The Heart of the Movement
The driving forces behind any movement are sometimes seen as external forces that push and pull on them using a variety of methods. We view things like say the money funding a movement (if there is much) to be the driving force behind specific movements. At other times we get sidetracked into believing various elements vying to be the faces of the movements are what keep them going. Outside influences seeking to tap into and take credit for the gains and messages of movements are often mistakenly given credit for being the forces behind or inspirations for these movements. None of these are the true soul of a movement.
The deepest part of any movement is the many people that comprise it. The multitude of the believers propelling it forward by giving of themselves for nothing more than to see a cause they believe in furthered are what lay at the core of any movement. They spread the message and spirit of the movement not because they want to gain anything for themselves. On the contrary, they push for change because they believe in the ideals of the cause.
People like this brought us the civil rights marches of the nineteen sixties and seventies that changed our nation from one openly divided along racial lines to one working to tear down the gap between the races and heal age old wounds. Sure there were the faces out front, but the majority of marchers were never known. They were anonymous faces and bodies that stepped bravely into situations that could have caused them to have been arrested, sprayed with fire hoses or worse.
Yet, without asking for money, publicity or any form of acknowledgement they marched. Without asking for a way to turn their efforts into something they could benefit from in any way personally they strove forward because in their hearts they believed they were doing what was right for the nation. They never stopped fighting for what they believed in.
For years they marched and even after Dr Martin Luther King Jr passed they kept fighting. As a result they changed our nation. Racial equality was not completely reached, but racial minorities made giant leaps forward as did our great nation and though there were great leaders and planners the people marching, lobbying, writing letters, registering people to vote and more sacrificed with not so much thoughts for themselves, but for the greater good of the nation at that moment and future generations to come in ways they could never have imagined.
In that very same way people marched for women's rights and still fight for gender equality today. In the streets and legislative halls of many of the very same places civil rights struggles of the past were fought, the battle for immigration reform is waged today. As with the battles of the past, most of the people fighting these battles today do so for a greater cause. They don't seek fame, fortune or money from the movement or their participation in it. They fight for a better more sensible America for us all.
Though we are most familiar with the faces of those movements it is the people that make up the bulk of the marches, protests, pickets, etc. It is the legion of followers marching and showing their undying support that motivate others to tune in to the message. It is the mass of people together moving as one that inspire others to become involved. It is the collective spirit that moves those looking in from outside, and those are the people that, no matter which faces in the forefront come or go, keep it moving. They are the faithful, ready to keep things going forward through positive action.
We have seen this same spirit in the Occupy movement. It has inspired people the world over to become cognizant of how we are taken advantage of by large corporations and to work hard sacrificing of themselves and they have no plans to halt nor should they. They have taken the movement beyond political borders and even national boundaries as the issues thy champion affect us all.
When police in Oakland attacked peaceful protesters with teargas and rubber bullets they stayed true to their cause. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/oct/28/scott-ols...) They stayed peaceful and though they could have lost their cool and reacted they refused to stoop to the same level as those attacking them. They kept to their beliefs and pushed for peaceful change. When interlopers crashed the protests causing violence and threatening to derail all the gains people actually involved on the movement had worked for, they condemned the violent outsiders. (http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2011-11-03/occupy-oakland/5105...) They stayed true to their mission and kept working towards positive changes with regards to the relationship between corporate America and our government and it's undue influence over our political system.
When police assaulted Occupy protesters in New York they could have reacted and become violent, but they didn't. (http://occupycolleges.org/2011/10/06/the-whole-world-is-watching-police-...) Instead they kept pushing using their will day by day never letting up, never stopping. It was not so much the leaders as the indomitable spirit of the collective mass of Occupy protesters that overcame the NYC Police brutality and provided the energy to push the movement on.
When generators were taken away from the protesters in New York threatening to freeze them out they pushed on finding ways to warm themselves. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfc2Z4-gWsI) Even through a “fluke” snowstorm hit the protesters camping out, just days after authorities took away Occupy generators, threatening physical harm to the protesters from exposure to the elements and worse just days after police in Oakland had harmed protesters, the mass of people endured it and displayed their readiness to push on.
Just like people involved in the many great social movements that have preceded the current Occupy movement, the collective spirit through numbers together and globally is what is most important to achieving longevity and courage feeding the fires of faith and steadfastness in the face of violence and more. Like the movements of Mahatma Gandhi, of worker's unions in America starting in the 1930's and of the freedom riders ERA and anti-war protesters of the 1960's and 70's Occupy protesters inspire more and more people everyday to join the throngs of people taking to the streets.
This is one of the great movements of our time and is important to providing a brighter future for not just the marchers, but for the vast majority of us all – not just a wealthy few. For as they have pointed out, if making corporations wealthier and more successful spreads to us all, then when the financial booms that have followed the taxpayer funded stimulus efforts happened we all would have benefitted. Instead we keep losing ground one way or another. The 99% of us have been hit hard while massive corporations have been rolling around in champagne bubble bathes on our dime. Who made that possible? Thank god for those fighters in the street and their collective faith in America.
To read about my inspiration for this article go to www.lawsuitagainstuconn.com.