The recent series of organized protests that started in New York City and/or Canada, known as Occupy Wall Street, are a testament to the changing social environment in our nation. While necessary and important, these protests are on the heels of those who have been experiencing the effects of social injustices, corporate greed, and corrupt politics for many years. The squeeze on the middle class has amplified this effort and picked up a new momentum towards the goal of equality and justice.
Historically, the lack of this type of cross-cultural, socio-economic and intergenerational demonstration may have stemmed from the fact that the middle class had been in a comfort zone. They had access to good-paying jobs, healthcare benefits, retirement and homeownership. And while minority and under-class groups of society were suffering, the middle class did not rally, and was not actively engaged in their fight for social and economic justice. What Occupy Wall Street shows us is that the middle class has been attacked, robbed of their ideal existence and experiencing a revolt much like that of the civil rights era. Obviously, including the underclass by name (99%) lends credence to the fact that we are all in the same boat when it comes to fighting against corporate greed.
Some would argue, it's about time! But what event or series thereof had to happen? Let see, could it be the scandal with Enron, Halliburton, or the Weapons of Mass Destruction hallucination? Oh, maybe it was the housing derivatives, the bank bailouts, Madoff taking off with people's retirement funds. Most recently however, we've seen the stock market crash and the housing market bubble burst, which has fundamentally changed the socio-economic landscape of our nation.
For too long there has been corruption and greed in our country. The population of those affected has now reached and surfaced to the middle class. It would appear as if Martin Niemoeller's quote, "The Failure to Speak Up Against the Nazis," rings true even in our day:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out -- Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out -- Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out -- Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me -- and there was no one left to speak for me.
Human nature has the tendency to only react to a situation when its effects are experienced on a personal level. We need to stay together!