Several Wurzweiler students participated in the Occupy Wall Street Movement in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park on Tuesday October 18th to observe the organizational structure and leadership dynamics as part of a class Community Social Work. Click here to read the full article on Yeshiva University’s website. Below are some personal reflections from one of the students, David ML Knapp. 

“I don’t usually get so compassionate about issues that I want to immediately tell everyone about an idea/experience especially when I am tired and it is 12:25 am on a Wednesday morning and I have just returned home.

Yet I participated as a social work student in an amazing night with amazing, caring, compassionate and frustrated Americans of all races, religions and creeds/ethnicity who have one thing in common (despite much adversity and ideological differences)–that the 1% of Americans is making it and we ( I include myself) are not. I shared with my community social work colleagues a rare chance to see a new phenomenon before my eyes. The campers (as I call them) are not calling for regime change like in Egypt, or violence like in Lybia, Yemen, Syria or Iraq. They are like their Israeli/Egyptian and former Ukrainian colleagues passionate and committed to staying in their confined place and reaching out to us-the disenfranchised and disinherited. Do we realize that this is who we are? I am not sure. Like we go to work, they to go to work, for themselves and for us. Like my kids often wonder, do we know what they are doing for us??? NO!

Yet, for a month they are getting along, cooking, cleaning, recycling, marching, singing and living together despite vast differences in background, ethnicity, age, experience and education. Wow, you may say that is not what I heard or images I saw. They also are mad, angry and militant. Yes I would say they are but they are lovers of each other and of us, the 99%. Signs spewed everywhere of love, peace and compassion for us and each other. Are there fringes in their midst, Marxists, anarchists, “tree” Huggers and radical activists, yeah there are but there is the out of work former minister who sold everything and paid for his train ticket to NYC. There is the Bronx mother who came down to Wall Street and who left her children with her mother. The out of work professor, the young married couple, worried about their tomorrow. They are you and I. I know all of you and I know that each of you, despite cynicism and our doubts would meet someone who reminds them of themselves. WOW is all I can say.

Now, as to a platform. So, for over a month they have been occupying (as you all know) public spaces all over the US–NY, Chicago, Ohio, Texas and CA.

It all started in NYC (yeah) in Zaccati square near Wall Street and it has spread. Common theme Oligarchs, fat cats and the uber rich. it is not that they are evil it is just they have left no room for us, the vast majority. We have little hope and little mobility and prospects for success no mobility and the middle class (face it) is screwed. Yes you say you know and you grumble. Wake up they don’t just grumble they march and gather and sing and share. The 20 year old and the 45 year old, the Lenin slogans and the Green Day lyrics. Our kids work harder and harder and we work longer and longer and for what–more anxiety, more stress and less hope? Someone is gaining? Lets not envy them but change the playing field. At what cost and in what parity can this happen????

Tonight I met real Americans from all over the world. We talked, shared stories and our lives and shook hands and committed to help each other. I encourage all of you to dig in and lend a hand in whatever way you can with our brethren, your neighbors, friends and colleagues and families–as they said in Zaccatti square the 99 % ers. This is non-political and non-denominational. It is a movement (despite all its issues) about feeling empowered and empowering each other and finding camaraderie, a refreshing feeling in an age of crass materialism, modernity and cynicism. None of them thought they were the leaders (universal feeling) but they were all leaders… We (you and I) are all leaders if we choose and commit to be so.  Please join in re-thinking how we view what is going on around us. Don’t frown but find out and get involved in your own way to spread the message that we can be great if we work and join together.

We are all potential and actual leaders of our own lives and destinies if we want to be….. they are the vanguard for us. The bus is waiting. Stand up with each other in friendship as members of the 99%.

David ML Knapp

Photos courtesy of Wurzweiler student Renee Eddy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Please also see a recent posting on the blog of Wurzweiler alumnus Rabbi Eli Mallon, M.Ed., LMSW (WSSW ’07)

regarding his own visit to “Occupy Wall Street.”

 

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