I get the rage.

If I were young, instead of vibrantly middle-aged, and I faced low employment prospects, a strong likelihood that I wouldn’t be able to live comfortably in a place that is safe, I’d be pissed, too. In fact, I am angry that there is a sense of despondency and hopelessness that has lead to Occupy movement.

It is clear that this country’s youth faces difficult prospects. In fact, the American dream looks pretty grey right now. We are stuck in an economic malaise, in a political stalemate that looks like it is a decade from ending, saddled with wars and worldwide responsibilities on the rise while our influence wanes. It looks like things suck all over.  If I were in college or in my twenties, I’d be pissed, too.

But I am not in my twenties. I am comfortably in my forties. I make a good living. I am not downtrodden. I believe that I can make a better life for me and my family through my own efforts. The only one holding me back is me. So I am not the 99%.

But I am not the 1% either. I work because I must, because my kids need food and shoes and hot water. I am not a master of the universe. I do not engage in speculative option derivatives that require governmental bailouts. I am NOT Wall Street.

Where do I fit? I am deeply concerned about this country. We are breaking apart, but not viciously like in the 1860’s or the 1960’s, but rather like a married couple who slowly move apart because it is easier to not talk than to fight. We take a step away from the other side, liberal or conservative, into the silence of our own beliefs. The discourse between left and right has ended.

But then come the children, with their ideas and their visions of opportunity and fairness and equality. But for their acts of civil disobedience, I have yet to feel the fire. Many talk about the Occupiers as if the are spoiled brats who do not wish to fix, but rather only point out blame. They have the ideal, but no vision of how to execute it. And those that they occupy against, well, they are entombed in their own privilege.  An occupation of public streets has little impact when you have no reason to use them.

This is a battle of the haves and don’t yet haves, not the haves and the have nots. The social issues aren’t about race or gender-equality, or even wars. The issues are ones of class in a classless society. But I am neither a have or a yet to have.

I have some. I want some more. But I want my kids to have even more. I don’t want them to feel entitled, but I want them to have what they deserve, which is everything that I have and whatever they are willing to work for on top of that.

So, I am neither the 99% or the 1%. But I, too, am full of rage. But my rage is at both the 99% and the 1%. For 99ers -if you want more, work more. Be creative and kind and generate your own opportunities. For the 1% – if you haven’t asked yourself what your responsibility to the society that gave you the opportunity to be a 1%er, then shame on you. Put your money and your mind to work to make this a better place.

For those of us on the left or right, remind yourself every day that they are not wrong and you are not right on every issue. Responsibility can be exercised in the paying down of debt or in the spending of money to make a difference. Both sides are right. It is our responsibility as the stewarts of our society to make collaborative decisions, not partisan ones.

 

My protest song would be short – “Come together.” Who wants to march?

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The 99ers would argue that you are, in fact, one of them, by the nature of the fact that you are not part of the top 1% that have more wealth than half of all Americans combined.

I find it hard not to be sympathetic to them. If I were a recent college grad with $200K in student loan debt and no prospect for a job, I would be outraged too. Unfortunately, their movement is in danger of being co-opted by wingnuts and/or politician. When you have people with legitimate gripes standing alongside hobos and conspiracy nuts (9/11 was an inside job!) it dilutes the impact and scares off the mainstream. Not to mention making them easy targets for cheap shots by the media.

October 7, 2011 7:11 pm

I am sympathetic. And the debt hole is a hard one to climb out of, but no harder that the trough that was the great depression, or the rebuilding efforts after WWII or the entrenchment in Korea or Vietnam…we seem simply trapped by ideology and not by common purpose.

The occupy movement is noble, but it comes from a bleak place. And, I think part of the bleakness comes from the fact that there is a huge challenge in making this world a better place, and more locally, making America a better place. For the first time in our history (maybe) our young folks are faced with an uphill battle to have what the previous generation had (never mind having more) and that sucks. But they can succeed, and those of us who are closer to the 1% need to pitch in, and the 1% need to invest into the social fabric of our country, not the economic fabric.

October 7, 2011 7:48 pm

Well put Tim, you enunciated the way I’ve been feeling about these Wall St. protests very well. Of course, you are the most talented wordsmith I know. Keep it up.

October 8, 2011 12:36 am

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