Many of the individuals ‘occupying Boston’ are discussing how to remain in the square when the cold weather moves in. The U.S. Post Office might soon declare they do not have sufficient funds to face wind and rain and sleet and snow for more than five days a week, but the occupiers are hoping to stay 24/7 in their effort to get the rest of us thinking about this country’s economic priorities.
Last Saturday I joined the march for peace and economic justice inspired by Occupy Wall Street that sprang up in cities across the country and the world. In Boston, crowds of people carried signs stating “We are the 99%” and “This is What Democracy Looks Like” but I especially liked these two:
OCCUPY SESAME STREET! 50% of the country’s cookies are consumed by 1% of the nation’s monsters!
BOMBING FOR PEACE IS LIKE FUCKING FOR VIRGINITY!
When we reached Dewey Square, I was curious to see how much damage the heavy rain from the day before had inflicted on the tent city. “How did you fare?” I asked an inhabitant straightening the tarp covering his small tent.
He looked over at me a little shyly. “Okay,” he said. I had assumed there must be many like me, passing through, asking questions. I figured he would have grown used to the curiosity of strangers.
“And the others?” I prompted.
“All dry. We’re fine.” He smiled. Why should there be any cause for concern? he seemed to say. He was obviously quite content in his tiny abode.
I walked over to the Logistics tent to see if there were any particular items they needed that I might be able to supply. As I started to introduce myself to Andy who, at that moment, appeared to be in charge, another outsider wandered into the camp and stood beside me. He exuded the kind of anxious intensity I’ve witnessed in some AA meetings and among newly released prisoners. Or perhaps he was homeless, though I doubted he was living on the street since his clothes were better cared for than is usually possible under such circumstances.
“Got any socks?” the newcomer asked, and Andy said he did. “Black ones,” the fellow added. “I only wear black ones.”
Andy simply nodded and went in search of a pair. In less than 60 seconds he handed over a new pair of black socks. For the first time, the fellow stopped staring at the ground and looked into Andy’s eyes. “Thanks, man,” he said. “This whole thing is great.”
“Anytime,” Andy replied. I couldn’t help but think, this is what democracy looks like.
Today I heard that the folks down in the square are conferring with the homeless about the best ways to stay warm and dry on the streets in the winter. I admire their courage. I think I’ll stop in again. There are interesting exchanges going on down in Dewey Square.