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Happening Here

by MISSY BEATTIE

Because something is happening here
But you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones

~~Bob Dylan’s ”Ballad of a Thin Man”

Something is happening here, this movement called Occupy.

It’s the 99 percent vs. the 1 percent.  Seems overwhelmingly easy, like bowling pins targeting the ball instead of the reverse.  Picture it—the pins flying up the lane to knock the ball into the gutter.  Of course, the ball always has had the momentum and muscle.  It still does, but the oink-oink greed of the filthy rich, controlling our political system, our choices, our very existence, has become intolerable.  So much so that people, finally, have awakened from a stupor of illusion.

The 1 percenters exact an elevated status without regulation.  They believe it’s their due for generating huge profits despite criminal behavior, like the banking crisis of credit default swaps that ruined the economy and resulted in taxpayer bailouts.  Plus, there are nonfinancial companies among the 1 percent. They, like the bankers, use their money to influence policy.

And the 99 percent, well, obviously, that’s the multi-level majority (duh).  It encompasses people, like me, with a comfortable income, a home without a mortgage and, therefore, not rented from a banker, a car unencumbered by payments, health care that’s outrageously expensive but, at least, in place, and other resources, including the extra to purchase a bottle of wine when I make the decision either to celebrate or to wallow briefly in sorrow.  Yes, I, too, am among the 99 percent.  I just live closer on the spectrum to the demarcation separating us from the 1 percent.

Then, there’s the other end, the trail of squalor, a long line of blood, sweat, and tears.  Those residing at the lowest plane have lost their jobs, their homes, and their health coverage—any connection to personal security. At another or nearby echelon are college graduates who have little chance of attaining a position reflecting their major.  Or no opportunity for a career with benefits, the fulfillment of a dream, and no way to pay student loans.  Add the growing number of military veterans who are realizing that deployment to kill is one of the biggest shams in the history of scams.  That they are honored with words like “sacrifice” and “service to country” yet return to broken promises from the “deciders” who pull war’s devastating trigger.

So, I’m wondering about the quantities, 99 and 1.  What if this change that’s definitely happening here, despite cold winter months and the belief of the uber-affluent that wealth power is greater than the will of the people, shifts to 50 percent vs. 50 percent?  Or 20 percent vs. 80 percent?  Is there any level of racial injustice, poverty, or inequality that is acceptable?

I hope not.  I hope that no child goes hungry.  That no parent has to agonize over the untreated illnesses of their children.  That no one has to choose between food and medicine.  Or worry about shelter from the storm.

The occupations in cities all over this country may sputter at times, ebb a little, but they will flow and surge.  Agendas will continue to emerge, depending on the locations, but the message of solidarity, that the system is broken and must be built with a new foundation and manufactured with innovative parts, made in the USA, is clear:  a demand for dignity, human rights, and equality.

Thank you, young men and women at Occupy Wall Street for propelling this movement.

Because something is happening here.

Missy Beattie lives in Baltimore, Maryland.  She can be reached at:  missybeat@gmail.com.

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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: missybeat@gmail.com

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