The Occupy movements, which began in New York’s Zuccotti Park near Wall Street, garnered massive media attention, both positive and negative. People in the U.S. and around the world, specifically the younger generations, have become dissatisfied with the fiscal inequality that exists and the political horseplay that has plagued Congress.
At the same time, other Americans believe that the protestors feel entitled to rights and opportunities that they have not earned, and should merely work hard if they wish to improve their status. Regardless of one’s opinion of the movement, the eviction of the Occupy Wall Street protestors and the dwindling media attention for the movement has made it clear that a new phase of protest must begin if change is to be enacted in any appreciable way.
The movement still remains without definitive leadership or any figure head, and its demands still are ambiguous. Certainly there is much to be desired from Occupy’s results, but I believe the grassroots movement that it has developed can be parlayed into something meaningful. Say the movement sought to focus on one single problem, campaign finance, for example, an issue that many have pointed out as a fundamental problem in modern politics. With the distaste for the current election system – long election cycles, billions of dollars spent in hateful attack ads that help no one but those seeking election – a grassroots base like that of Occupy could help create change if it were to establish leadership and develop a media campaign.
However, perhaps there is a deeper lesson to be learned from the protests and subsequent social conversation that the movement started. The public’s opinion is not so black-and-white, suggesting that both sides have merit. In our increasingly globalized and transparent world, governments around the world will likely not be able to get away with their recent actions that suppress many of their citizens. At the same time, with more developing nations around the world, hundreds of millions will have access to resources and the modern lifestyle that they have been denied.
Our world is finite, meaning that the lifestyle many are used to may have to be altered to accommodate the rise in quality of life for millions. We must find happiness in more than the opulent, and make do with less.
Paul Levy is a freshman majoring in physics.