Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Bin Laden is dead and the war at home goes on

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Workers in San Francisco's financial district threaded their way past workers of a different sort demonstrating outside one of Wells Fargo Bank's stone towers this noon.

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Community and labor groups have had it with ordinary people getting stiffed in the Great Recession while banks' profits soar. Well's shareholders were meeting inside.

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For the people who live in them, houses aren't investments; they are homes.

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Speakers told of being stonewalled while trying to get the bank to renegotiate their payments so as to keep the loans afloat.

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It was good to see that organizers had a flyer to explain the protest to the public and a good size core of volunteers to hand it out. Too often, this form of communication gets forgotten amid the effort of picking speakers and holding a coalition together.

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Does this sort of thing do any good? I think yes. Progress that involves large swathes of people is incremental. A mass of people need to learn to experience that nothing very bad will happen if they protest publicly. In fact, they might even feel better, having a chance to yell at a bank.

Another, smaller but vital, group of people need to learn what you have to do to enable groups to come together to express themselves. There's a lot of work that goes into putting on even a small public protest. We aren't born knowing this stuff. It's experiential.

None of that will improve the world much immediately, but the accumulated experience is critical when, even if only once in a lifetime, circumstances create the opportunity to push through real change. Impossible? Well just look at Egypt before being so sure ...

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