#Occupying My Mind

Over the last week I’ve tried, and failed, to put out some of my thoughts on what I see shaping up under the banner of #OccupyWallSt.

Tried, because I get the sense it’s a profoundly important movement.

Failed, because every day a new piece of the story unfolds in such a way that it sends me back to my drafts folder to revise the thoughts I’d laid down just a day prior.

Is it, as Mitt Romney suggests, a dangerous movement sowing the seeds of an out and out class war? Or is it, as Bills8259 in the comments on that same post suggests:

The Occupy Wall St protestors are a chaotic mess of burned out hippies, the disaffected, pierced freaks and kids looking for something to do. They are “protesting” anhything and everything and , therefore, will likely be ignored by the vast majority of us who are no alienated. They are a joke and I seriously doubt anyone on Wall St are at all “afraid” of them.

Or is it something else?

Is it a bullhorn for people who’ve made a series of poor choices related to their education, career paths and debt loads who are finally having to face the reality of their decisions?

Or is it an outlet for sharing stories of disillusionment, pain, regret and helplessness. Take some time to scroll through the stream of stories pouring in from Americans as they grapple with waking up from the American Dream at WeAreThe99Percent:

My parents have worked hard and played by the rules all their lives. Now they owe far more on their mortgage than their home is worth, can’t afford any kind of health care, and cannot afford to retire.

I took out many thousands of dollars in student loans so I could better myself and help make the world a better a place. Now I am scraping by on two very part time jobs that don’t even require the degrees I worked so hard to get.

We are hardworking, resilient people and I am hopeful that things will get better. But we can’t recover if the rampant recklessness, greed and indifference from the most wealthy and powerful in our land continues.

Or is it something else?

Is it aimed squarely at Wall Street professionals who’ve ducked jail time and secured record bonuses? Or is it, it aimed at a more systemic set of institutional failures. So systematically failed, in fact, that the demands of the movement aren’t demands for change at all. As David Graeber, an initial organizer of the movement puts it:

If you make demands, you’re saying, in a way, that you’re asking the people in power and the existing institutions to do something different. And one reason people have been hesitant to do that is they see these institutions as the problem.

Or is it something else?

Is it an isolated flare up? Or, as Umair Hague asserts, is it a metamovement on a global scale:

The Metamovement isn’t just a faint, transient echo, but the increasingly resonant reverberation of people challenging this brutal state of malfunction, this Great Splintering of institutions and social contracts. Their truth, I suspect, might be this: there’s no one left to turn to — and so the Metamovement has turned to each other. Not for yesterday’s notions of “solidarity”, or the corporatist ideal of “inspiration, “but as nodes in a pulsing network whose coherence defines it: to demand institutions which can literally deliver the goods of enlightened social contracts. That enshrine in the people, first and foremost, the inalienable right to be authors of their own destinies — instead of condemning them to be mute puppets.

Or it it something else?

Pouring over second hand reports has left me feeling ill equipped to take a position on the movement without experiencing it myself. So, I plan to visit the center of the storm on an upcoming trip to NYC.

I’ve asserted here before that we’re in an age where everything will be reinvented. Perhaps this is just a bunch of burnouts and disaffected youth. Or, perhaps it’s sowing the seeds of something much more disruptive on which a great reinvention can bloom. Either way I can’t shake it so I want to find out for myself first hand.