“The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there it is.”
~ Winston Churchill ~
On work days Lower Manhattan is a congested pocket where the logistics of endless road construction, major transportation hubs, workers and visitors maximize the hassle factor.
When the Dow closed on Friday, intermittent rain and stifling humidity added to the normal challenges of navigating. The crowds have a characteristic, peak commuter energy, powerful enough to engulf you in an anxious wave of humanity trying to get somewhere faster.
Trekking along Broadway, with flying traffic spraying the sidewalks from water filled potholes, was a good reminder what benefit a live feed has over being mashed in the sweaty crowd to show up. Like so many things in life that we aren't obliged to participate in, there's a challenge to finding the will and way to schedule free time to any purpose beyond unwinding or finding enjoyment.
It's a reality that earns much appreciation for the Occupy Wall Street participants who have been on the ground and in the elements from September 17th. They've stood by day and been rained on at night, to focus the eyes of the world on the fundamental problem of America's broken economic system, that rewards the immortal Corporate persons who have wreaked havoc on the global economy and dumped the debt and disaster in the laps of real people.
There's no way to know if any of the protester actions added to the losses the market suffered. Just as the derivative games disconnected home values from reality for the purpose of generating fee income from paper shuffling, it has been a long time since the market valuations have been rooted in real corporate value.
The basic premise was that by putting our after tax dollars in the hands of titans of industry the returns we could eventually get would be equal to the success these corporate institutions enjoyed as a result of our financial support.
But it hasn't worked that way; the game has been rigged so CEO's who drive their companies to bankruptcy make personal fortunes as their investors and the taxpayers pay for the collapse. It's not hard to understand how wrong that is whether you're looking at a vanished retirement account statement, home foreclosure or outsourced job loss.
What is much more difficult is extracating ourselves from a systemic tapeworm economy that is so well woven into our culture. In some ways that is what stuck with me most at the end of week one for Occupy Wall Street.
If you walk around and talk to the individual participants its easy to see how well informed and passionate a group they are. The spirit of sharing and openness has transformed Liberty Park into a bit a haven for intelligent discussion and hub for engaging similarly outraged citizens of the globe to participate and show support.
Coming from another generation that witnessed protesting that poured masses into the streets and triggered the kind of conflict between law enforcement and youth that gave us tragedies like Kent State.
it is difficult to try to contextualize a virtual commune of ideals ringed by a force of high tech surveillance that are both physically limited and technologically boundless.
It is very much a new age where the whole world is able to watch. We don't need to wait for the newspaper to be delivered or to tune in Walter Cronkite to hear how current events unfolded or shaped the world when someone with a cell phone can stream it live.
Instant access to information and the tools to democratize its distribution are undoubtedly the biggest game changers in the history of individual rights, but it can only go as far as the individuals that participate.
What we lost in the transition from a culture that had limited information sources, to a world wide web, was a measure of social contact and the security of a physical and emotional network around us including the "voices we trust" to report the truth of the world beyond our view.
Walking around Liberty Park and seeing growing numbers of diverse supporters stop by to lend a hand or add words of support or Tweets from those half a world away sending take out for dinner might very well be a turning point in marrying virtual networks with human ones.
Change is a process marked by events and this one may have crossed the Rubicon, where the benefit of individuals' struggle for the rights for the 99% "silent majority" gain their footing and challenge what has been a portal for profits for the 1% that sees a globe of demographics.
The most important part isn't what specific actions flow from this as much as redefining the fabric of our lives as a human collective.