I have a message for those participating in the Occupy movement and those that have invested some hope in it: you cannot do this alone. Whatever it is you want to achieve – and in truth your movement includes many people with many motives and many ideas – you cannot achieve it alone. The difficult, perhaps cynical truth is that the thousands or millions of Occupiers you assemble in city centers around the country will not be the ones who make real change happen. Not alone.
You will never accomplish anything unless you have the ability to work with people unlike yourself. You will need friends and partners. You will need politicians who represent you, writers who will express your message, businesspeople who will respect you and most of all, regular citizens. You may accomplish something noteworthy if you successfully spark a democratic engagement between citizens – but only if this engagement goes beyond the tent communities in America’s financial districts.
At Occupy Boston on Saturday night, October 22, Noam Chomsky whispered out over a reverent crowd, who sat or stood with ears perked and eyes squinting. He told his audience that changemakers go out into the country, interact with people and work to understand them. I hope the Occupiers in Boston and beyond heard his message. If not, they will remain a fringe movement that serves only as an outlet for the frustrations of an imperfect society.
Let’s share a quick reality check: every society in the past, present and future of mankind was, is and will be imperfect. Americans should be grateful that they have the power to improve their society. Furthermore, they should embrace this freedom as a grave mandate to exercise their civic responsibility: the responsibility to understand their own country and then influence it positively.
Occupiers, I hope that instead of self-inflicted marginalization you choose a future of progressive action, by using your energy to understand, educate and thoughtfully reform. Your purpose should be to challenge and improve the status quo, not to destroy it. You cannot destroy the current financial system, nor should you. You cannot destroy the current political system, nor should you. But you may become a force for good if you carefully wield the power of your voice, your vote and your patriotic compassion.