I was on the phone with Patrick Meighan last night, and we were trading numbers and sighing in disbelief. It was a week ago that he sent me his piece about getting arrested with Occupy Los Angeles, and why corporate corruption inspired his protest. As of Saturday, Dec. 10, Culver City Crossroads had 81, 291 pageviews, (as per Google Analytics) hundreds of comments, and emails from New York, Texas, Wales, Brazil, Italy and Canada.
That this post went viral should not have surprised me as much as it did. It was a well written, first-person essay about being in an historic situation. When I published “Just a Thought – Parade Dress” in September, I just had a feeling that Occupy was going to be more than a blip on the radar. I feel that its vital to walk your talk. If you believe in something, you live it.
We began to notice Monday that the server was getting swamped. The site was almost impossible to access for any length of time all week – we kept crashing. When the numbers started to come in, it was jaw-dropping. More than 9,000 visits on Monday. By mid- week it was more than 40,000. Comments went on and on. There are still more than a hundred comments in the queue, but I’m undecided about publishing more.
Where Patrick and I were equally dismayed was that so many commented on Occupy – the legal details of camping on public property, getting arrested as civil disobedience, and enduring mistreatment at the hands of the LAPD. Not many picked up the second part of the piece about WHY all this is happening in the first place.
Pulling a quote from Paul Simon’s American Tune “I don’t know a soul who’s not been battered- I don’t have a friend who feels at ease – I don’t have a dream that’s not been shattered or driven to it’s knees.” Here in my small slice of America, I’m surrounded by people who have lost all the money they worked for decades to save. I can’t count the folks I know who are laid-off, working part-time, temping, scraping through. There is a thick demographic layer of grown children, back home with their college degrees, and no hope of finding a job; not a job in the field they trained for, just any job at all. I know someone who is dealing with the terrifying possibility of being homeless. While all these problems need to be resolved, the system must change or we are just treating the symptoms and not the disease.
As I was walking up Braddock Drive last night, singing Christmas Carols with my Girl Scouts, I passed a yard that has a tent and a banner up on the fence. “We are the 99% - Support Occupy.” While the tent seemed uninhabited, it was a potent symbol. The girls did not need an explanation. They were all hip to the movement. Had anyone been living in the tent, we would have serenaded them with “Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer.”
The hits on the site are proof to me that we are all in this. I can’t quite say we are all in this together. My mail was running about 20:1 that Patrick was a hero for standing up for his beliefs and telling the truth, versus the few who though he was a fool or being there in the first place. The portion of commentators who reviled Patrick for his actions seemed to feel that anyone making an attempt at making the world a better place was an idiot. (I do publish people I disagree with- yep, I do.)
Patrick offered “I’m kinda eager to get back to my regular routine of writing fart jokes, being a husband and dad, and being a UU. Yes, the past week has been gratifying and humbling and the response from all over has been beyond-unforgettable for me – (20,000 pageviews just from the UK, alone! 10,000 pageviews from Germany!). At the same time, it’s been a bit overwhelming, and has kinda crowded out the brainspace that I would otherwise devote to my work and my life.”
He added, “I’m sure that I’ll always, in various ways, support the Occupy movement (in whatever form it evolves into), but I don’t want to become its public spokesperson, and I don’t want it to claim a disproportionate chunk of who I am as a person.”
So, as we get into Monday, life will go on, the holidays will arrive, and I hope that we all find more ways to support each other through all the changes we have to face. Occupy your life.
I’m waiting for ( hoped-for) pictures from Seattle and Portland today as we Occupy the Ports, and I’ve just gotten word that Terminal 5 in Portland is closed by the strikers.
Feel free to forward the link.