I am writing to you as a worried mother figure. I am proud of all that you have accomplished in the very short time since you first appeared on the scene. You have gone from being a group of disgruntled youth to a powerful, vocal, global movement. You can judge the impact of your actions by the increasingly frantic reactions that you are stirring in the halls of power.
The media has gone from ignoring you to endlessly speculating about you. The most conservative media outlets (those who need not be named) have spent countless hours vilifying you. Nothing could more clearly prove your strength than the ugly stream of name calling coming from those talking heads!
The President and members of Congress are swinging wildly from criticism to support to worry and back again. You have the world’s attention; all eyes, ears and internet outlets are focused like lasers on your every move.
Part of what has given you such international strength is your ability to confound the old guard. My generation expected you to print out leaflets; we didn’t understand that you would use “Livestreaming”. We thought that you would write letters; we haven’t fully grasped the power of Facebook and Twitter. Those in power are mostly of my age, and they just don’t know how to head you off.
So here you are. Encamped in Zucotti park, and facing the mayor’s order to disperse or be dispersed.
My dear brave Occupiers,
Now is your moment to turn world history on its head. Please listen to this nice older lady. I’ve read a lot of history, and I’ve lived through more than a few protest movements.
The old, 20th century version of tomorrow morning would have all of you linking arms and chanting as the police close in with riot gear and pepper spray. The old, historical chain of events would have you resisting, the police making a token announcement that you must disperse, then rushing at you all at once. There would be mass arrests, photos of young men and old women with bloodied faces and torn shirts, cries of ‘Police brutality!” and in the end both sides would retreat to their corners with no one the winner.
But you are the future! You have in your hands the perfect moment to step forward and bring civil action to a new place. You can, if you choose, confound the power elite once again and break the chain of past history.
If you can find the courage to turn your backs on the romantic idea of being arrested and hauled off to jail by aging, bored cops, you can change history.
If you can find the strength to remain peaceful in the face of so much frustrated power, you have the opportunity to fundamentally change the future.
I urge you, in the name of your own original ideals, to hold firm to your peaceful, respectful, inclusive origins. I urge you to wake up early in your Zucotti park camp, grab some brooms and some trash bags, and begin to clean the area around you. I beg you to greet the advancing police with smiles and mops and buckets of soapy water. Then I pray, with all my heart, that you WILL disperse for a few short hours to rest, eat, take a nice hot shower and come back refreshed, to march another day.
By doing this, you will have continued on your path into a new America, when overworked and frustrated city police are not forced to beat and zip tie and haul off regular people like themselves. When peaceful protests are allowed to stay that way.
You can keep this incredible power in your own hands, or you can hand it in one short hour to Mayor Bloomberg and his power elite.
I’m behind you. I support you. I am really scared for you. Please, when the sun rises tomorrow, choose the 21st century answer.