Yesterday, I got a flyer handed at the Loveland library inviting people to join the protests against Corporation greed as part of Wall Street Occupy movement in Fort Collins, Colorado.
My dad and mom were students during the 1968 student protests in Mexico, City. A year that is remembered for the massacre that ended such protests. The Tlatelolco massacre, also known as The Night of Tlatelolco (from a book title by the Mexican writer Elena Poniatowska), was a government massacre of student and civilian protesters and bystanders that took place during the afternoon and night of October 2, 1968, in the Plaza de las Tres Culturas in the Tlatelolco section of Mexico City. The violence occurred ten days before the 1968 Summer Olympics celebrations in Mexico City.
The students in Mexico City challenged the country’s government…peacefully. It was a political protest, almost all protest are political really, but this one was done by students; young people who wanted to change their world and maybe were too young to know how to, young people who followed their heart and passion. As it happens, those who had the quality to lead a crowd did, and thousands followed… this one ended in a massacre.
My father always, whenever that conversation came up in social gatherings or friend parties, or family talk about history, would say to us his children: “Do not follow the masses, you will be used and will end up in trouble. Be independent thinkers, be the architects of your own destiny. Idealism is ideal, but do not follow the masses…specially if you do not understand why you are doing what you are doing and how will YOU change what you are doing in order to make a better world. Protesting is not enough, you have to be the change you want to see in the world. Stay still, be peaceful, do no harm. Be creative, be productive and have order…most importantly, remain equanimous and do not react…respond.”
He didn’t participate in the ’68 protests, though he was in UNAM College studying Architecture, he remained still, observing while he kept preparing himself to be the best Architect he could be. This is my dad, I love my dad.
So, yesterday when I got the flyer inviting to protest as part of Occupy Wall Street, in FortCollins, CO, I stopped to think about it and my dad’s advice sounded loud and clear in my head and a debate with myself followed. Big changes have indeed happened out of revolutionary thinking, supporting good change is important, being an activist instead of letting things happen wrong is so much better, besides it is a good cause, I am part of this country, I am also living the everyday effect of the wrongdoing of Corporation greed; everyday I see more and more friends and family without jobs, struggling to keep food on the table, loosing their homes, unable to pay their debts, all part of a ridiculous lifestyle based on a speculative economy where the amounts we talk about in money sometimes can’t even be print in real money because there is not enough paper in the world. All an imaginary mathematical world, where numbers are manipulated to value goods…and not everyone is a fair mathematician.
Bla, bla, bla…I can talk and talk about the little I understand about Economics, and find arguments that would tell me it is not that easy. But really, what is money? And aren’t apple trees free and a God’s gift?
Anyway, I kept going in my mind about why would I join a protest against Corporation greed. For the last months, a lot of people, and really, A LOT of people in the world have gathered, and keep gathering, to protest against neoliberal economic practices, the crimes of Wall Street and the resulting income inequality, unemployment, and oppression of people at the front lines of the global economic crisis…peacefully.
The critics keep debating that the protesters do not know what they want. They have only protests, not answers about how to proceed and solve the situation and sometimes not even a clear understanding about the problem they are protesting against . Of course, this is open wild west virgin territory for anyone with a good idea and possibilities arise where freedom, even if chaotic, is a choice.
Now, I don’t know about you, but if I was being oppressed by somebody, even though the act of protesting and revolving against the oppressors might be justified, and even though a pinch of anger motivating an expectation to see some kind of recognition about the wrongdoing from the oppressor plus maybe some “punishment/justice” act would seem to make “sense”, I would most certainly not leave the decision about how to solve the situation to the oppressor itself! I would not.
This basic idea made me think about this whole Wall Street Ocuppy movement like this: If you are unhappy with a system that has been proven not effective, why would you wait for the same system to give you an answer about how things will proceed next? Why don’t you simply stop living your life under that system and use your freedom wisely? If you do not like wall street, why would you give wall street the chance to rebuild itself? Why not just stop using wall street completely? If you do not like greedy Corporations, why don’t you stop giving them your goods and money and use your local independent markets and start buying your neighbor’s homemade bread? If you do not like banks, why do you keep using banks instead of using your capacity to make things and trade them locally in the good spirit of community? Why do you keep empowering the oppressor by surrendering your power of choice giving the oppressor the responsibility to decide how your life will be lived next? OK, you protested, made your opinion heard, the question now is what are YOU going to do right now, to improve your quality of life…are you going to remain within the crowd waiting until your oppressor shows up to tell you how the system will be improved, who is going to be punished and how will you keep following the same system but with different rules and what will you be doing from now on? Why would you remain following the oppressor?
After all, this is a free country, and as long as you don’t kill, don’t lie, don’t steal, basically do no harm…you will remain free, right? This is America, isn’t it? The land of the free. Why don’t you occupy your self? One breath at a time?
I would not leave the decision to the oppressor. I wouldn’t.
Then again, I am not political, my preference in economics is artistic and sustainable, cross systemic, complementary currency. I grew up in Mexico in a time where I bought homemade tortillas from the neighbor and where if there was no money, there was always food and shelter.