Our country has a lot of protests these days. First, there were organized protests against the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Then there were grassroots protests from folks who eventually wound up calling themselves the Tea Party. Now, there are protests on Wall Street from a conglomeration of groups collectively calling themselves Occupy Wall Street (OWS). Typically, I don’t write anything about these protests because, frankly, I’m too busy to do the research and find out what these people are protesting. However, after I watched some angry, vitriolic, anti-Semitic garbage spewing out of one of the OWS protestors yesterday, I was moved to write something about the people out there chanting, “The people. United. Will never be defeated.”
I’ve got news for those folks – the people protesting on Wall Street, united or not, will always be defeated. Why? Simple. If your rank and file members are anti-Semitic or anti-any group of people, you will never win over the masses. Oh, sure – you might draw in a few thousand people in New York City and maybe even a million or so from coast-to-coast. But even if you drew in 1 million people to support your cause, you’d be a minor fraction of a percent of the American public. Here’s the simple math: 1,000,000 people who are protesting (and, apparently, don’t mind the anti-Semites in their ranks) divided by 320,000,000 Americans = 0.003125 percent of the American public.
That’s not even enough support to warrant one millisecond of any Wall Street banker’s day.
But that’s not my message – that’s just some discussion on what I saw in that hateful, disgusting video. Here’s my message to the OWS protestors:
You are mainly the cause of your own pain.
I’m in the rare position to be able to feel the pain that these protestors are complaining about. These are the kids who went to college, majored in the humanities, and now can’t find a job with their art, English, sociology, political science, gender studies, etc. degree. I feel their pain because I graduated from my college with a bachelors degree in English. The difference between where the protestors are in life and where I am in life is that I didn’t view that humanities degree as a means to an end. In other words, I never thought that getting that degree 1) guaranteed me a job after graduating, 2) guaranteed me any respect after graduating, and/or 3) meant anything other than that I read a lot of literature and cranked out a bunch of academic-style research papers.
The larger difference between the protestors and a guy like me, though, is that I don’t believe my own bullshit. Here’s a brief explanation of what I’m talking about… Thanks to my work with volunteering to my local fraternity, I’ve watched a generation of young kids grow into an unrealistic adulthood. Their adulthood is unrealistic because they actually believe the bullshit that they spew. For example, it’s not uncommon for me to encounter an undergraduate who tells me that his Father/uncle/cousin/Grandfather is a major executive at XYZ Corporation and that once he graduates he’s going to get a good job there (or some variant of that story). And, almost invariably, when it comes time for that undergraduate to move on from college they either don’t graduate at all or wind up working at a completely different company than the one that their familial relationship was supposed to just hand them. Regardless of that reality playing out time and time again, I see more and more young people coming into the academic environment with that entitled mindset. As one of my old professors tells me whenever we have lunch together, there are kids entering college today with the attitude of, “I have arrived!”
And no one gives a shit that they’ve arrived.
So if you are one of the many, many protestors on Wall Street who are complaining that you can’t find a job because of the evil corporations, what you should really be complaining about is a university atmosphere that served you a tall glass of bullshit-flavored Kool-Aid. That’s right – the very same ivory tower where you fell in love with Chaucer, literary reviews of British literature during the Industrial Revolution, or the gender equality struggle in the Middle East (which is something that I’m passionate about, too), is the same ivory tower that duped you into believing that your passion for these causes and issues would be enough to support your life post-graduation.
They lied to you. The professor that you fell in love with because you really believed and felt that they had a passion for their work – they are part of a much larger, much greedier institution than Wall Street. They push an ideal that has proven throughout the ages to never be sustainable – namely, that you can be a 100% humanistic, artistic society and thrive. It’s not possible. Someone has to actually do the work that moves a person, family, community, and country forward. Someone has to get up in the morning and make the donuts. Someone has to pump the gas. Someone has to mow the lawn. Those are the jobs that a civilized society needs filled.
We don’t need someone to sit around and debate the pros and cons of Shakespearean iambic pentameter in adequately representing the struggle for equality during Elizabethan times. Do people get to sit around and have this argument? Of course they do! Are those people ever going to be YOU? Not likely. The people who get to sit around and sip tea while having these high-minded discussions are the same ones who have been doing that for the last fifty years – and they’re not going anywhere any time soon.
In conclusion, I strongly recommend that the OWS protestors take that rage, take that anger, take that hatred towards a bleak future and direct it towards a societal system that nearly forces us all to go to college. The protestors are also complaining about mountains of student loan debt and no serious jobs to help them pay down the debt. Take it from a guy who graduated with a humanities degree (two, actually, when you count the master’s degree) and $121,000 in student loan debt – I feel your pain. You’ve been lied to all of your lives. However, don’t lash out like spoiled children are wont to do. Instead, now is the time to break free from the intellectual shackles that have been harnessing your free thought and true understanding of reality.
Rip off those shackles. Let loose your mind. Begin to think, seriously, about why the world is as it is today. Why are students graduating in a future where they see no hope? Why are corporations always going to put the concerns of their shareholders (i.e. profit) first? Why is it that your protests won’t mean a thing to anyone who actually matters?
Think about those questions as they exist in reality and work towards a reasonable solution. Strip your mind of the prejudices that an over-liberal education have harnessed them with and come to understand what the real world is like today, tomorrow, and into the future. Protesting the job creators is not the answer, folks. The problem is the perpetuation of a national standard that damn near forces its young people to enroll in a collegiate system that is hyper-focused on making a profit while largely shackling creativity by allowing students to graduate while still believing their own bullshit.
Fix that problem and everything else will eventually fall in line.