October 28, 2011

Nashville Arrested in a Peaceful Rage Against the Empire: Why Occupy?





The slower days of seat-belt-less Sunday drives may be gone forever but while we were busy living our lives others determined policy that would wake us up in a bedroom that turned frigid when the fire went out.

Rob Lindsay photo; Occupy Nashville Candlelight Vigil

The Empire has gained a momentum of its own that does not require the permission of the masses. We, the masses, have largely given away the power by not voting or by not paying attention or by not comprehending. Perhaps a greater problem is that the economic system that made this country rich and powerful is a system that cannot sustain itself without restraints. And restraints seem antithetical to both a fair number of folks with the cash and a fair number of folks who don’t like being told what they can and can’t do by the government, period. An attempt in the early 1900s by Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican, to implement anti-trust regulations that would keep individuals from amassing disproportionate amounts of industry didn’t go over well and it quietly went away.

Critics of “Occupy Wall Street” argue that the protest is displaced; that Wall Street is not the enemy of the people or are bankers the guys with the biggest pizza pie. But Wall Street affects the price and value of goods, land, companies, housing, food all over the world and Wall Street money backs politicians which affect our policies at home and abroad. It may seem confused that the backlash comes at the symbolic door of the dollar but with a government that is the arm of business, we know that the largest purse has the greatest power which leaves most of us out but not irrelevant. Without us there would be no work force. The protesters have found a perfect product placement for a peaceful revolution and it is correct.

Occupy Wall Street is a cry against corruption against the people. And it’s a cry against the cheaters. Americans do not like cheaters whether they are manipulators in the public market or scammers working the welfare system. So where a percentage of the ruling class will suggest doing away with public service programs that are sometimes abused, a larger percentage is now demanding a policy change that does not abuse 99 percent of us.

Rob Lindsay photo

The Republican Party unanimously shot down the Jobs Bill. In a recent conversation between the press and some high level pranksters in the Par-tay the prankster’s revealed their solution to the country’s economic crisis: Reduce government, take all restraints off business and let the best man win. In other words, let the 99 percent rot and when they are finally compost the surviving fittest will rule the earth as it should be.

Let the market determine value which we have the power to manipulate because we are in control of this market. This is in your best interest. Yeah, you know who I’m talking to. Now put some cash in the collection basket so we can stay in power.

People will shortcut and shortchange the environment and its inhabitants for profit. People will infringe on the welfare of humanity and animals for profit. And people will demand environmental restraints, restraints against cruelty of animals, unfairness to people because of race, gender, religion, culture. Whether we are as individuals, both the perpetrator and the savior or whether our community contains both, we are balanced. Occupy Wall Street is a big swing toward balance.

This is not a primal, limbic, bloodthirsty revolt to send offenders to the guillotine. There is no defined aristocracy to put in irons; no Tower of London, no Bastille. We are too diverse a group, too complicated for that.

This is the country that tuned in to watch Clark Kent throw off his mousy demeanor to become Superman just long enough to save Metropolis without waiting around for praise or treasure. This is still a country that crows when David triumphs over Goliath. We are not alone. And perhaps that’s the most remarkable outcome of this revolution. We are not alone.

Every person who has lost their home or their job knows how isolating that is. Perhaps it’s the loneliness that has finally driven people to find each other.

This is a backlash against the oppression of a system that doesn’t make room for a majority of the population to breath, to relax, to a enjoy life which does not ask for excess but for enough to take a breath, to live in peace. The protesters are the grown-ups here. The doubters lack nerve, confidence or have too much to lose, or so they think.

My family did not have health insurance this month thanks to a glitch in the system and so we did not pay for health insurance. With the money we saved we booked a plane ticket for our son to visit for the holidays. We paid the deductible on a new roof for the house. We paid down a tiny bit of credit card debt. We gave a check to our local food bank.

And I imagined twelve months of no health insurance payments and what we could do instead. I could visit my parents, put new brakes on the 16 year old failing car or trade it in altogether. If we used that money to open a savings account it would be a remarkable shift of consciousness for us. We, who maintain any regularity of life one paycheck at a time, know that the interruption of that paycheck would change our circumstances radically and immediately. We have been there before. I am amazed at how little I want as I was raised to reach for the stars by parents who raised themselves up to do

I wish I had the illusion of a safety net and just a little slide. A little slide is not a little thing. The missing slide is breaking backs. And even if security is an illusion and “life is but a dream”, I prefer it to the nightmare of being trapped by being strapped in a world where there is no free ride. I am the middle class who is still luckier than most but also a member of the 99 percent. I am lucky enough to have health insurance because even if I saved money by not buying it, I know one crisis without it could reduce me to poverty. What a crazy anvil hangs over our heads!

A small segment of the population has gone to bat for all of us. Financial stress that has shattered our tranquility and threatened our survival has raised our collective consciousness. The protesters backs have been strong enough to carry us this far. I am grateful for their sacrifice.

Last night in Nashville a crowd was gathered to brace a promised police encounter. A local lawyer who has taken the responsibility of liaison to the courts had this to say and I’m repeating it because it is classic Nashville:

“This (discussion of permits and restrictions) is a lawyers mess. I went to law school to learn law. Then I went to divinity school to pray about that.”

Excerpted from the Tennessean October 28:

The state of Tennessee is rewriting the rules in an effort to oust Occupy Nashville protesters from Legislative Plaza.

Three weeks into the protest that has drawn scores of protesters — and even more homeless — to the plaza, state officials announced this week that they were imposing a curfew and a daily permit fee for any groups who want to gather in the space.

The state backed off an original demand that the protesters disperse by 8 p.m. Thursday, but officials posted signs warning people against staying overnight and said they expect the group to begin following their permit requirements today. Occupy Nashville members say they’re ready to hold their ground and risk arrest.

Rob Lindsay photo

And today the next Tennessean article describes the arrest. People awoke at 3:00 A.M. to find state troopers surrounding their tents.

This is engraved over the plaza where the protesters were arrested:

American Is Privileged To Spend Her Blood and Her Might For The Principles That Gave Her Birth And Happiness And The Peace She Has Treasured.

I wonder if that will not be interpreted one way by the protesters and another way by the ‘keepers of the peace’.

Rob Lindsay photo; Legislative Plaza,Nashville
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