The Heart Of The Nation Is Out On The Street
By James Donahue
A recent story by J. A. Myerson for Truthout described a system of social cooperation among the participants of the
Occupy Wall Street movement occurring in downtown New York.
With thousands of people gathered for weeks and perhaps months of public demonstrations in protest of the greed and
corruption shown by big banks, home lending and insurance institutions, and elected government officials that has left so
many Americans jobless, homeless and lacking access to food, clothing and medical care, we might think there would be chaos
in that crowd.
Not so, reports Myerson.
Liberty Plaza Park, a one-block-long strip Myerson describes as “sandwiched between Wall Street proper and the
World Trade Center, has become a place of free services “where no one pays for anything.”
Because of generous donations from all over, a free kitchen in the heart of the park is feeding thousands daily. There
also is a medical tent which, in spite of efforts by police to shut it down, is providing free services to those in need.
What has evolved in the midst of Occupy Wall Street is a robust welfare state that is providing equal access to free
social services, Myerson wrote. Volunteers are working around the clock to provide free services and hand out truckloads of
donated goods that have been rolling in from all over.
As one voice in the crowd put it: “Free cigarettes? Free warm clothes? Free legal services? It should be like
What a contrast we find between the protesters gathered in the New York Occupy Wall Street crowd (and perhaps many
others across the nation) and the power and money hungry manipulators of the nation’s money who have created conditions
leading to this public form of revolt.
Some politicians and even the talking heads on radio and television have pegged the protesters as “hippies,”
a reference to the free spirited movement that swept the nation in the 1960s. In their eyes, and perhaps in the memories of
the general public, the very word “hippie” strikes a general note of non-acceptance by a society that remembers
a rebellious group of young people practicing free love, drugs and communal living.
While the young people gathering in cities across the nation are not anything like the hippies of that earlier era,
the fact is that they are quickly learning a form of communal living is remarkably similar. There is another underground group
of American rebels known as the Rainbow People that lives in tents in the forest, raids dumpsters, sells trinkets for food,
and travels with the seasons This group also has learned that communal living as a form of survival and freedom from the social
pressures of the nation’s harsh religious/capitalist system.
What the power figures on Wall Street and in the upper echelons of our banks, insurance companies, medical providers,
oil and gas companies and other big business interests are doing is building a wall between themselves and the struggling
“middle class” and poverty stricken. These are the people now referring to themselves as the 99 percent. Unfortunately,
the majority of Americans are among the 99 percent.
I was a working reporter in Kalamazoo, Michigan, during the height of the hippie movement and when the great Woodstock
music festival occurred. At the time my wife and I were attending church and I was employed as a music and religion writer
for the Kalamazoo Gazette. Because of my position I was invited to serve on a Christian-oriented committee that operated a
coffee shop designed to “witness” the Christian faith to the “wayward” hippies that might be tempted
to wander in.
I met a lot of practicing hippies. Instead of judging them as “sinners” and undesirable members of society,
I discovered I liked their rebellious spirit and their deep concern for the Mother Earth. Instead of winning them to Jesus,
they helped win me away from the binds of the society in which I was then locked.
I was a working reporter at Springerville, Arizona, in 1998 when the Rainbow organization held its summer gathering
in the forested hills nearby. I was there to report the police and community concerns about “controlling” such
a gathering of thousands of young “hippie-type” rebels, and going among the Rainbow people and getting their story.
I discovered that I loved the spirit of the Rainbow people as much as I did the free spirit of the hippie movement.
I am retired now and lacking the resources to physically join the Occupy Wall Street movement going on in the nation,
although readers of my daily stories must know that I am with them in spirit. And I am sure, from what Myerson and other writers
are saying, that I would really like the spirit of the protesters on those streets.
I liked them all because there was a shared spirit of love and unity among these groups. The participants referred
to one another as “brothers and sisters” and they seemed willing to share everything they had with one another.
There was a spirit of common ownership. Among the hippies, even the task of caring for the children was shared. That seemed
natural since the group practiced free love and it may have been difficult to determine just who fathered which child in the
group. That practice, of course, met with extreme condemnation by the Christian church.
From where I have stood over the years, it appears that there has been a carefully designed propaganda campaign that
has depicted the hippies, the Rainbow and now the Occupy Wall Street protesters as undesirable rebels. It appears to be a
concerted effort by the power figures to paint them all in the same bad light.
It is obvious why they would want to do this with the Occupy Wall Street crowd. But why would there have been such
severe attacks against the hippies and Rainbow? We believe the answer lies in the fact that all three groups are discovering
and demonstrating to the nation that there is a desperate need to switch from the old capitalistic system, that currently
serves only the few in control, to a socialist system designed to give everyone a more even share of the world’s dwindling
Notice all of the propaganda we have heard against efforts by the Democratic Party to introduce a government financed
medical system that assures fair treatment for everybody. The argument by Republicans is that the Democrats are promoting
socialism. They treat socialism as something evil that has no place in the American system. Yet this is not true. The Social
Security and Medicare systems for the elderly are socialist programs that work very well.
Socialism is not Communism. Communism is a more radical form of socialism where the state owns everything and everybody.
If handled correctly, the wealth is supposedly doled evenly among workers. Most other advanced nations of the world are employing
either socialism or communism to provide for the people.
Now that the population of the world has hit seven billion and there is a growing struggle among nations for an equal
share of the dwindling natural resources, there is an understanding among many that the era of capitalism must end. A socialist
system, perhaps in a world-wide scale, appears to be a better way of dealing with this growing crisis.
To make it all work, however, people must learn to become like the hippies, Rainbow and Occupy crowds and agree to
share all that they have. The secret to making this work well is simple. It is the four-letter word: LOVE.