Occupy an idea

Hopeful: Shelby Thorpe (left), Elysha Fairclough (right) (Photo by Vicente Capala)

It’s painful to think the revolution of Generation Y will be remembered as a joke. It hurts to think that we will be remembered as jobless, homeless vagabonds who started the Occupy Wall Street movement a year ago Sept. 17.

Because that movement was pointless, right?

Occupy accomplished nothing, right? Well, maybe that’s not completely right.

Despite receiving flack from the media and non-occupiers about not having concrete demands, a woman holding a sign at a rally inadvertently displayed what would be Occupy’s lasting effect on this country.

The sign read, “This is the 1st time I’ve felt hopeful in a very long time.”

Occupy Wall Street and the subsequent global Occupy movement started a conversation about economic disparity in this country.

It was a message that, though not everyone is a scholar, politician or economist, they don’t have to be to know that there is something inherently wrong about 1 percent of the population in this country having 35 percent of the wealth.

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There is something inherently wrong when 53.6 percent of bachelor’s degree-holders under the age of 25 last year were jobless or underemployed.

There is something inherently wrong when 41 percent of the homeless population in this country are families.

But the movement didn’t just address concerns about income inequality. It also brought to light the fact that us Americans are not as free as we think we are.

CBS News reported 400 Occupy protesters were arrested within the first two months of the movement last year. The Associated Press reported that 180 people were arrested by Monday evening on the one-year anniversary of Occupy.

News coming out of Occupy areas state that the protests are generally peaceful.

What ever happened to “the right of the people peacefully to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances”?

And what ever happened to congress making no law “prohibiting the free press or thereof; or abiding the freedom of speech, or of the press.”

According to the press freedom index released by Reporters Without Borders, a non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating obstacles journalist face while working globally, the United States dropped 27 places in its freedom of press ranking from last year.

The United States is now ranked 47th in the world in regard to press freedoms, only five spots higher than Haiti and three spots less free than South Korea.

And, last but not least, the Occupy movement served as a reminder of what democracy is.

Whether you agree with any message Occupy put out is irrelevant to this point.

Simon Critchley, writer for The Guardian, said it best: “The Occupy movement is fascinating from the standpoint of the separation of politics and power. To be with the Occupy protestors when the chant went up, ‘this is what democracy looks like,’ was really powerful, as was the way in which they conducted general assemblies peacefully, horizontally and non-coercively.”

One would have to be completely out of the political loop to think that both presidential candidates are not addressing issues and using phrases coined and brought into mainstream society by the Occupy movement.

So was the Occupy movement worthless? Did it only glamorize the ideals of lazy vagabond?

Or did it work to give people hope that through unity and one voice, we can at least bring our concerns to the table?

It’s probably true that most people are not willing to grab a picket sign and camp in parks to prove a point.

But maybe Occupy can inspire us to occupy an idea and know that not all hope is lost for the 99 percent.