Tuesday was voting day here in the US, but it was also a day of action all over the world. Sponsored by the Group calling themselves Anonymous, The Million Mask March took over major cities worldwide to protest the power grab by the very wealthy and to defend democracy.
I attended a small gathering of about two to three hundred people, many sporting Guy Fawkes masks, in Washington’s capital of Olympia.
We first gathered in the tiny Sylvester Park where the first speaker spoke of how one percent of the population owns eighty percent of everything and the rest of us are fighting each other for the scraps.
The speaker went on to say that the money crisis is manufactured. There is no money shortage. All the money is just being hoarded by the one percent.
After the impassioned speeches, we all marched up Capitol Way to the state capital, chanting the now usual mantra of “whose streets? Our streets” and “This is what democracy looks like.”
We stopped on the Capital grounds with the capital rotunda towering just a few yards away. There more impassioned speeches were made about how we’re being coerced into robots of mass consumption for goods that wind up in landfills.
One young woman, all of twenty-two years old, spoke of how she was over $300 thousand in debt from medical expenses. She had to endure several back surgeries and had to make the decision of whether or not she should opt for permanent paralysis or staggering debt.
A speaker asked if anyone in the crowd was homeless and one woman spoke up that she didn’t have the money to pay her rent this month. The speaker handed the woman an undisclosed amount of money and three or four people from the group came up and gave her more. This is what this group is about — to help humanity. To put humans before profits.
Meanwhile, the powers that be — that is, those whom we elect to serve us, the people, have chosen to instead serve the corporate overlords. Our public entities are being taken over by corporate interests whose only goal is to line their already bulging pockets with our tax dollars. They get away with this by promising our taxes will go down if we allow our public institutions to be taken over by private corporations. They then use the money they steal from us to bribe the politicians into looking the other way.
Our public schools have now been taken over by corporations. The so-called “common core” standards were written and funded by the likes of the Gates Foundation and the Walton heirs. The numerous tests students must now endure cost around $400 thousand each (Seattle has approximately a half dozen). That money, our tax dollars, go directly to private, for profit corporations who pay their CEOs far more than the average teacher earns.
The Stop and Frisk and NSA were brought up as well. All these grievances are the antithesis of democracy and tantamount to fascism.
Finally, the fact that pot smokers are still serving mandatory long-term sentences for victimless “crimes,” but the bankers who caused the biggest financial collapse in seventy years still walk free. In one final symbolic gesture, everyone gathered at a nearby monument for a big “smoke-in.” Marijuana was distributed and shared equally amongst all those who wished to imbibe.
I was again saddened by the small turnout. More people attend sporting events than participate in their democracy and that is why we don’t have much democracy left. What I was heartened to see was after all the speeches were made and the last marijuana paraphernalia stashed away, several people wandered about picking up trash and smoothing out the newly planted bulb paths that had several footprints in them.
There was one final gathering on the Capital steps for a photo-op before heading home.
If there is anyone out there who is not outraged by what is happening in this country and all over the world, then you are part of the problem. I understand you’re not being able to come to Olympia mid week if you have to work (I arranged for the day off), but there are rallies on weekends. You can write your elected officials to let them know how you feel. If you value democracy, you must participate in it. The Tea Party got in power because too many people are too apathetic.