I am not there in the flesh, though I did attend an occupy Wall Street, Kingston, NY rally last week, and there is some talk of occupying my tiny home town of Clinton Corners. I do support the movement in other ways as well, have donated money for sleeping bags and will continue to do so.
Last night friends came to dinner. We talked for a time of Halloween rituals. My friend was hosting one and wondering if I would be willing to be a keener (someone who mourns out loud).
“Most people won’t be willing to wail or stomp their feet,” she said. “But we all have those emotions. They need to be expressed.” I assured her I would indeed be willing to wail.
Later talk turned to Occupy Wall Street.
“I don’t understand their objectives,” my friend puzzled. “They don’t seem to have clear goals.”
“Remember how you said most people wouldn’t be willing to keen?” I asked her. “Almost all of us are being hurt by the choices of the one percent, whether we acknowledge it or not, but most of us aren’t willing take to the streets. The people occupying Wall Street, Washington DC and other cities are our keeners. They are expressing what we won’t or can’t express. Outrage at what has happened to our country needs expression. Our voices have not been heard in the halls of corporate or legislative power. They are giving us a voice.”
The analogy made sense to me—and it made sense to her. And it will be my answer now to those who ask: What are they doing? What do they want? They are us, and they are insisting that all of us be heard. In doing so they are making themselves vulnerable, just as the keeners will at my friend’s Halloween ritual but for far longer and at infinitely greater risk to their comfort and safety.
To all the people out in all weathers, making public woes that those in power would rather we keep private, I am keen on you. I am grateful to you. Thank you for being willing to risk discomfort, derision, tear gas, beatings, arrest, and injustice for the sake of justice. Keen on! And may the voice you lift for us all become a shout of joy.