Tuesday, 18 October 2011 15:23
Last September 17, 2011, a small group of less than 50 people gathered and camped at the Zuccotti Park near Wall Street in New York City – the hub of America’s financial institutions. They’re concerned that the middle class in America is shrinking – nay, vanishing! — with the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer and growing in numbers. They just want to be heard. They called themselves, “Occupy Wall Street” and vowed to stay until they’re heard. But they were ignored.
The financial executives went about their business, unmindful of the world outside their glistening ivory tower.
Instead, the protesters were ridiculed. Rep. Eric Cantor, the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, called them, “mobs.” Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain told the protesters: “Don’t blame the banks. Don’t blame the financial institutions. If you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself!”
*“We are the 99%!”
Within four weeks, the “Occupy Wall Street” movement spread like a prairie fire in 190 cities across America. And today, October 15, similar “Occupy” movements mushroomed around the world in solidarity with the “Occupy Wall Street.” Called “International Day of Action,” demonstrations in 951 cities and 82 countries were planned for this weekend. Their goal was to “elevate local social justice issues into one worldwide demonstration.”
It’s a phenomenon never before seen in human history! And like their American counterparts, protesters in North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, Latin American, and Africa chanted the cry that the “Occupy Wall Street” movement started, “We are the 99%!”
One of the first demonstrations in Europe was held in Milan, Italy where protesters pelted the police with fruits. And like a lashing tsunami, the “Occupy” demonstrations spread Rome, Toronto, Paris, Berlin, London, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo, Manila, Sidney, and other cities around the world.
The worldwide “Occupy” movement is beginning to look like the “people power” movement in the Philippines in 1986 and in Europe in 1989. The “people power” movement then was against dictatorial and totalitarian regimes. Today, the “Occupy” movement is about the evil of corporate greed and the excesses of wealthy capitalists whose unregulated policies and profiteering schemes have caused the financial meltdown in the U.S. in 2008, which eventually caused a global recession.
*“We’re the World”
In 1984, when millions of Ethiopians were starving from famine, the late singing icon Michael Jackson wrote the “We’re the World” song with Lionel Richie to raise funds for the starving Ethiopians. The people of the world heard the song and they gave money.
Today, it’s not just hunger for food that’s threatening the world. People around the world are hungry for social justice! If the world’s present civilization is to survive — and thrive — social justice must prevail and government must provide social services to the unfortunate poor, the jobless, the sick, and the infirm. We cannot be the Sparta of today where the weak and feeble do not have a place in a society built only for the strong. Nor can we be the land of “Herrenvolk” where people who do not fit the mold are shunned and treated as sub-humans. We cannot turn back the clock to those dark ages.
As the population of the world continues to grow, resources become scarcer. It did not then come as a surprise that the “Occupy” movement sprouted like mushrooms — they multiply when lightning strikes.
Little did the handful of young Americans who gathered peacefully at Zuccotti Park realize that they were about to start a “people power” movement driven by the desire to live in peace and prosperity. They just wanted to air their grievances to the executives of the financial institutions on Wall Street. They just wanted to be heard. Instead, the police responded with brutality on the demonstrators. One police officer was caught on video as he pepper sprayed a cowering unarmed woman.
The image of that senseless police brutality struck the world like lightning. On October 15, the people of the world responded.
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