I knew there was something bothering me about the slogan used in the Occupy Wall Street Protests. Maybe it was when a man burst into a restaurant screaming “$@%& the Patriot Act” – what did the patriot act have to do with the 99%? Or maybe it was two people, dressed comfortably in coats and shoes, rudely interacting with the immigrant man who runs the fruit stand on the corner as he politely asked them to move away so people could buy fruit. Was I seeing legitimate protesters, passionate for change, or was I seeing anarchists with no real agenda or solutions? On Sunday I realized that I had not yet identified what really troubled me after a friend posted a challenging picture on her Facebook wall.
We are the 1%. Others do not live like we do in the United States. Remembering the starving babies and toddlers in Pakistan, their bones sticking through translucent, dehydrated skin, their lips puckered at a mom’s empty breast – they are the 99%. Moving on to Somalia, women and children walking towards the borders to escape extremists and famine, a double threat, almost falling to the ground in exhaustion – they are the 99%. Or how about Kolkata, slums burgeoning with people, poverty inescapable.
We, with homes to go to, bikes to ride, ability to protest without fear, heat in the winter, fans in the summer, and lattes once the protest is finished – we are the one percent. Perhaps what we need is to be saved from ourselves.
Bloggers Note: There are legitimate frustrations from the Occupy Wall Street group, and I agree with many of them. The money given to Wall Street was money ill spent. The outrageous salaries and bonuses given to many is mind-boggling. But, just as in public health when we get a message wrong and have to rethink it, as well as rewrite it, in order to get the response we want, I believe the “We are the 99%” messaging needs to be rethought and retooled.