Not yet a month old, and already the Occupy movement in Delaware is in mortal danger. I don’t know if it is indicative of how the movement is progressing in other cities and states, but I hope not. Allow me to explain…
Occupy is a youth movement. As such it is learning a lot of lessons that other protest movements have learned in the past (leadership, legal advice, logistics, public relations, etc.). There is no shortcut to learning these lessons. In fact, I envy them for the fun that will have learning the lessons.
But there are a number of people from past movements that are looking to “help” these kids. These are people from Woodstock Nation, the civil rights marches and countless ill-fated progressive Presidential campaigns. These people mean well, but they must know their place. And I don’t mean that in a derogatory way, I mean that their time has passed from the perspective of their movements.
The Yippies of the 60’s had a rule of thumb to never trust anyone over 30. This should be gospel. In all fairness, I am 41, so take it with a grain of salt. But here are reasons why this is true. We are never going to spend weeks voluntarily sleeping in a park. We are comfortable living our lives of quiet desperation, driving our new-ish cars, sleeping in our comfortable beds and taking our vacations at the beach. We are easily intimidated.
The young people that are leading this movement are more capable of speaking truth to power than those of us that have celebrated a 30th birthday. We oldsters have reached the point that we have a lot invested in the status quo, whether we want to admit it or not.
Delaware has a number of these helpful oldsters that want to grind the same old axes that they have been grinding for decades. One of them has even been on several radio stations in the past week presenting their “demands”. I haven’t heard the demands, but I’ll gander a few guesses about what they are, Implementing Floyd McDowell’s single payer plan, satellite news access for everyone and the freeing of all Palestinian prisoners. I’m sure she has others, but I really can’t stand to listen to her spout off any more, and neither can anyone else.
So to the young people of Occupy Delaware, please don’t listen to us. We are happy to help in any way we can (supplies, cash, and covering the park after work so you can find a bathroom). But thank us for our support and send us on our way. This is YOUR movement. Own it and ride it as far as it will take you. It will be one of the greatest times of your life.
And to the old people that want to get back to the glory days of your youth: respect these young protesters and their ideas. Let them go on the radio and explain their positions. Let them organize in THEIR way. Let them write their own demands. Marvel at their energy, youthful idealism and freedom. Give them what they need. Then shut the hell up.
Otherwise, we will end up with the same old people, saying the same old things, to the same disinterested public. And Delaware will end up with another statistic in our infant mortality rate when we kill our own children just as they are starting to thrive.