BY BOB BEARDEN
Despite all of the whining and vilifying by pundits on the right, the Occupy Movement continues to grow. It doesn’t have the big bucks of the Koch Brothers’ fueled Tea Party, but it has something that the Tea Partiers lack: Legitimacy and relevance.
Occupiers aren’t bussed in on busses provided at no cost by “Americans for Prosperity.” They provide their own transportation or they catch a ride with a friend. They don’t just show up on cue and then disperse when the busses leave.
They are akin to Margaret Mead’s “small group of thoughtful committed citizens,” not to Tea Baggers, many of whom didn’t know Medicare and Social Security were government-run programs and often couldn’t spell simple words and phrases.
No, the Occupiers know what they are talking about. They get it and they know why they are doing what they are doing. They are truly “thoughtful committed citizens out to change the world!”
And for the betterment of not just a privileged few but for everyone.
Just like in our Constitution they want to re-establish justice, insure our domestic tranquility, provide for our common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty for themselves and their posterity, regardless of race, color, creed, gender, sexual orientation or economic status.
They know that the Boston Tea Party was not about not paying taxes. It was about having a say in how those taxes were levied and dispersed. They know what our Constitution says. That is it liberty and justice for all, not just an elite few privileged old rich guys, big oil barons and high-rise, corner-dwelling CEOs!
They get it!
And as Occupy Wall Street spreads across the country government officials at all levels are reacting predictably. They see this movement as threatening to their authority. And well they should – because it is.
They are the ones who are in charge and have been in charge of our nation from the cities to the seat of power in Washington, DC. They have a responsibility for the calamity that our nation and its citizens have been brought to.
They have indulged the oil barons, the mighty high-rise, corner-dwelling CEO’s and allowed them to run rampant and unchecked. Giving them whatever they asked for or demanded without reservation or thought of consequence.
They have neglected our cities, our counties, our states and our infrastructure seeking to curry favor with every CEO and Koch Brother wannabe that came down the pike. Not to make their cities, towns, counties and states livable and affordable for their constituents – no they did it for the almighty dollar.
They have raced to give handouts to companies and corporate interests easing their tax burdens to the point that they often pay no taxes at all. Just to get then to relocate to their state, town or city without regard for what kind of company they were or whether or not they paid their employees a living wage.
With corporate interests that pay little or no taxes for the pleasure of their pollution and rape of a state, city or township that leaves the middle class and low wage earners to pay for the services and repairs that are needed to run a town, county or city.
So roads get neglected. Sewer lines are allowed to deteriorate and the “city beautiful” pretty much doesn’t exist anymore. But city officials scream to anyone who will listen, “We’re a Big League city!”
Yeah, with rotting sewers and potholes that would swallow an elephant, that’s big league all right.
So, yes, they have a vested interest in seeing the Occupy Wall Street movement die on the vine. It challenges their authority in a way that they don’t like and it points out to the world that they aren’t good stewards of the land they are presiding over.
There is an old Native American Proverb that goes, “We don’t own this land, it was given to us by our ancestors to hold in sacred trust for our children and grandchildren. It is up to each of us to administer that trust wisely and in such a way that when our time on earth is over our children and grandchildren will be able to say thank you mother, thank you father you have lived life well and have given us the land in the same condition that is was entrusted to you!”
Greed, avarice and the chase for the almighty dollar blinds so many of our elected officials that they will never be able to say to their children “Here is the land that was given to me by my ancestors. I hand it to you as it was handed to me. Protect it and keep it in sacred trust for your children and your grandchildren!”
Occupy Wall Street as a movement is a time that has come and none too soon. Taking back our cities, our states and our nation is a priority that must happen if we as a people are to survive! It is time we brought back the phrase popularized by John F. Kennedy in his inaugural speech of 1961, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country!”
– Bob Bearden is secretary of the Central Oklahoma Human Rights Alliance and a trustee of the Central Oklahoma Labor Federation