Thursday, September 29, 2011

Protest Thoughts

By Kathleen

By far one of the strangest things about traveling is that you are so removed from things at home. Even in this day and age of instant communication and trans-Pacific flights you can still feel a world away from important events. Twice in six weeks I have felt like I’m missing something. The first was the hurricane, worst to hit the Northeast in decades and now the protests.

From here it is hard to tell the scope of these protests, from my own experience protesting the war in Iraq in 2003 I know that the media is often silent about these things and when they do report the numbers are often skewed, heavily, towards the smaller side.

While I cannot gauge the scale of these protests I can say that I am glad they are taking place. There are too many serious issues hanging over my generation to be borne in silence anymore.

The NYTimes says that the protests are “an expression of anger over a financial system that they [the protestors] say favors the rich and powerful at the expense of ordinary citizens. (September 17, 2011, 4:26 pm)” 

The protests are an expression of not just anger but frustration and disappointment in a country and system that has failed to address some of the most serious problems facing not only our economy and our generation but of our planet.

The protesters have been accused of lacking any central talking points, of rallying without cohesive demands.  What are their concerns, what do they want?

Traveling I have heard many grievances too many to name I have been told, by friends, by strangers by people I have met at home an abroad. If you don’t know what we are angry about then you haven’t been paying attention to the state of our times.

This is not a post about what we don’t want, but about what we do. The list is long to be sure. There are things I have left out, but we need to be focusing on the positive. If not we will end up being a reaction not an action and a reaction cannot create, only destroy. Our country is becoming more volatile every year. The cracks between rich and poor, between young and old and blue and red have widened into gaps that no one seems willing to cross.

War has torn us apart. The economy has ruined many. If we hope to change anything, to really change we need to overcome the hate, the mistrust and the anger that the media wants us to hold onto and instead come together over common goals.

The United Sates of America, in spite of our foreign policy, our corporate greed, our destruction of the environment  is still to me the best country on Earth. Everywhere I go I have met wonderful Americans, from every walk of life, from every political side, from many religions.

They are by far some of the most optimistic, outgoing and polite people in the world. We get a bad rap it’s true but we try to fix it, one by one with our smiles and our curiosity. We Americans, we the people are what makes our country so great.

We as Americans try, we really do, we try to believe, we try to get along and we try to make the best out of bad and awkward situations. It’s not until you leave the country and travel to other places that you being to see the genius vision that our founding fathers had, a vision of equality and freedom that is yet to be matched anywhere.

That being said, it is often yet to be matched at home.

All we as a generation want is for our futures to be as bright as our parents and grandparents and for our children and grandchildren to be able to stand on good clean earth, eat good clean food, drink good clean water and be proud to be citizens of such a diverse and wonderful country.

We want jobs that fully utilize our talents and our minds, that don’t condemn us to a life of minimum wage and juggling part time shifts. We want freedom from the fear of poverty, we want the opportunity to use our degrees in productive and creative ways.

We want our environment to be respected, to be looked after and to be healthy. We want the long term sustainability of the Earth to be more important that the bottom line. We want our water to be clean of contaminates, our soil clean from chemicals that makes us sick.

We want there to be fish in the sea in 10, 30, 400 years. We want there to be trees and clean air. We want to find innovative ways of living with the environment. We want to change our lifestyles and balance our desires for comfort and our need for sustainability. We want to do it now.

We want our families to be healthy, and to be able to receive quality affordable healthcare regardless of where and if we work. We want the U.S to join other industrialized nations in offering comprehensive national healthcare and parental leave time.

We want schools to be centers of learning not a political fighting ground. We want teachers to be able to teach without fear of losing their jobs because of ever changing testing benchmarks that limit, not measure, children’s ability to learn. A free country stands on the education of its public and we are committed to free quality public education at all levels of learning.

We want people to be people and business to be businesses. Corporations should not have legal personhood, period. We want to close the gap between rich and poor. We want to be relived fully or partially of the incredible burden of student loan debt which shackles so many young Americans and cripples their ability to create a life for themselves and contribute to the economy.

We want people, legislators and politicians to be held accountable for their actions. Wealth should not be a barrier to justice and greed should not be an acceptable reason to look the other way.

We want people of all religions and all colors to be respected. We want all citizens to be free to worship or not worship what and who they want without fear of persecution, suspicion of general mistrust. We want citizens of every ethnic background to be respected as Americans, equally and wholly without division into greater and lesser sub categories of such.

Caring about the environment is not political, we all live here. Caring about our jobs is not political, we all need and want to earn a living. Caring about equality and tolerance is not political, it is what makes us American.

What we want as a generation is simple, it is not hard to accomplish and it is not expensive. The only thing required to make it happen is that we as Americans try. Try to rise above our differences in politics, in religion, in race and come together to create something for the greater good.

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