SR editorial: The alarm has sounded. Are progressives listening?

Wall Street protests. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

It’s easy to think that in a country as massive as the United States, individuals are alone and isolated from doing anything to really alter the course of the current state of affairs, here or abroad. The momentum for the progressive movement feels almost nonexistent.

That is until you look beyond our own city on a hill to realize that the world today is actually alive with progressive social movements  — it’s just a matter of having the right set of circumstances and group of people willing to sustain them. When does enough become enough?

No one expected the masses (helped by technology) in Egypt, Syria and Palestine to create non-violent social movements that would turn their own countries and the world upside down.

And while it’s true that the outcomes are still unknown in those countries. What is known is that when people unite behind each other, and support one another’s collective will to say enough is enough, big things can happen.

Why not dream big?

When you look at the current Occupy Wall Street actions that are taking place, it’s almost as if progressives are collectively holding there breath, hoping something more will happen. Will it amount to anything? What possibly could come of a small group of people waving banners and chanting, “No justice! No peace!” Well, not a lot. Unless that group swells, and enough are willing to carry on.

That’s what is happening in New York currently where thousands of people are simply not leaving Wall Street. From faraway Portland, a city that once knew a thing or two about non-violent direct action, it feels like the protests aren’t so much a response from Wall Street directly, but a distress call to the rest of the country to respond.

The real question then isn’t what the Wall Street protests mean, or how effective they will be in changing Wall Street, it is are we listening, and more importantly, are we willing to stand up and say enough is enough.

Other cities and countries have seen a spark — London, Paris and Madison. Nothing has stuck. As of press time, there are scores of cities around the country, including Portland, holding actions in solidarity.

Now, we know what you’re thinking. Another protest, really? Won’t it just be the  a bunch of poverty groups like Street Roots, and other predictable protesters? Maybe it will and it will go nowhere. We hope that it would be more.

From the photos and videos we’ve all seen in New York, it sure doesn’t look like just the typical riffraff out making a statement. It looks like common everyday folk — the same kind of folk that packed Waterfront Park to see Barack Obama speak three-plus years ago. The protests in New York look like the same people in Portland that are forced to choose between child care, bus transportation and being able to look for a job. The same people who have been on the unemployment lines for months, if not years, and have to choose between the water bill and not having a place to live.

It’s high time we stood up and made a statement as progressives. Now is as good a time as any, and if we think things are bad now, wait and see what happens if we do nothing. Join in and make your voice heard in Waterfront Park, Oct. 6 at noon.

One response to “SR editorial: The alarm has sounded. Are progressives listening?

  1. Thank you, Street Roots. How anyone can witness the outsized influence of the tea party in this country, yet still claim that demonstrations don’t accomplish anything is beyond me.

    If the people of Cairo and Damascus can find the courage to march, it ought to be possible for Portlanders to find their voices too.

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