employment of citizens and for strengthening and enriching us all rather than “the goose that lays the eternal golden egg for government to steal,” then corporations would gladly stay here in the States.

    • I agree. But, if the businesses are being so oppressed by the government, why is it that these businesses and business leaders continue to finance the campaigns of the lawmakers who oppress them? Would it not make more sense to finance the campaigns of those who would make tax laws that would stop the oppression, thus allowing these businesses to continue to employ citizens at fair wages? If it has truly come to “one dollar, one vote” and they have all the money, so they have the power to overcome the oppression if they choose.

      • You certainly have pointed to a major problem: the revolving door between big government and big business. Wealthy people in government go into lucrative corporate jobs, then return to government, then go back to their jobs, etc. In addition, wealthy corporations support candidates and get the “payback” they seek from those candidates when they are elected. Barack Obama and GE are a prime example of this.

        But added to this mix is the fact that candidates often keep their genuine agenda in the shadows–or at least the full scope of that agenda. Corporations end up supporting candidates on both sides in order to hedge their bets. This is readily confirmed by studying FEC reports from candidates.

        I’ve not spoken of government “oppression” of business. I’ve spoken of over taxation. Some in government (especially on the more “liberal” side of the aisle) see our nation’s economic engine as a source for all the money they want need for social change. They would have government involved in every aspect of our lives, supposedly for our well being: from our salt intake, to decisions made by our doctors, to what our health insurers can and can’t cover, etc. They have to find the money somewhere, so they turn wealthy people and large corporations into whipping children and scapegoats.

        In a way, I can’t blame the corporations and the wealthy for trying to win over politicians! Remember the old saying that you should keep your friends close but your enemies closer? Liberal politicians, especially, are the enemies of the economy because they stomp on the new shoot of economic growth when it emerges. How do they do it? By yanking capital from the economy and diverting it to a wasteful, burdensome governmental bureaucracy.

        That monster they call “campaign finance reform” might sound good, but what it actually does is to make it harder for new candidates and it helps to assure the re-election of present candidates. Thus the problems of the system go on and on and on ….

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