At the age of fifty five, I have pretty much mastered the art of trying-not-to-offend. I don’t always succeed (in fact, my husband would be laughing out loud if he ever read this blog), but I do try.
I try not to offend. I try not to upset.
As I drive to work, I am thinking of gentle ways to inform parents that their best beloved can’t sit still for 20 seconds in a row. I don’t want to offend; I want to educate and enlighten!
As I read the news and feel my blood pressure skyrocket, I am thinking of ways to clearly express my outrage without offending anyone. I want to find a way to express my thoughts and feelings so clearly and crisply that no thinking person could possibly object. I won’t engage in name calling; I don’t want to offend!
I am a middle aged woman. I see most things, most often, sort of from both sides. I can understand and respect those shades of gray. I really don’t want people to look at me and think “crazy radical”!
But here we are, faced with the “Occupy” movement. I am conflicted on SO many levels.
One: this is an incredibly naive and simplistic movement. (OK; so what? Naive is innocent, innocent in uncorrupted, uncorrupted is available to hope.)
Two: these people don’t even have any demands. (OK, when did we decide that you have to be “demanding” to have meaning? What ever happened to civil discourse?)
Three: I don’t have time to march and protest (Well, I am not sure that any demonstrator, protestor, revolutionary ever woke up in the morning and said, “Oh, good. Nothing on the agenda today.” I don’t think that Rosa Parks said that on the key morning of her life. I am not sure that William Dawes was thinking it on on April 18th, 1776. Who am I to feel like my grocery list is more important than the message being delivered here?)
Four: This is going to get messy. (Yes. Yes it is. Democracy is messy. It is loud, it is time consuming and it is frustrating. If we could only ask the ancient Athenians about it, I am absolutely certain that they would agree.)
Five: You can’t change the world through a protest. Oh. Yes. You. Can.Ask the Solidarnosh marchers from Poland in the 1990s. Ask the people of Tunisia or Egypt. Ask the Boston Tea Party participants from 1776. Oh. Yes. You. Can.
But people will get aggravated with me. They will think me annoying with my repeated political posts. People I love and respect and want to keep in my “circle” will not know how to respond when I march in favor of increased regulation of banks and investment firms. I’m afraid. I’m afraid of the snickers. I’m afraid of the rolled eyes. I’m afraid of the “hide” clicks on my FB page.
Then I look at that FB page, and I see the postings from my children and their friends. I realize that some people are putting their futures on the line. They are risking arrest for the movement. As I watch the videos taken at the various recent marches, I realize that they are risking their bodies, their safety, their freedom. They are willing to march and take those chances and stand up in public.
I’m not young enough to discount public opinion. I’m not innocent enough to believe in a utopian future. I’m not bold enough to believe myself beyond the reach of the ruling class.
But I am naive enough to believe that the sound of a thousand voices can be heard in the halls of power. I am foolish enough to have faith in a system that relies wholly on public choice. I am innocent enough to believe that the power and strength of an impassioned youth movement can suddenly open the eyes of the power elite.
I will, with some trepidation, march in Boston on Monday, October 10th. I will carry a sign and stand with my children and hold my head up high. I am willing to take on the laughs, and sneers and derision of my peers. I will gulp, and cringe and stand tall.
I am the 99%.