Do Occupy Wall Street and its polar opposite, The Tea Party, share anything in common? To answer this question, outside of the reported news, we decided to investigate both movements ourselves.
The Tea Party
On September 12th, 2009 we had the good fortune to be staying in Washington, D.C. Our intention was to visit several museums. We discovered that we had inadvertently arrived on the same date and time as the nationwide tour of the Tea Party was staging its final protest at the Capitol. What could we do? As good homeschoolers we had only one choice. Seize the moment and drag our children off to the protest. What we found was fascinating.
Upon emerging from the subway we were immediately surrounded by thousands (actually almost one million) shouting, mostly white, middle class Americans. Other than their signs and the shouting, these people seemed ordinary in almost every way. They came from across the country, although most seemed to hail from the middle of the country. These were the consummate “average” Americans.
The Tea Party people had several specific messages they were intent upon communicating.
- They were against any sign of “socialism” in the government.
- They were vehemently against nationalized healthcare, and repeatedly chanted, “Read the Bill, Read the Bill…”
- They believed in the Constitution.
- Unfortunately some likened Obama to Hitler, although no clear connection was drawn.
We had a great time marching with the crowd down to the Capitol. Many stopped to talk to our children and assure them that they were getting the “best possible history lesson.”
Occupy Wall Street
So, now that we are in 2011 and the Occupy Wall Street group is getting national attention, it seemed only fair that we should join them for their protest as well. With this in mind, we traveled to Liberty Park in New York City and tried to join the protest. Only there really wasn’t one. We were quite surprised by what we actually found.
In fact, there seemed to be no movement at all. Liberty Park could more accurately be labeled, “Tent City.”
Amongst the entire group, which was under 100 people, there were no two signs that reflected the same message.
This was a combination protest with every person representing his/her own interests. No cohesion, no common message, no protest, no energy.
- 1. Quantum (12): I thought it was going to be a formal protest against Wall Street (tycoons). It turned out to be a bunch of derelicts. They weren’t even all protesting the same thing. Some of them were even sleeping!! This was fun because the media was very off on their reporting (of this event).
Truth (11): I though it was going to be something like the Tea Party. It turned out to be just some people with tents and signs that said things like, “Eat the Rich.” It was a really cool experience.
Creatress (14): “Occupy Wall Street” was much less well organized than I anticipated. I expected marching, chanting and unification. Instead I encountered a disorganized group without energy or a common message.
Bounce (8): I thought that everybody was going to sit down while holding signs and that a mayor would stand on stage and talk. Instead, half of the signs didn’t have anything to do with money at all and the other half (of the protestors) were asleep!
We thought we had come to see the great Class Warfare Battle.
But there were no soldiers, only human relics who were clearly living on the fringe of society.
Investigative Journalism and the Homeschooler
What did we learn? We learned that in neither case, were the actual events reported accurately. The Tea Party appeared more mainstream and had many more supporters than was reported. Occupy Wall Street had few supporters and no message in person, despite their strong online and media presence.
In both cases, Happymess kids became motivated to research the issues. What is really happening in government and in society? Why do these people feel so strongly? What is the history of the protest movement? How important is Our Right to Assemble?
Placing current issues in the context of history makes both the present and the past more interesting and relevant.
Creatress found this quote from Pope Leo XIII (1810-1903), in reference to economic Socialism:
We must remove another possible subject of reproach, namely, that while looking after the advantage of the working people they should behave in such a manner as to forget the upper classes of Society; for they also are of the greatest use of preserving and perfecting the commonwealth.
Conversely, this week, October 23, 2011, The Vatican is calling for the great class equalizer by establishing global financial standards that would prohibit class diversification.
“Towards Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of a Global Public Authority,” was at times very specific, calling, for example, for taxation measures on financial transactions. “The economic and financial crisis which the world is going through calls everyone, individuals and peoples, to examine in depth the principles and the cultural and moral values at the basis of social coexistence.”
As we know, class warfare has had a long, and mostly ugly, history.
Through experiential education (field trips) we hope Happymess kids and their friends can learn to make informed decisions and to place value in truth and justice.
Would you take your child to a political rally? Why or why not?
Let Me Count the Days: Homeschooling is stepping out the front door and seeing the world for yourself.