“Those Dirty, Smelly, Rat-Infested, Bad-for-Local-Business, Unfocused Sidelines”
Every movement is met with the inertia of those who sit on the sidelines yelling in and wagging a critical finger. Occupy is no different. The media are filled with editorials lambasting the Occupiers for lack of focus and abundance of distracting forms of health and local- business hazards, as well as the costs associated with these. As well, there is apparently the sad state of public affairs that while most people polled agree with the sentiment of the Occupy Movement a minority agree with the tactics of encampment, and most who don’t like the camps also don’t like what they perceive as a lack of leadership and coherent demands.
The sideliners miss the point. The Occupy Movement welcomes their points of view, as the Occupy Movement is open to all points of view. It’s just the sideliners’ tactics Occupy disagrees with. Passive tactics such as telling a movement what it is doing wrong even as the movement holds its doors open and invites multiple points of view just don’t jive with the definition of movement. They don’t help to move things forward.
The Occupy Movement is about 99% of the population. It’s safe to say that the vast, vast majority of sideliners are part of the 99%. Thus, the issue as I see it is that the sideliners are sitting waiting for those of us involved in the movement to get whatever kind of tactical and ideological groove on that the sideliners wish we would. It would, in fact, be a much happier, productive and supportive act were the sideliners to step off the sidelines and get in on defining and executing the ideology and tactics of the movement. It is both sad and perplexing that they haven’t, as simply sidelining is an inadvertent act of dismissing the very critiques the sideliners offer. They are saying, “You should do it my way. Here, I have this idea.” Yet, in defining themselves as outside the movement looking in, they are neutralizing the power of their way and their idea, as were they to define themselves as in the movement they would have the opportunity to influence.
To you who say the movement needs leaders, well step in and become one. To you who say the camps have become a dirty distraction, well occupy your living room with a clean set of friends and neighbors and talk about and then enact a different way. To you who say the movement needs a clear and focused set of grievances and demands, do as the “Founding Fathers” did and dare to write your Declaration of Independence and your Constitution. Be Luther and pin something to the door that locks the 99% out of the public sphere! Bring these to one of the many General Assemblies to put up for a vote. To you who sit on the sidelines screaming and wagging that the movement must clearly state its members oppose the violence of the 100 or so pseudo-anarchists in the crowd, well, perhaps if all of you had voted in the General Assembly in which this proposal was voted upon the proposal would’ve passed.
In the absence of such bold and needed moves by you who sit idly on the sidelines, those of us on the various and varied front lines we have actively created will simply and sadly have to say that it is you, by refusing to create what you tell us you want us, instead, to create, who are responsible for the things you find woeful. As the ethical adage goes, if you are a passive bystander to an act which you might have stopped, you are complicit in that act.
If you are against what the Occupy movement fundamentally symbolizes, the loud lament that the 99% are getting fast squeezed to death as the super-rich get super richer, then yell louder at us from the sidelines. If you are only against the way Occupy is voicing and focusing that lament, please consider yourself a part of the movement. Create the change you want, don’t wag it at the rest of us from the sidelines. You may not want us, which is one big reason why we so want you!