Mary Wildfire: Why I'm going to help occupy Freedom Plaza

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The prospect of camping on paved ground in October in a big, scary city is hardly appealing to me, a 55-year-old woman who prefers my quiet ridge-top home in Roane County. So why am I planning to participate in the takeover of Freedom Plaza in Washington, starting Oct. 6?That day is the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan. The war there is not popular with Americans; neither is the one in Iraq. These wars have cost the lives of thousands of American soldiers, and the physical or mental health of tens of thousands, while draining resources badly needed at home.And if they're unpopular here, imagine how the people of Iraq and Afghanistan feel about it. They've lost hundreds of thousands, have hundreds of thousands of widows and orphans. It's scarcely surprising that they hate us, which means the wars have made us less secure.We could be more secure if we could create the hundreds of thousands of green jobs involved in a transition away from dependence on oil, but this never moves from talk to action because the oil companies have veto power in Washington.We could be healthier, more secure and save quite a bit of money if we had the kind of single-payer health-care system European countries and Canada enjoy, but that option, preferred by most Americans, was taken off the table at the start of the debate because insurance and drug companies have veto power.Ours, once the proudest, richest and freest country in the world, has become a land where torture is accepted and the rule of law doesn't apply to the powerful; where once-inviolate constitutional rights are now conditional, but the Supreme Court affirms the rights of corporations; where the government gets more and more secretive while demanding the right to spy on citizens at will.
The government bails out the banks while allowing families to be foreclosed on even when the paperwork was fraudulent.Following perhaps the greatest environmental disaster, in the Gulf of Mexico, our president OK'd more offshore drilling; following the worst nuclear disaster in history, even as Germany and Japan decided to end their nuclear programs, he's pushing new loan guarantees for nuclear power. Scientists say it's too late to prevent climate change, and we must act immediately or risk leaving parts of the world uninhabitable.The response of our "leaders" is mostly to pretend it doesn't exist. As the United States refuses to offer even an inadequate plan for reducing emissions, the rest of the world sees little reason to act without us. Our grandchildren will pay a monstrous tab for this extreme irresponsibility.This is a country in steep decline. It's a nominal democracy where the desires of the people are irrelevant to policymakers. We are well past the time when we must rise to take our country back! If the people of Egypt and Tunisia could stand up to their dictators, occupying their Freedom Squares in huge numbers until they forced change, can we not do the same?This is not a protest with a single demand. It's organized around several things most Americans want: ending the wars, single-payer health care and ending corporate control of the political process. Some details will be discussed and agreed upon among participants; there will also be direct actions designed to stop business as usual, in which our government sells itself to the highest bidder.Come Oct. 6, I expect to be "walkin' like an Egyptian," joining people from all over the country and all walks of life in demanding democracy in the USA. I hope you'll consider joining me (october2011.org).Wildfire, of Roane County, is the state coordinator for october2011.
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