Overcast and chilly, it was a real New England fall day. The crowd was small but dedicated, and more than willing to talk. We talked about Obama and Ron Paul, about minarchism and anarchism and socialism and capitalism. It was the most intimate Occupation I’ve attended, and though not particularly inspiring as far as the scale of participation it was meaningful to see familiar faces.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Occupy Maine felt a lot like most protests in Maine: small, ragtag, attracting passive support but lacking the overwhelming passion and dedication…
Maine is a divided protest. The daytime demonstrating happens several blocks away from the campout, lending to the public’s non-comprehension about what the Occupation is about, and the perception that it’s disorganized and lacks both comprehensive grievances and goals. Monument Square feels incomplete without tents and tarps, and Lincoln Park is a tented ghost town while its occupants are across town with signs and flyers.
I want people in Maine to care about Occupy Wall Street. Or Occupy Maine.
Maine is unique; in the event of a cataclysmic, apocalyptic political and/or financial meltdown, we are so locally-focused and so self-sufficient already I believe we will re-emerge relatively unscathed. But our insulation from potential economic disaster does not mean the issues at hand are not important. Maine is a poor state. Maine is a state with a generous welfare system. Maine is a state with struggling school districts. Though we are so self-sufficient, we are still affected by federal government policies. We are affected by state government policies, and having a pseudo-libertarian minarchist tea party governor doesn’t bode well for the future solvency of our people or our state.
We might be busy. We might be apathetic. But we shouldn’t be too busy to heed a necessary call for radical social and political change. We should recognize that, protected as much as we may be, we are not immune. We are affected by government cutbacks at all levels. We are affected by policy changes that damage and hinder the productivity of small (and) family farms and fisheries. The fights of Wall Street and D.C. are not only the fights of Wall Street and D.C. They are our fights, too. New England snooty pride aside, what happens in New York affects what happens in Maine. We are powerful when we want to be; the Buy Local campaign should be evidence enough of that. I don’t understand why we don’t want to be powerful now.
I spoke with several individuals yesterday who wanted to help but didn’t know how. With bodies, is the answer. It is always the answer. Supportive apathy, or apathetic support, is not enough. Donations with no body are not adequate. My documentation is not adequate. I know that. People, the public, want to be supportive. They know change is necessary and they want to help. They just don’t want to help enough. They don’t want to alter their comfortable routines in any way. Give money? Fine. Give goods? Fine. Give time, presence, body, mind? No, thanks, protesting isn’t for me. We are not crazy, and you know it. So join us.
Perhaps it is an inept comparison, but I fear too much apathy here could lead to an “and then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out” moment.
Change is never comfortable and it is never easy. That doesn’t make it less worthwhile.