Staff Editorial: Occupy movement needs more focus

Occupy Los Angeles and Occupy Wall Street have power to bring change but need more focus.

Chimes Staff, Writer

“Arab Spring, American Fall” read headlines throughout numerous publications. There are a few significant differences between the actions of citizens participating in Occupy Los Angeles and those in the Middle East revolting against unfair governments.

Occupy Los Angeles is made up of people asserting their Constitution-granted rights to peaceably assemble. The people have a right to gather in peaceful assembly to fight for improvement. It is noble to invoke this right rather than resort to violence or exhibit “slacktivist” Facebook statuses. It is thrilling to see Americans — especially young people — taking an active stance in politics and society.

Yet, one worry about Occupy Los Angeles and Occupy Wall Street is that they don’t seem to have a focused direction behind their assembly. Their mission is unclear, simply asserting their goals through a single catchy statement: “We are the 99 percent.” On an Oct. 3 update of the Occupy Los Angeles webpage, they stated, “We are occupying Los Angeles City Hall until we are unanimously satisfied that real solutions are underway for a local living economy.” One proposed list of demands on occupywallst.org, demands everything from gender equality to free college to open borders. Another focuses on greed and corporations, but not all agree this should be the entirety of the goals. You can’t effect change with vague stances and catchy slogans alone. Holding an “I hate everything the government does or doesn’t do” protest won’t help anything. There is no authority in large numbers of people marching if they are all marching for different things. To compare this occupation to the revolution in the Middle East minimizes what real revolutions can accomplish.

Arab Spring different than Occupy movement

The Arab Spring was made up of people asserting the right to be treated with basic decency and humanity. Though it is often purported that these revolutions in the Middle East were begun only with a tweet, they were the culmination of years of distress, societal unrest and oppressive government structure. Small movements quickly turned into large-scale affairs that are showing no signs of settling any time soon.

Unlike the Middle East, America does not need to overhaul the way we do government. Sure, we should see some significant changes within the way our current structure is utilized. A momentary uproar will achieve only short-term success.

Now, the average taxpayer tends to be quick to complain and slow to work toward change. Few take the time to educate themselves on matters they deem beyond their influence, even when those issues directly impact them. Even fewer are willing to take the first step to do anything about correcting perceived injustice. The Occupy movement may very well be that first step. People there are impassioned and desire change. How long until their occupation stalemate becomes movement?

The road to a fairer society is paved with hard work. And it is long. As the founding fathers first intimated, freedom only comes married with great responsibility and many citizens fail to fully embrace this reality. The Occupy movement will only be effective if it is used as a springboard for intelligent, committed citizens to invest in seeking change within our society and government — through everyday life and long-term investment.

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