Thursday, November 24, 2011


I did get home — home to my house, and then home to my parents' house, and then off to my aunt and uncle's for a fantastic Thanksgiving with the extended family around. Thanks, those of you who expressed concern or support, and for those of you who kept me entertained by phone on my drive home.

I have a Thanksgiving tradition of scanning the radio on my drive, looking for "Alice's Restaurant." I don't catch it every year, but I catch it many years, and I caught it this year — the tail end, at least. There was something magical about the whole idea of it when I was an idealistic post-Vietnam Cold-War-Era 15-year-old, and there still is something magical about the whole idea of it now that I am an idealistic post-Cold-War Occupy-Era 40-year-old.

There was an interview with Arlo Guthrie after "Alice's Restaurant," and he talked a little bit about stopping by Occupy Wall Street a little while back. He talked about how many folks, like himself and Pete Seeger, who'd been so active in the 60s, were glad to lend support to a movement that didn't really need their support — a young person's movement with proud old people around it. He sounded proud, more than anything.

And then at Thanksgiving dinner, one of my relatives called Occupy Wall Street "a waste of time." I was surprised, and said so, later. "Well, isn't it?" asked another relative.

And here's the thing: No, I don't think so. I think real changes will happen. I do. And furthermore, I think if the only thing that changes is the narrative, which had been saying that the left wing was complacent while the right wing was riled up, that had been saying that who people in power needed to pander to were the only rabble-rousers they could hear, who were in the Tea Party — even if the only thing that changes is that people know there are folks on the left who are tired of the status quo — I don't think that's a waste of time. I think it's amazing.

I double don't think it's a waste of time for the folks who are already part of that 20% youth unemployment rate. What would be a better use of their time? And no, it's not a perfect movement. What is?

Day 24 of my month of gratitude: I am thankful for people who are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore, for folks like Arlo and his dad, for folks who have ideas and are ready to change the discourse.

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