Occupy the Kids?

Should I or shouldn’t I get the kids involved with the Occupy movement?

We visited Occupy Detroit in early November with the kids and mother-in-law.

This is a question I have been grappling with since the Occupy Toledo encampment set up shop downtown. My immediate reaction was, of course I’ll take the twins down there to see what it’s all about. But this was before the movement sparked police violence and protesters in larger cities were getting pepper sprayed, cracked on the head and dragged off to jail.

I grew up in a politically active family. My dad was a labor union organizer for 25 years and spent a lot of his time on picket lines in candlelight vigils. He marched against the Gulf War in the early 1990s and brought my brother and me along. In San Diego, where buildings were wrapped in yellow ribbons to support the troops, protesting the war was not a popular act. As a girl coming of age there, I just wanted to fit in, and I did not appreciate the exposure he was giving to me.

Until I grew up.

I feel such solidarity with the Occupiers across the country and the world, though I have not physically participated in much of the goings on. Most of my decision to refrain from joining the movement with my presence at the camp in downtown Toledo has to do with my kids. While I would like to expose them to the issues Occupy raise and show them first-hand this amazing show of democracy, kinship and protest against the raging inequities among the classes, I don’t want to inadvertently expose them to any voilence that could erupt.

Granted, Occupy Toledo has been small and peaceful, and the police presence minimal–especially compared with what is going on elsewhere where police have donned riot gear and clashed with protesters with grisly outcomes. But mostly, I have preferred to stay on the sidelines of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, sharing information and keeping up with the news.

I have friends in Oakland, where we once lived, who took their kids to the Occupy encampment, and they had no problem with violence. We also visited the Occupy Detroit encampment earlier in the month and enjoyed talking with people and feeling the good energy there.

I have driven past the Occupy Toledo space a few times with the kids. They tell me they don’t want to “go to the protest.” I won’t push them. But I do want to expose them somehow.

I read this article today asking readers if they would take their kids to any Occupy protests. It raises some good points about indoctrinating kids on the parents’ principles.

So, I’ll do what I can, and expose where I can, but I also know that pushing the kids too far in one direction can often backfire.

 

Green Friday

The chaos of Black Friday. Source: DJTechTools.com

Yesterday, someone I follow on Twitter sent out a tweet saying: “Don’t give Black Friday your Black Dollars!” It resonated with me because I’ve always witnessed Christmas, as an outsider non-Christian, as a time when Americans go a little bit crazy about buying stuff.

Now as it seems people are waking up from a 30-plus-year sleep believing that unregulated capitalism can keep us safe and happy, it is a perfect opportunity to take action and change the status quo.

Maybe instead of shopping on Black Friday and giving our hard-earned cash to the multinational corporations and institutions that are appealing to our American instinct to buy more stuff, we can savor the meaning of the prior day’s Thanksgiving and really feel thanks and blessings for all the richness we have in our lives.

By staying in and not giving in to the marketing machine and mobs and mayhem of Black Friday, we will also be giving Mother Nature a break. So this year, I’m calling the day after Thanksgiving “Green Friday.”

If we protest shopping and stay in to spend time with family and friends or just spend time reading a book, walking in the woods or around the neighborhood, if we protest spending any money unless absolutely necessary, we will be burning less fuel, sitting in fewer traffic jams, using less electricity and reducing our stress.

Green Friday will be a way for me to sit back, continue to digest the copious amount of food ingested the night before, relax, visit with friends, enjoy my family and — if the weather’s good enough– take a walk outside in the fresh air away from crowds, away from big box stores, and away from the consumeristic ideal that has swallowed the holiday of Christmas.

Will you join me?

P.S. Naomi Klein recently wrote about how those who deny climate change’s existence or, rather, humans’ contribution to climate change, believe that anti-capitalists have drummed up the science to promote socialism and squash American freedom. Read on here.

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