Why we occupy

Manifestos, Stories, and Memories.

The impetus of cultural progression and the vehicle behind change. Below are stories of Occupy Naperville members, demonstrating why we Occupy.

I was asked why I occupy and I thought about it for a moment. I occupy because I watch the news and keep myself informed and I didn’t know.

I didn’t know about the fractional banking system. I didn’t know about the 2010 ruling giving corporations rights that equate them to human beings. I didn’t know that what’s on the daily news is garbage meant to distract you from what is really happening. I had my head in the sand like millions of others complaining about injustice but not knowing what to do to change it.

I still don’t know how to change it but if I am able to wake up even one other person the marching, chanting and giving up free time will be worth it.

I have many friends that have been talking about conspiracies and theories for years and while I agreed that some things were possible I didn’t actually believe that people could be so cruel, wars for oil, money being more important than lives.

My eyes are open now and I do know, with this movement I have learned many things each day and started doing my own research, I love my country but I am ashamed of what it is becoming. I truly believe that if we don’t change it now it will be too late, if this movement fizzles out we will never change it and it will only get worse.

I will march until all of the people are gone and there is no one left to listen because all I have is my voice, my vote and my time.

– Liz Gilstrap-Lytle, Aurora Resident

For years, I’ve been told that if I wanted to make a difference in the political system, I needed to vote. Truth be told, I’ve been a little young to exert influence in too many election seasons, but every opportunity that I could vote, I did. I’ve gone to door to door in election campaigns, stood in rallies celebrating both victories and loses, and maintained the hope that the America we were inheriting was good. Just. Correct.

But with age comes wisdom. Or research, depending on how you want to look at it. The American political system is broken. The American economic system is broken. The American educational system is broken. All around us are shatters of the American dream.

And from what I recall in my limited voting experience, there was not a checkbox on the ballot for eliminating corporate-financed campaigns. I certainly never saw anything about educational reform and I think I would have remembered seeing a checkbox asking for an explanation as to why my student loans are so crushingly high. And, there in the fine print, in the actions of Washington, in the vitrolic rhetoric of our two-party system: “We don’t care about the people. We care about lobbyist funds. We care about maintaining our power. We care about maintaining our wealth.”

A very wise man, among us today, recently taught me that a plutocracy is a government ruled by the wealthiest citizens. The 1%. They will attempt demonize us. They may even attempt to bring us into their fold. They will do to us what they have done to us for years: co-opt  and pervert our lives, our homes, our finances for their personal gain.

Do not be tricked by their campaign promises. We are on own; it is up to the people to fight for the people. If you feel yourself growing tired, growing weak: Remember. Remember all those years, staring at the ballot boxes, staring at names that have raised thousands in campaign donations and dolled out campaign promises to plutocrat buddies before you have even put your pencil to paper. Remember the closed stores of Main Street, the foreclosed homes that were parceled off and sold so many times the government cannot tell us what bank they now belong to. Remember the basic rights that are being stolen as we speak from labor unions, immigrants, students, and the middle class.

Before this crowd, I take an oath, unto myself and the people united: As a member of the United States of America, I will no longer allow this corrupted system to steal my voice. I will no longer remain ignorant of what the plutocrats plan for my future. I will no longer ALLOW the plutocrats to plan my future. I will scream until my voice is hoarse, march until my legs give out, and fight until my arms have no strength.

I will not defend myself through the flimsy ballot box, but through the power of my own citizenry.

I hope that you will all join me in this oath. March with me until our voices are raw, until our legs give out, and our arms have no strength. That way, if I falter or grow weary, you can pick me up. That way, if you falter or grow weary, I can pick you up. With our numbers and voices as a shield, we will make the ballot box, the plutocrats, and economic injustice itself tremble.

– Evelyn Marie, Naperville Resident

Big corporations have used money to take control of our government. They make profits by harming people and by harming the environment. They even attempt to control our thoughts with their media conglomerates.

To me, the Occupy movement is about ending the injustices stated above. It’s about taking back everything corporations have taken from us.
I believe it can happen only if we come out of our homes, talk to our neighbors, and build communities.

– Alan Lynn, Naperville Resident

Does it seem silly that a grown man living a comfortable lifestyle would be seen standing at a busy intersection in an upscale neighborhood holding a sign saying, “Tax Wall St. – Build Peace?”

Evidently reporters and photographers thought it was sufficiently newsworthy to include in local newspapers, along with other pictures and stories about the Occupy Naperville movement.

But the question remains.  Why?  Is this just a silly exercise to gain attention?  Or is it serious?  Can it possibly change anything?  Are the occupiers merely modern day Don Quixote’s tilting at windmills?

Such are the questions that invade my consciousness as I prepare my signs, join the group, and establish my unique role in standing, marching, chanting, and discussing with strangers our Quest.  Why?  Passion.

