Across America, thousands of dissatisfied citizens are gathering on main streets in a show of solidarity with the throngs of protesters "Occupy(ing) Wall Street" in New York City. These events have been described as a display of "flash mob" mentality and reminiscent of a recent cereal commercial in which women gather en masse to approve the breakfast product. While these protests have been mostly relegated to large metropolitan areas, they are now quickly spreading to smaller towns and villages.
In Ashland, Kentucky, seventy-five people attended a pre-occupation "convention" on Saturday at their Central Park. Their goal is to stage a protest in one of the more heavily-trafficked areas of town on October 15. As they gather on that morning, there will certainly be many sympethizers joining the protesters. This will strengthen their numbers and ensure a lot of publicity in area newspapers.
But, while the protests are gaining in momentum, there still appears to be no general "theme" to them. Some participants are unemployed, others seeking preservation of their social security, facing foreclosure or demanding equal rights. Certainly, if you were to ask a sampling of protesters to describe the specific theme of their protests, you would get a laundry list of answers.
Still, there is one overall theme that is undeniable:
Whether in New York City or Ashland, Kentucky, these protesters are telling the government that they are tired of the country's richest executives (known throughout the occupation throngs as the "one percent") controlling forty percent of the nation's wealth and influencing the government in decisions and perks. They want Washington to give working-class citizens (known as the "ninety-nine percent") just as much of a voice as the rich -- and treated with the same seriousness and speed.
The greater question, and one now being asked by even the participants themselves, is "How effective will these protests be? Will they be successful in giving the 'ninety-nine percent' the voice it needs?"
Sadly, the answer is "probably not" -- unless the protesters do more than just congregate on city streets with their placards, chants and yells. They need to go beyond the protest and become "activists" for their cause.
They would do well to learn from the famed Sixties generation, when activists abounded. To push their causes (peace and equality), they would go in front of TV cameras, write impassioned magazine articles, stage sit-ins and barrage The White House and Congressmen with thousands of letters. Most importantly, they repeated these interminably until, finally, concessions were made.
So while "equality" is a noble cause, it will seem more like simple rhetoric unless this "Occupation" reaches beyond the streets and is spread via the media. Today, with the internet and various styles of cell phones, the activist will have a greater opportunity to see this all come to fruition.