This is my personal answer.
It is a symptom of a sick system. It is a growing community of informed and educated people who are no longer willing to be complacent in the face of blatant injustice and abuse of the people of this nation. We have spent years feeling alone, overwhelmed and powerless to bring change. Now we look around and can see we are not alone and we have people to talk about solutions with. We don’t have all the solutions yet, but we are starting a discussion. That is where brilliant ideas are born.
In short order: It is like a game of musical chairs. We don’t have enough chairs for everyone, but we have enough for everyone to design a workable rotation in which everyone will have an adequate time to sit. And we go along harmoniously and cooperatively. Until this 1 asshole comes along and decides he wants his own chair (because he’s smart/strong enough to take it and keep it). So he does. People are angry, at first, but then they just continue on, each person taking a bit less time on a chair. But that 1 asshole decides he actually wants another chair, because he is smart/strong enough to take it and people clearly want them, so he now has power. More chairs, more power. So he slowly takes more. And a few people join him when they see how successful he is and how no one is fighting him on it. Suddenly everyone looks around and realize we’ve lost a lot of chairs and it’s getting a bit more tiring only having a few minutes to sit. We start getting bitter and more aggressive with each other, the harmony begins to break down. Sitting over on a pile of unused chairs sit the asshole grinning. We go running, what can we do for a chair? Well, how about you make me lunch? Then I’ll let you have a sit. So on and so forth. Until a few people noticed that this system really sucked too. So they start demanding their chairs back and the system to be righted again and for that asshole to face some accountability for being so damn greedy and power hungry at the cost of everyone else.
We have a growing number of grievances in America. Why? Because our government/economy is sick. They may be broad, but this sickness has touched many parts of our lives. We are not experts, we are not politicians, we are the People, and we’re waking up to a growing problem. We are occupying because we have lost respect for and faith in our legal and governmental systems to adequately represent us. We feel our votes are wasted, lobbying and letters ignored. Why? Because what power of voice does one man have against a corporation given personhood, an amoral corporate bank that is designed/motivated solely by profit? We have a system that allows those chair stealing assholes to continue to amass things at the People’s expense. These people have abused loopholes and common people’s ignorance, bribed and lobbied government with millions in order to have laws removed or passed in their favor, taken ownership of what we watch, what we eat, what artists we like, etc. in order to amass more and more profit using people and animals and our environment to an unconscionable level. Their profit-driven schemes have pushed down the standard of living, left wages stagnant, promote planned obsolescence/war/fear/manipulation tactics of money, supply, demand, etc. And they keep doing it because corporations are raking it in by moving things overseas where they have no civil rights to protect wage enslaved children, by scaring us, by making us feel desperate and unwilling to speak up for fear of losing what little we have, by making us feel like we NEED something to survive or be happy, by pumping us with unnecessary drugs, by taking advantage of our desire to trust expert knowledge (do YOU know how complicated derivatives work? Do you know what is in the food you eat? I don’t, I just accept that someone out there is protecting me against some profit driven scheme that places a dangerous preservative in my food). Education is no longer a viable investment as most graduates can’t pay their loans for lack of jobs/enough salary. A huge portion of our population doesn’t have access to medical care, they are literally turned away. Another segment PAYS a lofty sum for insurance and then still foots most of the ridiculous bill.
We join a social contract in our society. We pay taxes and control ourselves in exchange for protection from threats to our way of life. The government we have entrusted and empowered to protect us has been literally heisted by elite corporate monopolies - turning us into cogs in their working machines.
We have so many checks, balances, caps and regulations in our constitution and government to protect against the very concentration of power we are seeing today. By deregulating corporations, we opened up a new, evolved method of control and power concentration. This dangerous amassing of power is used against the People - by buying politicians through “contributions”, promises of jobs, lobbying money, etc., or by using their affluence to BECOME a politician. Once in power or having a politician in their pocket, they can actively seek to promote or shut down any law that serves their end goal, even at the cost of human livelihood, environment, or sustainability.
These are the people we “choose” to “represent” our voices and needs in government.
One of the primary weapons being used against us is our ignorance. Lies spun as patriotic propaganda, media, banks, and govt telling people to be proud of their austerity (ironically as they roll in their own luxury). I mean, just step back and think about what we eat, see, hear (EVERYTHING IS TOUCHED BY ADS), where we work, our freedom at work, how free we actually feel at home to do what we want.
People profit off of other people’s foreclosures and failures. It is more profitable to take business OUT of the country. It is more profitable NOT to find cures to diseases. It is more profitable to “create jobs” by going to war, than to seek innovative solutions to problems that sap our resources, e.g. innovate for green energy or building community/education for our people.
People don’t like looking at the dirty people in the park, but they are people, who are dirty, sat in a park because they are so desperate for change. To think, that a tent city is a safer, judgement-free place for a homeless person to seek food, medical help, and companionship than in our “civilized” society. Thus, the sanitation problems, the crime, the homeless mecca that many occupations have become is not reflective of a devolution of our movement, but rather a MORE VISIBLE display of the existing sickness NO ONE WANTS TO SEE in this country. Well, now people are seeing it. You don’t like it? Help us change it!
And those of us not as destitute, we are privileged enough to know what being thankful means, but aware enough to see that things NEED to change, because not all of us are so lucky. And at the end of the day, after we all talk about hard work and being good people, that isn’t what decides who is taken care of is it? Innocent children wouldn’t be suffering every day if that were true. No, it is largely luck of the draw. Some people just aren’t able (physically, mentally, emotionally) to be “successful”. That’s a reality. Now the question is, do we come together as an evolved species and build a community that recognizes that everyone deserves equal access to things, even if we do not have equal abilities or circumstances, or do we ignore that problem? The people supporting the Occupy Movement are tired of ignoring those problems and being complacent in the face of so much injustice (especially after being bred on ideals of fairness, equality, freedom and pursuit of happiness).
A perfect highlight of this ridiculousness we’ve created, is that there are thousands of houses that sit empty and foreclosed while thousands of human beings are living out this winter in the cold. At the very root of it, it is absurd and makes you question what our system really serves. People? Really?
So maybe we have to make some compromises and sacrifices. We make them every day through structure, hierarchies, politeness and following rules and laws. We control so many of our thoughts and actions at work for fear of being fired. We already are willing to compromise certain of our luxuries - I’m not willing to work 70 hours/week, I’m willing to give up having a car let alone a boat. We all make those decisions, compromises and sacrifices when it comes to ourselves, our families, and our communities. It will not hurt people to make a few more in the name of compassion and fairness. We have become such an individualistic society. If we look at history, the majority of problems occur due to extremism - black and white mentalities. Go so far toward collectivism that we lose freedom and individuality. Go so far toward individualism, that we lose community, harmony and equality. A balance is the symbol of fairness and justice for a reason. We MUST find this balance again.
So that is why we occupy – to create a visible presence. To create a medium for discussion. To give people a voice we feel we no longer have in a government that is failing to represent or protect us. We do not ask anyone to share the same grievances or do the same things to show support. We do ask people to try to better educate themselves, ask questions, and join in on the discussion. We need solutions, we need your solidarity, we need your help.