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A Garden Grows on Wall Street

The agents for change are multiplying. On Sunday, their drumming could be heard throughout Wall street, and their chants echoed in and around the ears of the tourists flocking towards the newly opened World Trade Center memorial one block away. The consistent banging of their drums provoked children, teens, and curious adults to ask the most popular question on the block, “What is going on over there?”

That question has turned out to be the administration’s worst enemy, as it sums up the true tempo and effectiveness of Occupy Wall Street. Curiosity is peaking. Questions are being asked. Answers are being traded. What is truly going on Wall Street? And why are hoards of patriotic Americans making nationwide pilgrimages to New York?

“I’m a child from the sixties who took part in the protests in Washington. I drove up from Maryland with my book club to support the youth and protect them anyway we can from the police,” said a white-haired librarian with extensive health issues.

“I’m sick of all these tuition increases, and I’m so afraid I’m not going to find a job when I graduate to cover all this. I see both my older brothers sitting at my mom’s house jobless and broke, and they both have degrees and are drowning in debt,” said a young Columbia student wearing a hand-painted face mask.

Their complaints varied in breadth and depth, and the list was long. Yet, underneath the stack of grievances, there is a common thread that weaves their stories together. What Occupy Wall Street protesters want most is a government that serves the people of America, not corporations. They want to see change in the way campaigns are financed. They want to put a stop to corporate greed, outrageous bonuses, and unwarranted wars. They want to know why the government is doing nothing in a tough job market to help create new jobs, and not offering incentives to companies to hire within its borders rather than outsource jobs abroad. Frustrated, they want to see the CHANGE promised by Obama, and they want to see justice, equality, and true liberty for all. To sum it up, the voices erupting from Wall Street  all have justifiable grievances. The people want their great country back. They want to return to fulfilling their dreams.

Despite what the mass media wants the general public to believe, Occupy Wall Street is not a junkyard for hippies. Instead, it is a great example of a self-sufficient, organized community. What else would you expect from some of the most hardcore environmentalists, activists, and seasoned intellectuals from all walks of life — all meeting together in one place? Occupy Wall Street has turned into a collaborative and interactive platform for progressive reform. There are businessmen, government workers, teachers, blue and white collar types, professors, students, economists, philosophers, the brightest students from the best schools in the country, lawyers, doctors, brothers, sisters, babies and their mothers. The media should be very careful how they describe the protest or its attendees. Tomorrow, their brothers and mothers could be amongst the crowd.

Occupy Wall Street represents the collective grievances of the 99%. Every type of constituent profile is represented — and this is no joke. Not only domestically, but many foreign travelers have arrived in New York — not wanting to see the Statue of Liberty or the World Trade Memorial, but to take part in Occupy Wall Street. The French, Italians, Swedes, Croatians, Russians, Spaniards and more have also joined the assembly to show their support on behalf of their native lands. So, why has the general media been hiding the true story from us?

The people are finally speaking and thinking for themselves instead of the media speaking for the people. Can you imagine a medium-sized park that is half the size of a soccer field, positioned parallel to Wall Street and the World Trade Center, being turned into a great example of self-sufficiency? For the White House administration, Occupy Wall Street has turned into its biggest embarrassment.

These so-called “jobless hippies” have managed to cultivate a thriving cultural community in a matter of a few weeks. They have set up a library, a medical station, a printmaking circle, a printed newspaper, food kitchen, prayer corner, music space, recycling station, open platforms for speeches, interactive forums for exchanging ideas and finding solutions to problems. They are making small steps towards massive reform. All of this is happening just one block away from where the tragic event on September 11th claimed the lives of thousands of innocent Americans. The frustrated voices of thousands of nationals are marching for FREEDOM!

So can this go on forever? Costing the city millions in overtime pay for police officers, Mayor Bloomberg is now saying “the kids” can stay in the park for as long as they want – possibly indefinitely.  Bloomberg’s recent warm announcement to the “problem” is due to the fact that the city can’t legally remove the protesters from their space. The park is private property and, so far, the owner of the space has no issues with the “occupiers.” Forced to change his tune, Bloomberg says the only thing that can prevent them now may be the weather.

The mayor sounds confident that protesters will withdraw back into their homes once temperatures drop this coming winter. However, if Occupy Wall Street should have to extend its stay into the cold season, this writer is going to call on all the native tribes across the land to come camp out in teepees for the holidays. Can you imagine the increase in compassion and awareness that would be generated amongst the global masses, if the world saw thousands of vets, senior citizens, teachers, and hopeless youngsters camped out in front of Wall Street in teepees and tents in the freezing cold? And for what? A job? A trip to the doctor? Peace of mind? WHAT?

How about, a peaceful and bountiful global village for our children?

Suzy Kassem is a writer, poet, philosopher, human rights activist, filmmaker, and true citizen of the world. She is also the author of ‘Rise Up and Salute the Sun‘ by Awakened Press. 

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