VOL. 127 | NO. 34 | Monday, February 20, 2012
A story from The Memphis News
On newsstands throughout the city
Size Not Integral To Protest’s Punch
The Memphis News
The Occupy Memphis movement is a curiosity to most and a serious pursuit for others.
The small group camped in Civic Center Plaza Downtown is also a reminder that some of our nation’s most significant changes began with a determined few who were nowhere near a majority opinion or popular when they began.
Many more have had the ability to stage large marches, get backing from the “right people” and pull off events that turn heads but never move the bar on change.
And still others see protest as a solitary act in which a “voice in the wilderness” carries further than the undecipherable roar of a crowd.
The impact, no matter the setting or venue, depends on what the change being sought is.
Ideas still matter even as the nature of protest has changed.
What hasn’t changed is the concept that by the time a critical mass of public sentiment recognizes the need for change there are new questions about why more didn’t recognize it sooner.
An idea whose time has come is usually a bittersweet experience because its arrival is too late for other generations who recognized and saw the need for change long ago.
True voices in the wilderness are usually not assured by later reflections that the sound of their own voice then was a beautiful melody. And those who would accept the mantle while still in the wilderness may just be content with nothing but the sound of their own voice telling those who come later that they were first.
To the point – protest is a risk when the eyes of the protestors are on their legacy and not a goal in the here and now.
Occupy is a particularly difficult form of protest that has some historical precedents from the Bonus Army March by World War I veterans to the Poor People’s Campaign carried out in the wake of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.
Even if the Occupy Memphis movement isn’t your prescription for change, it has at least started some spirited discussions.
Early in the saga, some in Occupy met with those in the local Tea Party movement for an exchange in which few minds appeared to be changed and the two movements retained their boundaries.
There have also been debates among those who agree on broad goals within Occupy about tactics with some wondering when the local movement would occupy a bank lobby a few blocks away or even trash it.
And for all the occupiers would teach those who walk by their campsite, they have also learned much in the passing months about the balance between protesting and attempting to build a community – even a tentative one.