You ARE the 99 percent.

Over the past few weeks, I have spent as much free time as possible at Liberty Square, even sleeping on the pavement there. As you may know, thousands of activists have been gathering at Zuccotti Park (Liberty Plaza) in lower Manhattan about two blocks from Wall Street. However, unless you have been there, you many have a very misguided understanding of what is going on there. With thousands of people gathering in lower Manhattan for over two weeks, many of them camped out in the park for the duration, partaking in two or more marches per day, and with similar movements now popping up all over the nation and abroad, you might think there would be sufficient coverage of the events in the mainstream media. You would be wrong. Instead, reporters and cameras come in and out all day, most with a preconceived notion of what their story will be and proceed to film, edit, and add their monologue to push their own agenda. Allow me to offer you SOME of the real story.

A group of activists has occupied Liberty Plaza next to Wall Street to express our mutual disdain of the current state of affairs. While there are many reasons and personal stories that reflect the discontent, a common thread is we feel disenfranchised because of the institutionalized power and wealth in huge corporations and banks. Less than one percent of the population reaps the benefits of this power and wealth on a grand scale. They control our political and economic landscape. We want freedom for all people. We believe that as long as the abundance of wealth and power remain accumulated in less than one percent of the population, and in these large, undemocratic institutions, genuine freedom for all is impossible. Everyone has an interest in returning the power of self-determination to the people; well 99 percent of us do.

The movement is large and growing rapidly. Many people have been staying at Liberty Plaza night after night. Some have mattresses, air mattresses, sleeping bags, blankets, or tarps to sleep on. Beyond those living in the park, thousands of people pass through every day: some campaign with us for a couple of hours, some march with us, some just walk around and observe. The questions that everyone asks are the same: “why are you here?”, “what’s the point?”, “what’s the end game?”, and “what are your demands?”

This movement is much more complicated than those simple, sound-bite questions. The questions AND the answers are much deeper and complicated than that. While everyone gathers to show their contempt for corporate greed and its power over our political system, there is not one unified message as of now as to what should happen, and there doesn’t need to be. There is a full spectrum of participants here and the opinions regarding problems and, even more so solutions, vary. However, people should recognize that in many ways ONE end result has already been accomplished. We are here. We are living change. It’s organic and at times sloppy, but it is real. We are raising awareness and showing people that you can take control over your own life. You can meet people and talk to them. You can organize your own political discourse and democratic experience. The movement holds one or two General Assemblies every day. We organize them without hierarchical leadership and with true democratic principles. Everyone really does have a voice. This is a major accomplishment in and of itself. As for the external impact we will have? Give us time. The movement is spreading. Occupiers are popping up everywhere. We will let the people decide. After all, we have 99 percent of the population’s needs to consider.

So in response to all these questions, I ask you this: “Are you living to your fullest potential?” For most of us, the answer is no.

If you believe we need to end corporate personhood (and/or); we need to end corporate lobbying and political representation (and/or); we need equal political representation, open sources, and transparency in government and policy (and/or); we need to stop environmental degradation and exploitation and hold violators accountable for their destruction (and/or); we need diverse political representation, not just two very similar choices (and/or); every gender, race, religion, and people deserve respect and equality; (and/or)….

then you are the 99 percent.

If not now, when?