Abolitionist Theodore Parker said the arc of history is long, but it bends towards justice. In certain moments we have the power to bend that arc more quickly if we act together.
Greenpeace’s solar demonstration vehicle, The Rolling Sunlight, powers the media center at Occupy Wall Street with solar cells.
The world is alive with activism — the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, and Madison, Wisconsin — in reaction to the over-reach of corporations, corrupt politicians and an economic system that enriches the few while leaving our environment and our retirement accounts depleted.
In a time of economic hardship, the Arab Spring caught fire when a crooked police officer demanded a bribe from a street vendor. People rose up against corruption and for a more democratic society.
In the U.S. wages have declined since 1973 due in large part to corporate globalization and the rise of productivity. College grads can’t find jobs. A deep sense of cynicism about the ability to make change has swept our nation, in part due to the shameful over-reach of the Supreme Court that opened the floodgates to corporate money in politics. A generation of Americans worked hard and played by the rules, only to find the rules of the game had been rigged by a small group of corporate leaders like the Kochs.
Detractors of the Occupy movement complain that there’s no unified demand. What I hear are people – first Americans and now across the globe – saying to multinational corporations: “You’re paying out bonuses while jobs are an endangered species. You’ve taken the American Dream – for the first time in generations might leave our kids a worse life and a worse world to live in. You own the courts and have corrupted our Congress, so we’re here at your doorstep.”
The Occupy Wall Street movement is a response to the economic and democratic crises. You can’t have a democracy without a middle class, and the corporate-right has used its might to eliminate unions and ship jobs overseas, contributing to the four-decade decline in wages. You can’t have a democracy if the Supreme Court views corporations as people and allows corporations to spend unlimited money to elect or defeat politicians, threatening to overpower citizen groups and initiatives.
The warning cry of the peaceful Occupy Wall Street protests is for the future of democracy. Greenpeace in the U.S. has always recognized we cannot have a healthy planet without citizens who are willing to collectively raise our voices and participate in a functional political process. When decisions are made only for the good of the few, human lives and ecological health are put in peril.
We stand – as individuals and an organization – with Occupiers of all walks of life who peacefully stand up for a just, democratic, green and peaceful future.