Why I’m Going to Help Occupy Freedom Plaza

This ran in the Charleston Gazette in September 2011.

The prospect of sleeping on paved ground in October in a big, scary city is hardly appealing to me, a 55-year old woman who prefers lots of padding and my quiet ridgetop home. So why am I planning to participate in the October2011 takeover of Freedom Plaza in Washington DC, starting October 6?

That day is the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan. The war there is not popular with Americans; neither is the one in Iraq. These wars have cost the lives of thousands of American soldiers, and the physical or mental health of tens of thousands, while draining resources badly needed at home. And if they’re unpopular here, imagine how the people of Iraq and Afghanistan (and Pakistan, and other places) feel about it. They’ve lost hundreds of thousands, have hundreds of thousands of widows and orphans. It’s scarcely surprising that they hate us—and this means the wars have made us less secure.

We could be more secure if we could create the hundreds of thousands of green jobs involved in a transition away from dependence on oil—but this never moves from talk to action, because the oil companies have veto power in Washington. Similarly, we could be healthier, more secure and save quite a bit of money if we had the kind of single-payer healthcare system European countries and Canada have—but that option, preferred by most Americans, was taken off the table at the start of the healthcare debate because insurance and drug companies have veto power..

Ours, once the proudest, richest and freest country in the world, has become a land where torture is accepted and the rule of law doesn’t apply to the powerful; where once inviolate Constitutional rights are now conditional but the Supreme Court affirms the rights of corporations; where the government gets more and more secretive while demanding the right to spy on citizens at will. The government bails out the banks while allowing families to be foreclosed on even when the paperwork was fraudulent. Following perhaps the greatest environmental disaster in the Gulf, our president okays more offshore drilling; following the worst nuclear disaster in history, even as Germany and Japan decide to end their nuclear programs, he pushes new loan guarantees for nuclear power. The media feature fluffy stories while ignoring critical problems.

This is a country in steep decline. It’s a nominal democracy where the desires of the people are irrelevant to policy makers. We are well past the time when we must rise to take our country back! If the people of Egypt and Tunisia could stand up to their dictators, occupying their Freedom Squares in huge numbers until they forced change, can we not do the same?

For more information, check out www.october2011.org . Come October 6, I expect to be “walkin’ like an Egyptian”!

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The Author

Mary Wildfire

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