By Taylor Pettit
I was there.
I was there this past weekend among the throngs of Occupy Wall Street protestors yelling slogans at the skyscrapers above, doling out vegan-friendly fare to those who had been there for days and dancing along to the songs of protest.
I went as a reporter, with camera and notebook in hand, and I made it my mission to talk to these people who were so angry they would camp out for weeks in the middle of New York City.
I didn’t just drive 12 hours to see the protests. I’m from a suburb in northern New Jersey and went back to spend fall break with my family.
But when I heard what was going on, I knew I needed to experience it for myself. I had experienced protests in New York City many times before, but this would be the first in years.
If these protests had taken place when I was in high school, I would have been there, demanding justice against corporate greed and showcasing my anger with the mandatory black bandana around my face.
I was a by-the-book anarchist and supported my ideals through solidarity with the punk movement. I wanted to travel across the country and squat instead of supporting the globalization machine. I was more than some crunchy hippie. I believed the changes I made in my life would be revolutionary.
But, as we all do, we grow up and realize that the system is not necessarily evil and in order to make change, you need to do so through constructive and innovative ideals.
As the saying goes, you must work within the system to change the system.
The protests at Zuccotti Park were started by squatters and anarchists, the same people I stood in solidarity with at concerts and poetry slams years ago, but they are doing the same thing they’ve always done: Protesting a philosophical concept, not a law or rule.
They are angry, like we are all angry, at the debt, the war, the lies, the lack of regulation, but most of all, greed.
How do you regulate greed?
You don’t do it by spending the winter holed up in some park on Liberty Street as the 1 percent who put you there speed by in their private cars.
I wanted to yell at the top of my lungs that the CEOs, the bankers and the politicians are happy that you look like a bunch of crazed hippies. This is where they want you.
They want us distracted and confused.
Educate yourselves, and I don’t mean with just four years of college.
Read a newspaper, listen to the radio and get on the Internet. We live in the age of Internet cafes, and almost every protestor I saw was talking about social media.
Get online and learn the history of deregulation, the way the Federal Reserve works and why every American college grad is swimming in debt.
I know it hurts—believe me I do know—but nothing will change until you learn to work on the level of the corporate and government leaders.
It is sad. It is wrong. But they have the power. They have control. They will discredit you. They will use wealth to own you.
Your defense does not lie in a claim of police brutality or blissful ignorance.
Create your defense out of knowledge. Beat them at their own game.
The revolution will be one of education. The revolution will not win with fists or songs, but truth.