Carlyle Fielding Stewart III

Writings on Democracy, Social Justice, and Religion

The Occupy Movement

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Recently, we have witnessed the emergence of the new American Occupy movement whose cries for justice, fairness and equality resonate with millions of people throughout this land. It is a movement that has taken  upon itself the concerns of the many, the 99 percenters, whose pleas and protests for human dignity and equality of opportunity often fall upon the deaf ears of their elected representatives in Washington.

It appears that America is moving toward a reguilded age, where rich and powerful individuals and corporations rule with an iron hand and the rights of the every man and woman are abbreviated or abolished. As we watch the slow and virtual disintegration of the best democracy on earth, every citizen who cares about the future of America should be highly mindful of what this foreshadows for our future and the future of our children.

As money and more money flood political coffers and lobbyists deluge the political process  by soiling, corrupting and skewing  public policy, derailing politics and anesthetizing certain politicians to the real needs of their constituents and by consistently slanting legislation in favor of a powerful oligarchic elite, and by so doing paralyzing the consciences and moral courage of some public servants, makes many of us wonder if  we are not truly and sadly losing America and if we are not careful, government of the people, for the people and by the people will perish from this earth.

The current trend of winner take all politics with its confiscatory impulses and predatory demands is devouring the very fabric and essence of American style democracy and if current trends go unchecked we might all find ourslves regrettably living as vassals begging bread  in a feudal society where the cherished rights and freedoms of an erstwhile democracy have faded from our collective view.

What is happening to America should be the concern of every citizen. We should be alarmed at what is unfolding before us. The absence of empathy for the poor, the ascension of the totalizing, privatizing corporatization of universities and the legislative, judicial and executive branches of government, the annexation of science and research, the domestication of state autonomy, the elimination of America’s manufacturing base, the delegimization of labor unions, the devaluation of same gender loving persons, the continued marginalization of black, white,  Latino  and other underclasses, the perpetual demonization of same gender loving people and the stupefaction of religious belief systems that demand our dazed non indulgence and a defeated dumbing down to draconian authoritarian leadership.

Meanwhile the virtues of American democracy are accorded a fiscal and intellectual elite and its vices  indelibly ascribed to the poor, working class who are demonized for being lazy and ostracized for being indigent. After all, if the poor are not working they need to get a job. It’s their fault if they are not gainfully employed, to paraphrase recent statements by Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich.

Are we observing  the gradual and wilful polarization of American democracy where those who are losing will continue to lose and those who are winniing will continue to win ? What is happening to America? After all has been taken away then what?

This new movement sweeping America is in the best of non violent traditions of protest which are as American as Henry David Thoreau, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Martin Luther King Jr. and as poignant and subtle as Herman Melville’s Bartleby the Scrivener.

To belittle the movement as nothing more than a meteoric flash of indignation blazing across the political and cultural landscape is to delude and bemuse ourselves. This movement is something more. It is a movement borne of the pain of many people that gives voice to the voiceless but is not enshrouded in permanent defeat nor thrives on incessant despair. It is a movement borne of the hopes and dreams of many Americans who too want back their country. They are Americans who want safe streets and opportunities for honest work; to live in their homes and pay their mortgages; to live and breathe freely; to exist as free striding people in a free thinking land;  a movement that has awakened the Rip Van Winkle in many  of us.

The Occupy movement is in the best of American style democracy. It should be taken seriously and not taken for granted. There should be something of occupy in all of us as we vouchsafe the virtues of our beloved country and live true to its higher ideals.  The Occupy movement stands for something important. Who will listen and heed their cries? The quiet dignity and civility of its adherents is a lesson in the savoir faire of positive American movements for social change.

Let us go forth and occupy a higher truth and morality so that we may reoccupy the virtues and promises of American style Democracy so that America can become a place where every living person can realize his or her greater potential as free citizens in a free country.

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