Please note: This is an observation of today’s event and no endorsement, for or against, the intent of the protestors is intended, nor should one be assumed. I do not have enough information to form an opinion on their grievance or proposed solution.
I was enjoying my Cuban sandwich under a cloudy wonderful Orlando afternoon with just enough sprinkles to keep the heat under control when out of nowhere a group of protestors showed up to express their opinion about the economy. As with any form of public dissention, the ones expressing their discontent are usually the ones with the most to gain from the event. For most people, expressing, especially public expressions of disappointment, is alien to them, something best left for others to do.
The ones chanting and pleading for change are either vested in the outcome of the plea, have finally had enough and therefore have nothing to lose or, more likely, are serving a paymaster of some type for the day, whether as a guarantee to continue in the good graces of their community or are being directly paid for their participation.
In the case of today’s protest the organization was well prepared and at the same time very unprepared. A protest is about getting the message out. It is about mobilizing a critical mass to one’s side of the argument. That requires a message and a call to action.
Today’s protest did neither. All I know was that they were dressed in red and had professional signage with the logo of the National Nurses United. That’s it. It had no call to action and nowhere to figure out whether I wanted to support them or scorn them. The rhetoric was your typical rhetoric of dissatisfaction and a need for change. But where was the call to action? What was the actual message?
I was handed a sheet of paper with the following on it:
“Everywhere across the land
People are losing their homes
Jobs are scarce and cupboards bare
Quietly struggling alone
Everywhere people stare
Each and every day
Wondering whether help is there
And I hear them say
Hey! It’s time to Make ol’ Wall Street pay
Hey! It’s time to Make ol” Wall Street pay
How can you let children die
From lack of medication?
Hearing them, seeing them
In the state I’m in
Main Street didn’t destroy this land
But billionaires want us to pay
t’s time people stand up and say
Hey! It’s time to make Wall Street pay
Hey! It’s time to make Wall Street pay”
Ok, so I get it, the economy sucks and the favorite whipping boys are being pillared again, the rich and the money managers. So where’s the call to action? What is this group advocating for? What a waste of an organized protest. The paper I was handed didn’t even have a website or contact information for me to get more information about their grievance.
This kind of makes me wonder where Libya or Egypt would be today if their protestors had gathered together to chant “we want”; insert something here, with no follow through. Their protests have led to change, significant change.
It also reminded me about something I had read by Octavio Paz many years ago when he was explaining the difference between Mexico and the United States. Paraphrasing, Paz stated that Mexico is held back by our history and our culture; it’s like an anchor that doesn’t allow us to shed our inhibitions and leap forward into the unknown. America, on the other hand, was born under the notion of always looking forward and challenging the unknown without hampered by historical failures.
After reading that, I began to notice how Americans acted; never backing down and never accepting the status-quo. The world would say, “no you can’t” and America would collectively retort, “yes we will”.
This is best exemplified in the world of soccer, where America is considered the under-dog. But, it’s an under-dog never willing to accept it as each and every time the American team plays it’s with the gusto that today is the day they will teach the world a lesson. Most national teams play for the prestige of playing seemingly satisfied with a finish where FIFA ranks them, rarely if ever, playing to the bitter end regardless of the blood and guts left on the playing field. Not America, it will come back from a three goal deficit just to spite the world.
Unfortunately that doesn’t trickle down to everyday Americans it seems. Oh yes, they are the first to proclaim, I’m an American but are also amply satisfied with mediocre government inaction and self-serving speeches of change to come.
Today’s protest by the National Nurses United once again reinforced to me that America is now the land of “oh well, c’est la vie”. Truly disappointing, as was today’s protest.