While Occupy Wall Street is not necessarily tied to the women’s movement (at least, not yet?), it’s always been my thought that the women’s movement, one that has been ongoing for hundreds of years and one that covers countless and specific topics and issues, one that has seen multiple waves and incarnations, one that involves so many people, could use a hefty dose of… something. Activism? Energy? Boldness? I don’t yet know the term, but as an advocate for equality and as an activist, I know that inspiration and passion are the two things that keep an activist focused on that arduous path. Where do you find that inspiration? What keeps us going?
I recently got a dose of inspiration from Dania G., an Egyptian woman who witnessed the January 25th revolution in Egypt firsthand and is now involved in Occupy Wall Street. She articulates below just what inspired her to get involved, and, whether or not you agree with the mission of the Occupy movements that are taking place around the country, I hope Dania’s story will inspire you to keep fighting – no matter what it is you’re fighting for.
When I first arrived to Zuccotti Park, I sat next to a middle-aged man who just arrived to from New Jersey. I asked him what brought him and he boldly confessed that he didn’t know. He said, “it just felt right.” I, too, cannot articulate what brought me here. In fact, I do not want to articulate what brought me here. It is a sense of empathy and solidarity that is bigger than words.
On the 25th of January, when a group of my friends decided to storm Tahrir Square in Cairo, they didn’t know what they wanted. We were frustrated with many things in Egypt, many that fell under the category of inhumanity, but we didn’t have specific demands. The vision was a block of marble that we carved every day until it became the Egyptian Revolution. Having lived the Tahrir Square experience, I observe the same pattern at Zuccotti Park:
- Step One: Groups of people share an overwhelming emotion of urgency and passion for justice. They do not know where it comes from and where it will lead them, but they know that it will be a crime against themselves to ignore it.
- Step Two: People across the country begin to join them. This group of people are usually groups that have the same calling but aren’t sure if they should listen. When they hear that someone spoke up, they are relieved that they are not alone. They are assured that they are not mad.
- Step Three: As the numbers of like-minded people increase, they organize and assemble. They organically form a structured and sophisticated community driven by a passion to thrive and a common belief system in their core despite their diversity and apparent differences. An intense sense of love and selflessness makes everyone eager to contribute. Volunteers, committees, lectures, arts, entertainment, and other activities begin to take place. Meanwhile, the cause is still nothing but an intense emotion that is beyond words.
- Step Four: As organized groups begin to assemble, and knowledge and opinions are exchanged, people begin to articulate the message.
- Step Five: Slowly, as this newly formed community becomes a large family, the vision and cause are echoed and demanded in unity.
At this very moment, Occupy Wall Street is in Step Three. A stage I call the “Adolescent Days of the Revolution.” To me, revolutions are living organisms with life cycles and their energy is constantly reincarnated. It is the force that allows humanity to emotionally evolve. And just like humans, the Adolescent Days of the Revolution are the best days of its life. These are the days of innocence, fearlessness, and openness. These are the days where you form your identity and you demand to be different. I plan to savor these days for as long as they continue. I plan to immerse myself in the love and passion of this movement and nurture it as if it is my child. Tahrir Square restored my faith in Egypt but Occupy Wall Street restored my faith in humanity.
Photo of Diana G. in NY camping at Freedom Plaza