I’ve been reading the Occupy Wall Street movement for awhile now. I’m sure many have. I’m interested for several reasons; I believe there is an inequity though I don’t know that I’ve managed to put my finger on the precise nature of it, there is potential for a great deal of change which may be good or bad, plus change is just exciting. One common complaint is that there is no single message other than expressions of fiscal inequity among the occupiers and that there is no one single voice to represent this growing movement. I believe that if the movement goes on for very much longer, someone is going to make an attempt to scoop up these people and try to wield them like a big heavy club. I only hope that when that happens that person is the right person doing the right thing.
The first observation I had about all of this was that I hadn’t noticed it at first. Here was this group of people protesting, making a lot of noise in one of the most populous and newsworthy cities on the planet, in my own country, and there was virtually no news coverage of it. I have watched as it gained more traction among blogs and indie news sites but still heard nothing coming from the standard media outlets. Then when that coverage did come, there was a definite bias against the occupiers with very little by way of attempts to glean what it was they were there to protest.
Now as I hear news reports come in, many times the protests and the reactions to same are peaceful. Sometimes they are not. Perhaps there is bias because of the news sources I had to rely on early on but it seems to me that the police reaction has been over the top in a handful of cases. Unacceptably so. There is fear everywhere. Protesters who fear for their livelihood which has driven them to protest, and who fear for their lives because they don’t know what the official response will be. Police who fear that riots will ensue. Politicians and powerbrokers who see this emotion and power, chaotic and untamed but present, and fear that they will not be able to combat it or control it.
Emotions are running high and as interactions escalate into more violence, as fears are realized, more will be drawn into this movement. An opportunity will be made visible. Someone will step forward who seems to “get it”. Who knows how to talk, how to charm, how to cajole the crowd. They will become the leader, not because they were elected but because the protesters will see them as someone who represents them well, who can be the front man or woman to present their needs to the powers that be. To get things done. And things will get done. There is a power here, deep, hidden but there. It’s possible it will disperse, though that will still leave the undercurrent of frustration and anger and fear to latch onto. It is also possible it will be harnessed. They say nature abhors a vacuum. And historically we see that this sort of movement, this sort of power, rarely goes unclaimed for very long. I only hope that we don’t regret who takes the reins.