Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How to Lose Support

When groups of protesters began forming on Wall Street in New York, in Boston and in other venues across the country, I said "Good.  Time to send a message that things are not as intended in this country".

Now, I knew from the outset that the majority in power would scoff at their sit-ins and label them rabble-rousers, lay-abouts and generally lazy free-loaders whose message should be not only ignored but stopped in its tracks.  Their tent cities that they were setting up from New England to California have turned into something of an eyesore, I'll admit.  And I'm not certain that the protesters have a clear idea of their target or targets.  Unclear messages can certainly lead to disdain, no matter the worthiness of their cause.

But regardless of the vagaries of the assorted messages - they vary from encampment to locale - I was still a cheerleader for their efforts.  I was, after all, around during the Vietnam War protests, which initially drew the same reaction from leaders in Washington and elsewhere, but ultimately succeeded in getting their singular message across: the war was wrong and our involvement unwarranted.

Today, the group camping out in Boston took a giant step away from my support and sympathies; some of its members declared justification for use of facilities established to aid and feed the city's homeless.  A spokesman in the mayor's office even gave support to the group, noting that the shelters which survive primarily through charitable donations and grants are open to anyone who is homeless.

That 's okay, so long as this is true.  But members of the "occupy" movements are not homeless.  In fact many could easily blend in with the country club set and might otherwise be seen having afternoon tea at the Ritz or the Parker House.

My message to the occupiers in Boston and in cities everywhere is this:

In the case of an emergency, use of the facilities which are in annual struggle to survive even in good times seems to me fine.  But to take advantage of food and hot showers intended for the genuinely homeless among us doesn't cut it.

If there is need for a shower, go home, take one, and return.  If hunger sets in, go back to where food is plentiful, or trek to the nearest market and stock up.

But above all, you need to stop taking advantage of the generous nature of society.  Being homeless because of the lack of housing is a hell of a lot different from choosing to camp out on the city's streets.

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