What are we supposed to do?

Occupy Wall Street?

Fine. It’s is bound to come up in conversation, and despite my hesitation to discuss with any authority for lack of understanding, I’m going to wave at this monster (I mean that in the most endearing way) and then call it in another direction.

I can speak for my peers – people living in what is perceived as a catastrophic economic crisis – to some extent, because a consensual lack of understanding seems to be at the root of the problem.

The way I see it is that there is a vast disconnect between actions taken in daily lives and any easily identifiable purpose for those actions. The decisions that I make day-to-day are not at all related to any type of need. Instead, I am comfortable, well-fed and warm.

So … what now? If basic necessity doesn’t motivate us, what does? What do almost 2 million unemployed college graduates do with themselves?

Please do click the image to visit an interesting onlineschools.org infographic on higher ed

Well, maybe there’s some need to reevaluate what exactly we were up to to begin with. Why were we ever in school again? What do we want to be doing with our time? At least, what don’t we want to be doing with our time? What do we want to change about our lives in their current states?

It’s really very, very basic: From here, it’s a matter of identifying goals and setting objectives. I don’t mean this to bash Occupiers too much – if the goal is to populate a space, find a voice, twirl a hula-hoop and share a sleeping bag with someone who hasn’t showered in a month, then they’re already winning (I think maybe this is actually what they want – just look at the rise in music festivals in recent years … not to mention the highest enrollment in college ever). Really, these people probably have a lot to feel good about.

I’m really serious. I think a lot of people are asking what the point of Occupying is:

WHAT DO THESE PEOPLE WANT? Maybe they just want to want something.

That’s a good place to start. But if you really go back to square one and begin to ask them what is important to them (I’ve got it covered – I’m going to journalize a sect of them when I go to D.C. next week), I hope the answers are a lot more colorful than that (there are SO many opportunities to do things that feel important at least while you are doing them), though we’ve all been there on the hopelessness front. But we can’t possibly be that satisfied with the status quo – our own individual status quos, too – not to ask more of ourselves.

Maybe it’s a problem of not asking enough of ourselves or maybe it’s a problem of asking too much. We have to start small, with something attainable. Identify important, personal goals and dip into our abilities and resources to accomplish objectives that get us there.

Dude, it's only a dollar. Photo Cred: AACina/Flickr

I have a hard time believing that the abilities aren’t there and I’m skeptical that the resources are as limited as we might initially think. If they are – if all of these people are angry about a lack of mobility handed down by the government, economy, Wall Street – if they really think that’s what preventing them from accomplishing anything – maybe the crazy kids are on to something.


3 thoughts on “What are we supposed to do?

  1. I feel like all these crazy kids took their sociology classes way too serious and forgot to sign up for the”get your ass out there and make something for yourself” seminar. Maybe the ole fat and lazy Americans thing has some truth. Its certainly a lot easier to bitch and complain and camp out them to work for peanuts at McDonalds. That’s a choice you’ve gotta make but it would seem to me the crazy kid who was quickly promoted to manger at McDonalds would have a better answer to the future interview question “what were you doing in 2011 & 2012?” I would hate to tell a large fortune 500 company (the place here in America where you can make the kinds of money these occupiers probably want to make) that I was occupying the very place that their fortunes were built. I think the kid busting his ass at Walmart just got hired. This is America people. you’ve still

  2. I think you’re being a little harsh. And – go figure – I think it’s because you assume that $$$ is the only metric by which to measure success. I get it, OK, so I’ll move on. A little.

    When you say “This is America, you’ve still got to work” I’m highly skeptical of the picture of America you paint. Is potential for mobility – the American Dream – a true story anymore? And even if it is, what’s the end goal? How do we get there? What’s stopping us? Is it a rewarding place to be?

    We can demand “work” but what is work anymore, in a world of exponential growth of outsourcing and technology? What does it mean to “make something of yourself?”

    I agree that complaining isn’t productive, but I’m pointing to a problem with figuring out what “productive” means to begin with.

    I completely acknowledge that Occupy Wall Street is problematic, but I think that at the very least it says something about what young people think of their lives and what they see themselves doing in order to be satisfied living them.

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