Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pearl 39: If You Want to Be Understood, Make Your Message Clear

Dearest Eliana, Gehrig and Ruby,

Good afternoon, my sweet ones.  I was just sitting here thinking about the last time Granny and I visited New Jersey and we went up to New York City to see the 9/11 Memorial.  Who knew you needed advanced, online reservations to get in.  Oh well, next time I guess.

We spent most of our time sitting in that little downtown park watching all the protestors pitch their signs and rail at the wind.  There were many there that day, along with what seemed like a whole battalion of police officers, with as many causes being championed as there were cops.  The biggest contingent, however, were the people associated with “Occupy Wall Street” and we just happened to be there in September at the beginning of that movement.  Over the past two month, it has spread across the country with more and more people joining the protest.

My only problem is I really have no idea what they want.  It was unclear to me as we sat at the fringe of their protest in Zuccotti Park and it is equally unclear to me now, even though their following has made the national news and they have expanded their platform into many communities nationwide.

Now you have to remember, Granny and I are no strangers to protest movements.  Back in the day we supported our share of causes.  We grew up and cut our teeth listening to Mark Rudd, John Jacobs and the Students for a Democratic Society, the SDS, protest the Vietnam War on campuses all over the U.S.  We gave a sympathetic ear to Delores Huerta and the United Farm Workers protesting for better working conditions for migrant workers.  We even gave up eating grapes for a while because Cesar Chavez told us to. 

We watched on TV as protestors followed the non-violent, charismatic Martin Luther King, Jr. and more violent Huey Newton and Bobby Seale leading the more radical Black Panthers to seek an end to segregation and equal rights for all Americans, regardless of race, color or creed.  Seems there was something in our Constitution and Bill of Rights about all that but, somehow, we as a nation were not quite onboard yet in the 1960’s.

In each of these protests, the message of the protestors was clear, concise and easy to understand.  The shouted chants at their rallies which put fine points on their mission….”What Do We Want?”  “PEACE!”  “When Do We Want It?”  “NOW!”.  Which kind of brings me to my next pearl:

Thirty-Ninth Pearl:  “If You Want To Be Understood, Make Your Message Clear”

What is the objective of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement?  At this point, if they even had a chant it would be something like:  “What Do We Want?”  “WE DON’T KNOW!”  “When do we want it?”  “NOW!”   I have discerned from some interviews with members of this movement (there are no leaders) that, whatever their plight, the establishment is to blame.  The “establishment” being every group from “fat-cat Wall Street moguls” to “greedy bankers” to a “do nothing Congress”, oh, and, of course, George W. Bush, who seems to be responsible for every bad thing that has happened in the last 100 years or so.  But, I digress.

If you drill down it almost seems like their slogan should be “Occupy Wall Street – Everything for Everybody” as that is the only message coming through.  It seems these people believe they are entitled to everything; a good paying job, a house, a car, healthcare, freedom, peace, protection, and prosperity.  Gosh, you say, doesn’t everyone want these things?  Yes, I suppose they do.  And we live in one of the few countries in the world where all of these things are available and attainable. Our democratic and capitalistic structure as a nation has established a system for success   However, what these protestors don’t quite get is there is a price to pay.  You have to work for them!  You can demand what you like, but you should not expect anything beyond basic human needs, which any caring nation is willing to provide, without significant effort of your own.  No one, with the possible exception of NFL players and some other sports professionals, should feel entitled to a share of the profits without putting any capital at risk. Nothing is truly free.

Unlike many of the protest movements of the past, “Occupy Wall Street” will fade into oblivion without ever accomplishing anything, in my opinion, because there are no clearly defined objectives for the movement and no clear message to attract and encourage supporters. It is a goalless and aimless distraction to the real problems that need addressing in our country today and my prediction is it will fail.

So, little ones, in the future if you decide to promote or even initiate a movement to accomplish meaningful change and need supporters to follow you, make certain your goals are set and your message is clear.  Let that “Occupy Your Mind”.

I love you, bunches and bunches.

Grandpa Jud

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