I used to care. I used to watch the news. Hell, I used to even be semi-involved in local politics, but I had given up years ago. The news made me angry and sad. I had become content to occupy my own personal bubble.
Now I’m not.
With the financial backing of a Humboldt benefactor, I occupied Liberty Plaza, aka Zuccotti Park, aka Occupy Wall Street, from Oct. 19-26. I met dozens of remarkable folks while sleeping on cardboard (one night I slept on a piece of cardboard that had the preamble to the US Constitution written on it).They came for many reasons: Student loan debt, universal health care, end the wars, end the Fed, disappointed in Obama, Wal-Mart treats their workers like dirt, Verizon treats their workers like dirt, up with unions, down with greed.
I also met my long-lost Irish grandfather: 72-year-old John O’Conner, on his way to his 59th annual Catholic grammar school reunion. He was just in town for the day, but as a former union man and self-described “hooligan,” he needed to go Occupy Wall Street. He yelled to the masses, “God bless you for what you are doing!”
And there was Hazel, an unemployed-for-three-years social worker in her early 60s. She now gets by as a babysitter for the kids in her apartment building. One day, as I was holding my “Mothers for Revolution! Food and Healthcare for America’s Kids NOW!” sign, she approached to ask where the donation tables were located. Smartly and conservatively dressed, Hazel clutched a brown paper sack full of a few snack items. As I led her through the organized chaos toward the Food and Comfort stations, I saw her jaw drop.
“This is a whole new world everybody’s creating,” she said.
Yes, Hazel, yes it is.