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It’s All We’ve Got


“I like good strong words that mean something.”

~Louisa May Alcott, Little Women 

Good strong words are essential.  Not merely during a debate but, also, in selecting a label, slogan, or to frame a mission.

Take the words “left” and “right,” for example.  They’re not good. Instead, they’re divisive, extreme, and can be exploited by elites who use the “left” interchangeably with “socialism” and “liberals” and, also, use the “right” to characterize “ultraconservatism” or “fundamentalism.”

This is why “the 99 percent” is a brilliant choice. “We are the 99 percent.” Who but the 1 percent can’t identify?  A vast mosaic, the 99 percent encompass people with a wide range of values. All residing within the number can get behind an indictment of those who criminally plunged our economy into a depression.

This is why it’s important to support the Occupy Movement or Occupy Wall Street (OWS) and admit that old methods of protests have been ineffective.  That we peaceniks, who’ve marched, lobbied Congress, signed petition after petition, risked arrest, and have been arrested, have accomplished little against a powerful, organized crime ring.  And that each of us among the many peace and justice organizations must discuss OWS and offer whatever we can to help.

Being just for peace means dialoguing with the system, asking it to stop the drone attacks and end war.  The challenge is lost before it’s begun, because an attempt to negotiate with the system fails 99 percent of the population.

For now, OWS is ignoring the system.  The leaderless group understands the corruption of politics, owned by Wall Street. And it, also, grasps that elections are meaningless. Voting for the lesser of two evils extends the status quo and guarantees that the men and women who say they represent us continue to take their goody bags to the bank, plumping their accounts with contributions from uber-moneyed, filthy-wealthy donors that profit from war and murder, from polluting our planet with radiation and petroleum leaks, from poisons in our food supply, and from drugs that are often more harmful than the diseases they treat.

But let’s back up a second and scrutinize the word “war.”  We’re really not at war. We’re at genocide.  As Bill Hicks said, a war requires two opposing armies. What we execute is the testing of new weaponry on people who have sticks and stones and improvised explosive devices.

I’ve heard the criticisms leveled at OWS.  I’m unconcerned by complaints that the many groups in cities and communities across the country may be unfocused. I care that OWS is viable, surging, and that it isn’t co-opted.  Right now, it’s all we’ve got.

Missy Beattie lives in Baltimore, Maryland.  She can be reached


Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail:

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