Last night, in the parking lot of a local rec center, I listened to Jake's band play a few songs. They started a program of music, mostly local kids, jamming out. It is the very best of Newton, in my opinion. Neighbors gathering, centered almost always around kids.
Today, I went down to Occupy Boston. This is what I've been encouraging my students to do: Stand up, be counted, be heard. It is a small city inside the city. Logistics center, medical tent, tent for donated clothes, food tent, dishwashing tent... Camp Alex.
I liked his peace sign.
You could make a sign, or pick a sign.
I liked the one about Texas. Corporations are not people.
A few cops were around, standing on the outskirts. Not hundreds of cops, maybe only a dozen, looking relaxed, if not a little bored. No dogs, no rifles, no riot gear- and I'm grateful. Ask the folks in Denver- not every city is tolerant.
There were people speaking. Some listening. Some standing in line to speak. I saw a man in a suit and tie helping himself to a free sandwich. I started to judge him and then realized, that's not the point.
Everyone keeps asking, what do they want? What specific changes? What are the demands? It's not the point, either. This is about protest. It's about people with fear and despair, no longer being willing to sit behind closed doors. Together, they have a dream of creating change.
Maybe the change is within each person, once isolated, now with the power of the group. Maybe the most important piece is creating a new community and a new sense of public commitment to others. Maybe it is everyone leaning out their windows, ala Network, screaming, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!"
So the guy can afford his own sandwich. Everyone is getting fed. In this small community, this tiny strip of green between high rise hotels and upscale businesses, there is enough.
I've watched my kids struggle living in Newton, a community where excess is not unusual. They want things only to be told no as a matter of values, not money. Designer sneakers, clothes, phones, computers, cars... so much stuff. They are kids surrounded by peers- I understand the pressure on them. I also know, as I did last night, sitting on the picnic bench, listening to Jake's awesome bass line, it's not simple.
The occupy movement is not simple. People are coming together in a digital age. Real faces, real voices. It's a physical presence and cannot be ignored. Tarps, signs and a guy brushing his teeth by the side of the road. It is real.
And so is my community gathered around a makeshift stage, listening to music. There is fear and despair, and yet we gather to celebrate our kids. Nothing is guaranteed anymore. People lose jobs, savings, homes in every tier of the economic world. If Patrica Kluge, can lose everything, so can everyone.
This is about taking that fear and turning it into love and hope. It's about a sandwich for the guy in a suit. It's about people taking a microphone and being heard. It's about our environment, our government, our economy. It's about our world.
Mostly? It's about hope.