Something bigger than ourselves

Heather Bryant / Editor-in -Chief
Oct. 18, 2011

One of the things I remember most from when I was a child is sitting on my grandmother’s lap at the kitchen table when she went through bills in the middle of the night.

Grandma would write each bill’s name in cursive on a piece of carefully numbered notebook paper pages. Sometimes my mom would sit across from her and write a list of ways to make money.:

Pick up aluminum cans: 100 lbs  – $20
Sell eggs: 10 dozen – $30
Scrap iron from dump: $50

But mom’s list never equaled Grandma’s. Sometimes they would just sigh and keep writing.

Sometimes they fought about how it wasn’t fair. Sometimes they would hang their heads and cry. The numbers never added up.

I realized recently that I make the same lists. Gas, rent, phone, insurance and other bills on one side of the paper. Editing, designing, photography and writing on the other. I’m lucky. Most of the time, mine equal each other.

But for so many people, the numbers still don’t add up. They haven’t for a long time.

The Occupy Wall Street movement started only weeks ago, but has spread across the globe already. Inspired by the Arab Spring, people took to the streets, the sidewalks, the parks and parking lots in protest of what they see as an unacceptable problem with the current political and economic systems – ones that have concentrated most of the wealth with only one percent of the population. 

Over the past year, something started to change in the minds of Americans. We watched as people, oppressed their whole lives, rose up and took back their freedoms. That sense of rebellion and revolution has taken a hold of us.

Day after day, the presence of UAF students in Constitution Park in the sun or snow is a fierce blow to the apathy Sun Star editors have editorialized about for decades.

I’ve seen many issues go to the printer without a single letter to the editor in them. This week, we have three. Maybe this week is a fluke, but I can hope that watching a world in revolution might be what we need to wake up and realize that we have to take control of our lives and our futures. That won’t happen if we do nothing.

“We believe that something is terribly wrong with our political and economic systems,” linguistics senior Forrest Andresen, said. Andresen is one of the organizers of the local movement.

Andresen emphasized that the Occupy movement isn’t a liberal, conservative, libertarian, religious or atheist agenda.

“We have everyone here and we’re moving past those differences to one goal … We believe once the discussion begins in earnest, that’s when real change can take place,” Andresen said.

Many of the pundits and talking heads derided the protests as unorganized and lacking direction. They say the movement can’t succeed because it lacks goals and demands.

While the Occupy Wall Street organization’s website does list many goals that people have submitted to forums, there is a reason it doesn’t have demands to be met.

This movement isn’t a hostage negotiation. It’s a simple declaration. No more. Enough is enough. The numbers don’t add up and it’s not right. The ideals that we built the country upon are being twisted into something that sacrifices what is right for what is profitable.

Will this movement bring about real change? I don’t know. Movements like these have a way of growing, and maybe when the protestors go home, the fervor will die down.

But, if there were ever time to make a stand, this is it. This is that line in the sand – one that people have drawn many times throughout human history. This struggle is nothing new, and each time it has happened there were people willing to stand up for what is right. This is our generation’s chance

For many people, their lists are filled with food, rent, medical treatment or electricity. And they only get to choose one.

People want to see a change in the way the world works, they need to see it. Right now for too many people, the numbers don’t add up and every day is just a battle to survive.

Heather Bryant

The Sun Star

(907) 474-5078

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