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Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Rain and the Reckoning

The Rain and the Reckoning

"...and soon now we shall go out of the house and go into
the convulsion of the world, out of history into history and
the awful responsibility of Time."

- Robert Penn Warren

By William Rivers Pitt
January 01, 2012

Dewey Square, the patch of earth in the shadow of the Federal
Reserve Building and One Financial Center that Occupy Boston
protesters called home from September to December, is empty

The same can be said for the original Occupy space at UC Davis,
where a dozen kneeling and defenseless protesters were hosed
down with pepper spray, and for Oakland, where the police
rioted and very nearly killed a two-tour Marine Corps veteran
of Iraq.

Occupy encampments sprang up in hundreds of cities in all fifty
states of the union over these last four months. Many, if not most,
are gone now, done in by police invasion or uncooperative weather,
or both.

You may have noticed the sudden lack of attention paid to the
Occupy movement, now that the gendarmes of the status quo
have wielded their truncheons and rolled up the encampments
like so many windowshades.

Nightly reports by the "mainstream" news media about Occupy
actions all across the country have dwindled to almost nil, and
for those so disposed, this is a good thing.

The roused rabble have been crushed and scattered, and all this talk
of inequality and justice can finally be replaced with what has for so
long now been the real American anthem: everything is fine, nothing
to see here, your betters are in control, go back to work.

The uprising has been quelled, it would seem, and it is time to
consign the Occupy movement to the dustbin of history. Nothing,
but nothing, but nothing, could be further from the truth.

This is not over. Not by a long, long chalk. It is not over because
the American conversation has been irrevocably altered in ways
both subtle and sublime.

For those predisposed to rocking the boat, the Occupy movement
has provided an opportunity to give voice to the overarching sense
that matters in America have gone horribly wrong: uncounted
thousands dead in a war of choice that provided a wonderful
opportunity for the transfer of hundreds of billions of taxpayer
dollars into the bloated coffers of "defense" contractors with friends
in high places; billions more stolen in broad daylight by Wall Street
gangsters; billions more given back by way of "bailouts" - read:
socialism - to these same gangsters thanks to the aforementioned
high-placed friends; no jobs, and no jobs, and no jobs, because it
is more important to score political points than it is to ease the
suffering of millions.

For those not immediately predisposed to boat-rocking - the fathers who lay awake at night worrying about mortgage payments, the mothers with sick children who live in terror of the mailman bringing more medical bills, the retail workers making a shamefully substandard minimum wage who are holding on by their fingernails - such highblown talk has always been drowned out by the necessities and requirements of the immediate present.

Who has time to camp out in Zuccotti Park when there are bills to pay, mouths to feed and time-cards to punch?

And yet...and yet...

And yet those same hard-working over-burdened Americans who
have been thus far unable to take up the Occupy banner - who, in
many instances, dismiss the whole thing with a contemptuous "Get
a job, hippie" - are the same Americans who have had a bug put in
their ear, and the buzzing of that bug will not go away.

Four months of national dialogue about fair taxation, burden-sharing
and the overwhelming power of the corporate state have done their
work, and done it well.

The conversation in America about wealth and power has been
redirected: instead of blindly worshipping the power and prestige
of these Sheriffs of Nottingham, who drink the sweat and blood of
the toilers for their sustenance and entertainment, a great many
people have been made to remember Robin Hood, and what the
genuine definition of fairness, equality and patriotism really is.

The story of America on the eve of this new year can be summed
up by the old tale of the two donkeys who meet on the road.

The first donkey is fresh as a daisy, unencumbered, brushed and
bright-eyed. The second donkey is tired and broken, sad-eyed and
swaybacked from the monstrous burden he carries.

The first donkey looks at the second donkey and says, "Boy, that's
quite a load you're carrying." The second donkey looks at the first
donkey in exhausted confusion and replies, "What load?"

Get it?

The second donkey had been carrying his burden for so long that he
no longer even realizes it is there, though his back breaks from the

For generations now, that has been the sorry lot of the 99%, but it
will not be so in 2012; after carrying the load for so long that they
didn't even see it anymore - a fact that suits the 1% right down to
the ground, mind you - a vast majority of Americans have finally
looked up from their fruitless toiling, seen the unfair and over-
burdensome load they carry, and recognized the fundamental
injustice that has left them as beaten and swaybacked as that
donkey on the road.

Occupy is not over.

We come now to another winter of our discontent, and though
the tents and signs and shouts of the movement have been
momentarily subdued, they will return.

Spring is coming, the rocks are already rolling down the
mountainside and while there is still time for the pebbles
to catch up, gravity is an absolute.

Sooner or later, those rocks will reach the reckoning that has been
so long in coming, and when that happens, nothing in this country
will be the same again.

With Spring comes the rain, and the rain is coming to this dry and
thirsty land.

The rain is coming.

By God and sonny Jesus, the rain is coming.

William Rivers Pitt is a Truthout editor and columnist. He is also a
New York Times and internationally bestselling author who lives and
works in Boston.

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