stickyimage

What Silence Means Now

Unknownby Christopher Theodore 

I wrote this statement in response to someone opposed to the protests on Wall Street because of his faith that those on Wall Street were in fact actually working harder than others, and thus entitled to more.  “Thank you for your post. Although I admire your faith in the system, the truth is, according even to those at the top of Wall Street, that the system is totally broken. It has reached its mathematical limits. The derivatives game, short selling, currency manipulation– this isn’t capitalism as most of us know it– it is larceny disguised through purposefully complex jargon, but in the end it’s plain old larceny that is so beyond the morality of most Americans as to make the actual conduct incomprehensible. The system is broken. Why Occupy Wall Street is so important for all is because the system has broken precisely because of Wall Street’s belief that the people’s apathy and ignorance is so deep– that not only is conduct that is not for the good of all met with impunity, but that we will pay for it through taxpayer-funded bailouts, which is what has happened.”

Well, for all of you that may not agree with me, I hope that you at least respect my refusal to be silent in the face of something I believe must be said. I understand that there are different views on what’s happening in New York and across the US with respect to the Occupy Movement. We will always have differing opinions. What is not guaranteed is that we will always have freedom.

Occupy Wall Street, October 2011

It means that there is a fight going on right now for the real meaning of our rights.

We all gain by ditching the labels that we’re continually baited to use when looking at each other and talking with each other.  Martin Luther King Jr. used to tell the story of “Old Pharaoh” who used a trick to keep the Israelites as slaves– which was to keep them divided and bickering with one another. We need to consider what it means to all of us as well as the world our children will live in, when today the police in cities all over the US are using brutal, violent force against citizens of the United States.

What has really turned me into feeling even more strongly in support of the Occupy Movement is the level of violence directed against fellow Americans. An example of this is the Iraq War veteran, Scott Olsen, a “Veteran for Peace”, who was protesting in Oakland who is now in critical condition after being shot by a non-lethal bullet and beaten by police.

In fact, we cannot afford to accept the level of police brutality that is being used to intimidate and thwart a sacred right that every American has– and that is the right to assemble, and to march, and to speak out against systems and institutions they believe are no longer working for them. In fact, if you do not do something to make your voice heard in support of those people who are being brutalized, you need to understand what your silence means.

2conv0698b

We tend to think that our rights are naturally protected by written out documents like the Constitution, or institutions like the Department of Justice, or people like the President of the United States. That idea– that we are simply protected by these documents, these institutions and people– is complete and total bunk. It is an illusion for the lazy amongst us. The truth is that all rights depend on personal courage. All documents that were written in the hope that they would help secure liberty have always been and will always be interpreted by people just like you and me. How people interpret what our rights are, how the Department of Justice operates, how the President of the United States performs– is almost entirely dependent upon the conduct and values of individuals like you and me.

The true protectors of the freedoms of the people are the people. 

In this sense then, the life and breath and existence of our rights are not secured by this “stuff” meant to be an aid in our security  and freedom. Our freedom depends on us. So what does it mean when right now there are all over the US many places in which the police are arresting Americans like you and I who are exercising nothing more than their Constitutional right to assemble? It means that there is a fight going on right now for the real meaning of our rights. And for every person who remains silent or does nothing– there is that much less freedom for each one of us. There is a fight going on right now for how much power people have and how much power “government” has.

police-brutality1-282x300

The fact that so much police brutality in the US has been captured on video over the last 30 days is absolute, irrefutable proof that people like you and I are not speaking up enough. It is when the  police are afraid of the eventual condemnation by the public and once the power structure changes that they will respect the sacred rights of citizens to assemble, to march, and to speak wherever they feel like it. If you and I are silent, we are in fact collaborators with the police– we are no better– in fact we are worse because we are supposed to be the designers of our society– the true protectors of the freedoms of the people are the people. So I salute right here and now every journalist, every marcher, every policeman who has truly acted not in support of the “government”– but in support of the people.

3 years ago by in Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the | RSS feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
  • RichardH

    This is such an important article. I wish more media was as pure about reporting what the Occupy movement really stands for — being in support of the people!!!

  • Clark2sun

    During the Vietnam War, protesters made a difference because they were in solidarity. The Occupy movement needs a unifying stance and the 99% idea just isn’t a strong enough campaign. I do get it, but it means too many different things to too many people. 

  • Jeff

    right on!

  • Hellen

    For Chris Theodore: you have created an amazing magazine and I am so happy to see it grow. 
    You and your team should be very proud and there are a great many people in this community who look to you to give it to us straight, the truth and stuff that we need to pay attention to. I am a fan of your publication and also a supporter of all the businesses that advertise because I know they make it possible for you to send this to me and many others for free. 

  • Mrphiefer1953

    excellent essay Mr. Theodore, well done

  • Justin

    I wish more people and maybe even some “occupiers” understood the movement in this light— there does need to be greater solidarity because solidarity is power and power effects change

  • JensenK

    you are a great writer

  • JonGeller

    excellent article, thank you 

  • BRTmission

    Thank you for helping me to better understand the occupy movement. You’ve really got something here. 

  • quihote

    I don’t know if the occupiers are protecting freedom. I see it like this: they are unhappy and don’t know what to do about it. I feel like they also represent me because it doesn’t seem to matter who I vote into office, policies are only made in the best interest of large companies and government institutions and I help pay for it ! I’m getting tired of paying for stuff I don’t believe in 

  • CarlBancroft

    I have to say that I initially didn’t think I’d like what you’d have to say or the message of this article but after reading it, i get the protesting more and especially the place where it stems from or what it really represents and it is sad that we allowed the mainstream media, aka the puppets of the corporations, to make up so much of our minds by creating a sense of what the “general public” thinks … I still don’t completely agree with the occupiers but I agree with what this movement represents 

  • Brendt

    makes you think… I don’t think all the occupiers are on the same page though but that’s just my opinion…

  • Anna-May

    ok so this article shows the best of what the movement represents but not all the people in the movement are the best representatives — there do need to be better representatives and then it will be taken in a better way by the people who are not participating, like me

  • Brynn24

    I like this statement:  The truth is that all rights depend on personal courage.

  • Trevor

    i support the people, my country and what it stands for — which is standing up against a government and system that no longer works 

  • Henry

    there are too many voices in my opinion ; I’m not saying that there should be one leader but there should be a published plan that we can choose to support or not ; but there isn’t even a plan , or not one that I have seen 

  • Lora_Kramer

    hmmm .. makes you think… you may have very well shifted my opinion… by the way , the shift $20 from big box to locally owned biz in the Reader mag every even month and all others on odd months is finally an idea that doesn’t ask me to find extra money to “support” small businesses… here’s to hoping all the good you do for our community will come back to you. 

  • Bryan

    This is very well said … I will be sharing your article 

  • Genfjhz

    This reminds me of the 1986 People Power Revolution in the Philippines wherein the people came out into the streets to oust the dictator. Rosaries and flowers against the high-powered weapons of the armies.  The people won their freedom peacefully this time.