By Ruth Limkin
Wall Street has been ‘occupied’ for a month now. According to the Wall Street Journal the protest movement in New York also now has $300,000 in donations, which is a little ironic considering the exact cause being donated to is still undefined.
“For the most part, the protest action remained loosely organized and there were no specific demands, something Legba Carrefour, a participant in the Occupy D.C. protest, found comforting on Sunday. “When movements come up with specific demands, they cease to be movements and transform into political campaign rallies,” said Carrefour, who works as a coat check attendant despite holding a master’s degree in cultural studies.
Occupy Wall Street is certainly making news, but whether it makes a difference will depend a little bit on whether those involved can ever articulate what they want.
Closer to home, the 58 year old organiser of Occupy Brisbane, Thomas Brookes, remains upbeat even though protest numbers have dropped from 200 to around 30 as of Monday. Brookes has told the Courier Mail that the protest ‘would last indefinitely’.
Explaining his involvement with the protest, Brookes said, “This is something I’ve waited my whole life for, to make a change” .
I applaud Mr Brookes desire to make a change, but I hope that before Mr Brookes ‘occupied’ my city, he first served my city.
The protest movements are ostensibly against corporate greed and they have a point. It may just not be the point they think. Corporate greed is a blight on our society, but it starts as individual greed. Corporations are lead, and staffed, by individuals. Ultimately, covetousness, theft and the insatiable desire for instant gratification is an individual folly, even when it is expressed within the relative anonymity of corporate culture.
It may also be that we are in some ways complicit in the culture of greed that we’re all so judgemental of. Let’s face it, much of the money made by banks is the profit from credit cards and debt we accrue to finance a lifestyle of entitlement, if not extravagance. Compared to much of the world, we live like kings.
If we really want to make a change, we must find a need and fill it. I suspect that anyone busy serving their city – helping the poor, teaching children, providing emergency services, raising a family or employing staff – would be too busy to protest by sitting in a park for an indefinite number of days.
Perhaps before we occupy anything, we should look inside and see what occupies our heart.
If we are more concerned with ourselves than with others, and with accumulation rather than philanthropy, then the change we call for may need to start a little closer to home.
I know it does with me.