Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Other 99%

This is my first blog entry in a few weeks, since I am recuperating from my second abdominal surgery this year. As I have lain in bed timing painkillers and waiting for my hernia "repair" to heal, I have had lots of time to think but little energy to write. If I make it to the end of this post, it means my equilibrium is at least on the way to being restored.

This seems like the right moment for a brief retrospective. I am in my tenth month of recording here, with what now looks to me like astonishing prolixity, my thoughts that once seemed too "hot" to appear as Facebook notes. My "friends" there, including people I had known for a very long time and others I barely knew at all, had been taking offense, so I decided not to bother them. If you've started reading my blog since then, that explains the title.

I'm glad to say that my ruse has worked. I have gotten no complaints, even though I link every new post on Facebook and now on Google+ as well. I seem to have been accepted as harmless. I've taken advantage of that, and have written here, with what I hope has occasionally bordered on poetry, of the often unbearable tension that simply following current events can create within my American soul.

I am, as I have said before, an American liberal, who was born in the 50s, grew up in the 60s and came of age in the 70s. I have always understood liberalism to mean passionate advocacy of the greatest possible freedom for the most possible people. I have been happiest when our politicians have acted with the people's interest at heart, and most miserable when they have colluded with wealth and power to squelch opportunity and enforce conformity. I do not recognize myself in the mocking caricature of the "big government liberal" to be found frequently on Fox News and elsewhere. I am the real thing.

I have recorded here my ongoing disillusionment with being forced to live out my adult life in an America vastly different from what I expected it to become. But I have also expressed my hope that my fellow Americans are better than they often seem, and that we still have it within ourselves to continue to offer the world genuine leadership. If I'm wrong, we will simply become increasingly irrelevant, while continuing to be an active drag on the world's economy and physical environment. I hope I'm not wrong, and when I have expressed disillusionment here, it has been solely in the hope of reaching out. I know, based on many private communications I've received, that I'm not just preaching to the converted. I may not have a huge readership, but I am expanding people's minds.

Today I simply want to go on record saying that the current Occupy Wall Street protests, now spreading to other urban areas throughout the country, are the most hopeful and encouraging thing I have seen in a very long time. Like many, I have been confused by what exactly they are and what the protesters hope to achieve. I may be getting a vague idea of what 60s radicalism looked like to people who were my age when it began. I will be generous enough to assume that the mainstream media have been baffled too, and have not, as can easily appear to be the case, simply been ignoring the protests. I am writing this from my sickbed because I want to make it clear that they are too significant to be ignored. The onus will increasingly be on those who are baffled to justify their bafflement, and to search their souls to figure out just what they are missing.

There is no reason to be baffled. It's been a long time coming, but we finally have a critical number of people whose awareness of wrong, and whose hope for the future, wealth and power cannot control. Whether or not the rest of us have caught on yet, they are the other 99%. They are America. If this country meets its current challenges, it will be because of them. If it fails, it will be despite them. Fortunately, it looks like they're here to stay.

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