To the Mothers and Fathers of America:
This may not be clear to you yet, but those protestors out in the streets are your bravest children. They now hold the front for all of us in the centuries-old battle against tyranny. Many are fighting the corrupting influence of money in American politics, others against a system no longer functional for a majority that will only grow.
Some do not know exactly what they want–only that something has gone terribly wrong in a country in which they would like to believe.
They have not articulated one focused message, or one set of demands–and they do not need to. This is not a battle of right against left, red against blue, or liberal against conservative. It is not made-for-TV politics. It is a battle of right against wrong. America has lost, in its political discourse and behavior, the ability to distinguish between the two. Many of its practitioners seem not to care.
Those who support this movement in all its myriad shapes, sizes, sexes, colors, ideologies, income levels, and nationalities–have no sound bite. They get the problem, in general, and are massing to change it. Like the old thinker, they would rather be approximately correct than precisely wrong.
They give their nights, their sleep, their weekends, and their comfort to fight an uncertain battle for you, for all your children. They face police lines and mainstream scorn. They face the indifference of the vast armies of complacency and distraction, who keep waiting for the channel to change, the web page to update, and this movement to end. They face cynics who believe nothing will change, they face the often well-intentioned defeatists who believe nothing can change. They face politicians who patronize, tell them they don’t understand–that they, the politicians, support the movement, even as they make plans with their police forces to clear them.
On Tuesday, October 25th in Oakland, California, Scott Olsen, a 24-year-old Marine and Iraq veteran, standing beside another veteran, a naval officer in dress, was critically injured by a weapon used against him by a police officer from one of 17 jurisdictions in the San Francisco Bay Area. A group of occupiers running away from the scene, amidst police flash grenades, tear gas, and rubber bullets, rushed back when they saw Scott Olsen lying still on the ground. As they rushed in to pick him up–a dozen of your bravest, America–an unidentified officer tossed, from behind police ranks, another flash grenade at their feet. A handful of these unarmed protestors persisted, carrying Scott Olsen, dazed with a fractured skull, away from the police line, shouting for medics as the explosions and smoke recalled the nightmare of American battlefields.
Like this, the guns have again been turned back on your bravest children, most fighting only for the core values they were taught as children: people in need should be helped; democracy should be uncorrupted; citizens must gather in peace; and this country belongs to all of us, not a political elite increasingly indistinguishable from a financial and industrial corporate elite. Like all of us, they see clearly and abhor this crony capitalism now ascendent. They are doing something about it.
These are not trouble-making hippies, America–you mistake them as such at your peril. These are your better angels, trying to save you from yourself. They are your child that cannot help tell the truth, the sometimes inconvenient one that thinks of safety last and justice first. They are fighting the war that rages inside you when you see the circus on TV, in print, or online and can only shake your head. You ignore them, laugh at them, demean them, or discount them at your peril. They may be our last hope of transformation for this country reeling from war, from a crisis of confidence, from scandal, division, corruption, and poverty. Let no demagogue–especially talkers at the service of money and power–convince you, a thinking American, that these are not patriots of the truest kind.
So go out and support your children, America, and with them the fundamental ideas upon which this country was founded. Take a walk by the protest in your town at night, in the morning–drive by or bike past. Stop and talk to someone for a minute. Listen and watch. Gather your friends and neighbors. Everyone has their own place and their own role.
For every Scott Olsen, now lying in a hospital bed in critical condition, there should be 100,000 witnesses, who by their presence lend this movement strength and legitimacy.
As long as they occupy the centers of our cities, big and small, we–who wish to create a more perfect union–have an opening to change something vital, such as removing money from politics once and for all. It is possible. It has been done elsewhere. These children have brought the season of democracy, the days and especially nights of renewing democracy, and they need your protection.
Even your bravest children need to feel your strong hands on their back.