Letter to the Editor
Appeared in Jackson Hole News&Guide
December 7, 2011
Occupy Jackson Hole
As a member of Occupy Jackson Hole, I’d like to clear something up about our group.
There is a perception that we don’t have jobs and that we’re just looking for handouts or welfare. Last Saturday, for example, while protesting on a street corner, a girl who looked about 12 yelled “Get a job!” from the passenger seat of a passing truck. And this really stuck with me for a lot of reasons. What kind of parent teaches their child to do things like that? Why would anyone assume that a person protesting on a Saturday doesn’t have a job?
And do we really believe the unemployed have no right to be heard, anyway?
I consider myself lucky. I make a decent living. I live in paradise. I realize this. In fact, most of the issues I’m concerned with don’t affect me directly. But ignoring widespread injustice and suffering because I’m not affected seems to me a pathetic way to go about living.
When I see someone give me the finger while I’m on the street, or hear someone tell me to get a job, I know they are really trying to say, “I got mine, and that’s all I care about. Stop making me uncomfortable. I don’t want to be reminded of injustice, because I would rather pretend that everything is ok. You’re making it hard for me to sustain this belief, which allows me to remain comfortably ignorant, and because of that, I’m angry. I don’t have any rational response to your protest, so I can’t engage you in a dialogue. I will, however, make angry and obscene gestures towards you, or make jokes about Occupiers that will reveal my ignorance and callousness, or instruct my child to accuse you – who are standing on a street corner on your day off in order to protest injustice – of being lazy.”
Having said that, I want to thank all those who’ve stopped to talk, who’ve honked their horns, who’ve dropped off coffee, and who have supported us. You are many, and you’ve made a difference. To those that are thinking about joining us, I want to say: You will not be disappointed. This is quite literally the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. It turns out there is a lot more to life than making one more powder turn.