how to protest :: a guide for OCCUPIERS

how to protest :: a guide for OCCUPIERS 1Throughout history, there have been times to stand up for a good cause. To congregate for the betterment of society. To give voice to the voiceless. To put aside self and make sacrifices in order to protect the current and future generations.

The OCCUPY movement is not one of them.

Following please find some basic principles for those who would seek to protest the 1%.

If you want to protest debt, carefully consider if you ought to take out loans in the first place. If the perceived benefit outweighs the risks, take the lowest amount possible and work doggedly to pay them off quickly.

If you want to protest steeping tuition costs, carefully consider if you ought to go to college in the first place. Perhaps it might be better to start your own company or to intern in a trade. Perhaps you may want to choose a state university or pursue a job alongside your studies. Whatever your choice, be diligent about learning. Work hard.

If you want to protest the poor economy, do contribute to the economy.


  • Exercise your right to vote.
  • Write, call, tweet, and otherwise engage with your political representatives.
  • Think about running for political office or other leadership positions.
  • Teach your children how to manage money, how to live with less, and how to love others.
  • Protest debt by living debt-free.
  • Show kindness to your fellow man.
Don't - for goodness sake, don't - pitch a tent in a public park and take advantage of public resources. Don't burden our police forces, non-profit organizations, and financial institutions. Don't sign a pledge refusing to pay the debt that you promised to pay back in the first place.

There are many ways to protest, but the best protests of all begin with wisdom, responsibility, a posture of humility, and a clear purpose.

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22 comments on “how to protest :: a guide for OCCUPIERS”

  1. I know I'm late to the party but I'm just catching up on my reading. What a a great post - you said in a few articulate, well thought out lines what so many of us have struggled to say for the past few weeks...especially here in least for me....
    Thank you for being a voice of reason - and for sharing it with us!

  2. It's funny though. Whenever there are uprisings in foreign countries protesting dictatorships, we don't talk about whether the protesters are on public property. Did anyone worry about whether the protesters in Egypt were on public property?

    I thought public property was for the public.

    1. True, but perhaps public property isn't meant to be LIVED on? Certainly, I support the right for groups to peacefully assemble to voice their opinion, express a concern, or rally for a cause. But I can't get behind the way that the OCCUPY movement is choosing to protest - setting up camp in places with clear ordinances against such practices.

      Thanks so much for contributing your comment to this discussion.

  3. Oh Stephanie, yes - I think the key things about the Occupy protest that bother me are the missing elements you mention in the last paragraph - a clear purpose, responsibility, a posture of humility. We are by no means close to being "the 1%" but we choose to live within our means, without accumulating debt and are content with love and our family and those around us. We save before we make a major purchase, we don't use credit cards, we do save, tithe, and give to others - it's our own quiet way of showing our corner of the world how we think everyone should live.

  4. It is so refreshing to hear this view! My husband and I are definitely not in the 1%, but we are happy with what we have and we work hard and make smart choices to live a lifestyle that is satisfying to us.

    I think your recommendation about going to college is spot-on. I realize that some careers do require a college degree, but that doesn't mean a person has to go directly from high school to college to grad school without taking a short break to work and save up some money. Also, I believe people need to seriously consider what career options are available for their particular major and what their first year salary would be before taking out a tremendous amount of student loan debt.

    I think what turns me off the most about the Occupy movement is the way they choose to behave and their attitude of entitlement. Just because someone makes more money than I do, for example, does not mean I am entitled to a portion of his or her money.

    1. YES. THIS: "I believe people need to seriously consider what career options are available for their particular major and what their first year salary would be before taking out a tremendous amount of student loan debt."

  5. I heartily agree with EVERYTHING you said! Is there even one attainable outcome that has been expressed as a goal of this "movement"? What exactly are the goals? Destroy capitalism as we know it?

    I was afraid to open your post at first when I saw the title. I was afraid it was going to be in sympathy of the senseless time and resources these protestors are wasting -- and finding other ways to do the same. What a relief to hear you voice of reason and comfort that a whole generation hasn't completely lost it's mind.

    1. One thing that seems glaringly missing from OWS is a clear purpose. When the participants are interviewed by the media, their responses are all over the place. They're upset about unemployment, debt, tuition costs, the economy, the corruption, the wealthy, the...everything.

      I support the right to peacefully assemble to promote social change, but I am opposed to using up public resources for undefined reasons.

  6. That was well-written and thoughtful, Stephanie. I appreciate a reasoned voice of dissent to the movement. Gives a lot to think about.

    I'm not sure about the ways to protest the top 1%. For some jobs, you HAVE to go to college. Surgeons, doctors, engineers, a lot of some of the most important jobs in society require a lot of schooling. And the ever strengthening ties between politicians, corporations, and lobbyists is something that isn't changing with the current ways of engaging with political representatives. So I can see where people have come to a point of desperation. When so few people control so much, it creates a feeling of helplessness. And, as we've seen, anger.

    But, your last two paragraphs are spot on. I think the movements- and they're going on worldwide, not just in the U.S.- are creating a lot of discussion, but it seems like there has to be a better way to do that. The current methods of protest don't sit well with me.

    1. Thank you for your sincere compliment and your thoughtful response, Kara. We really do need to meet up for lunch when the next opportunity arises. I noticed that you came to Tucson last weekend - sorry I missed that chance.

      I certainly am not implying that college is a wasteful experience. On the contrary! As you know, I have both a B.A. and M.A. (and learned from both). That said, college is not for everyone and ought to be undertaken with seriousness. It might be best for some to travel, take a job, pursue an internship, go to community college, etc.

      Also - one of the best ways to face corruption head-on is for intelligent, ethical, and humble leaders to arise in politics and business. I'd like to see more of these protestors divert their energy to that.

      1. College definitely isn't for everyone, I absolutely agree there. Teaching college for 6 years now has only confirmed that. It is something that I believe should be widely and fairly readily available however, as I think it's a worthwhile pursuit and there are careers- very important careers- where it's necessary. I have friends who have hesitated in the pursuit of certain medical professions due to expenses, and the world needs good doctors, surgeons and nurses! But the education there is a big expense.

        I also agree that we need to begin electing different leaders, but that too is set up to be a ridiculously difficult process. I would love to see energy spent on changing that though! What a worthwhile venture. I heard an NPR report last week that said the two candidates who will run for president in 2012 need to be raising $35k PER DAY starting last month. That is ridiculous! Also, have you read Lawrence Lessig's "Republic, Lost?" I've just started it, but it's a fascinating look at the culture in Washington, why incumbents basically always get elected and even the offices that change don't really change, and then- even better- some ideas for solutions! I'm liking them so far. Campaign reform has to be front and center though, it seems.

        I was talking with several friends about this a few nights ago, and one of my friends said, "I agree with a lot of the things they're wanting changed. But what annoys me is that the main argument seems to be 'I should be able to be comfortable' If that's all your goal is in protesting, I just don't see that as very noble." I think that kind of sums up people's discomfort with the movement. I think the lack of a clear message is more because of how disjointed and huge the movement is, so everyone protesting in every city has a different set of issues. But the lack of solutions is troubling. How effective can anything be if there are no proposals for change?

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