I have a passion for Peace – the Loving Struggle for Justice.  And I wage peace at every opportunity.

In recent years I’ve witnessed a great assault on our government, our environment,  and the middle class by the super rich and the corporations they pilot for profit.  Their political agenda is simple: finance the elections of those who support minimal regulations, minimal corporate taxes, and minimal welfare for all but the rich.  And finance negative campaigns against their political opponents.

America was the beacon of democracy for the world.  We were born with a Declaration that All Men are Created Equal.  We fought a Civil War so that a Government Of the People, By the People, and For the People could long endure.  Some of us experienced the Great Depression brought about by greed but survived by installing judicious bank regulation.  The regulations are gone.  We crashed again.  We bailed out the banks.  And now a grid-locked government is powerless to regulate and a Supreme Court majority has proclaimed that Corporations are People and Money is Speech.  End of story.  We the people, the 99%, have no place in the government.  Only the streets and the jails.

I have been called a dreamer, but I still believe that democracy – true democracy – is the wave of the future.  We have lost much of it here.  Politicians in both parties know that only money counts if they want to get elected, reelected, or a committee chair position.  They also know that corporations have way more money than ordinary people – the kind with flesh and blood, hearts and souls.

If Occupy Wall Street succeeds we will get the corrupting influence of money out of government.  We can get there by taxing Wall Street transactions to the point where it is no longer just a casino for the rich.  We can restore a fairer progressive tax structure.  And we can amend our constitution by stating the obvious: corporations are not people and money is not speech.

– Paul Sjordal Naperville Resident

Truth and Passion Seekers Must Unite to Build a Compassionate, New World by Paul E. Sjordal
The passing of Nelson Mendela Thursday, an icon of political activism, caused me to reflect on my own activism. Anything I could say about him would trump all of the accolades that are pouring out everywhere in the world and on every medium. It was hard for me to be a political activist after college graduation because I immediately entered the Air Force through ROTC in 1963. I was able to make some effective contributions to help level the playing field for Blacks and women in the military, but getting involved in civilian movements and politics had to be done carefully as an Air Force officer and not possible in my five overseas assignments. Upon my ‘jobs’ retirement in 2006 after 28 years in the military world, including the last five in Chicago among the media and power brokers, and 14 in the Chicago inner-city nonprofit world, I was wondering about what to do next since I really didn’t get to know many people except for close Naperville neighbors.
I’ve always been driven by doing what causes me to be passionate, not prosperous because I decided very early in life that money would never affect my passions. In 1991-92 I tested my thoughts about the political world as a paid staffer in a campaign to defeat District 9 US House Democratic incumbent Sid Yates, who had held his job for a record 42 years, a seat now held by progressive Jan Schakowsky, who was then running for reelection as a state Rep. I learned in that experience a lot about elections and was convinced I would never run for office, but would find candidates whom I could lend my expertise and passionate support. My strong need to protest against the War Machine led me to joining the DuPage Democrats and joining many new friends in attempting to turn DuPage Blue. As chairman of our Dems’ Candidate Recruitment Committee, I started my daily News emails in September of 2008 so busy ‘knocking on doors’ candidates and others could be current on issues and it has grown to 547 addressees.
Then in October of 2011 I found more true friends by joining Occupy Naperville activists. The hundreds of people I now know have as friends all have one thing in common, we want to change our world through truth seeking activism. We won’t accept the status quo of lies, deception and rigged, owned governments at every level who believe and practice ‘ends justify the means’ tactics. We know the current Fat Cats who started their global takeover plans during ‘human rights’ and ‘anti-war’ successes in the ’60s are well on their way to total success and must be taken down. It’s a daunting, long-term task burning our passionate inner-selves where failure could mean the real ending of our world. It’s very unlikely that I will see that take-down in my lifetime. Living the rest of my life doing whatever I can to eventually make that happen is more than enough for me because I feel I am contributing and my passions are very much alive. I’ve mentioned passion a lot because that is how you find the best paths. The Fat Cats work hard to kill our passions so we can become their economic slaves. Protagonist Tyler Durden in the “Fight Club” novel by Chuck Palahniuk put it succinctly this way, “We work at jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.”
From everything that I have read about the secret TPP, it will be a huge impediment to our goals. We all have our own passions and issues that are valid and needed. The three biggest current issues for me that have to be addressed are owned politicians, climate crisis and global domination by the Fat Cats. Stopping the TPP bill as we understand it is currently drafted is critical to reversing the increasing inequality that disgusts compassionate activists and feeds the greedy Fat Cats. Ignorance, economic slavery and divide and conquer are very effective tools of the Fat Cats to meet their goals. If we don’t prioritize, they will win. Progressive, informative websites are great tools for us. Through my News, I try to introduce you to sites you may not know about. One that I financially support that refuses to take any money that could influence them is Global Research created and operated by the Centre for Research on Globalization.