Posted by: ritagone | December 7, 2011

“Occupy” This

One of the things I learned as a child was to clean up my own messes.

Apparently the people who “occupied” Los Angeles a while back didn’t get that lesson.

What they left behind when they were evacuated from the park across from L.A.’s City Hall area was an incredible 30 tons of debris, detritus and just plain junk that had to be cleaned up at taxpayer expense, taken to local landfills and done away with.  Not that any of those “rebels” cared, I suspect, because that is the nature of rebellion.  Do your thing and the devil take the mess you leave behind.  Not to mention the CDs, mattresses, books, and hygienic products you also didn’t bother to take with you.

Sorry, call me an old fuddy duddy, but it makes me mad.  I guess my mother’s teaching stuck with me more than I realized.

I can understand that in a violent revolution of the Russian or French ilk the participants aren’t going to care about cleaning up after themselves.  It just doesn’t fit the protocol, after all, of revolutionaries out picking up their trash after a night storming the government buildings, massacring the enemy and then taking over the Parliament or the Bastille.  But Occupy Los Angeles was supposed to be a peaceful protest.  That was its claim to fame, its higher ground, if you will.  They are supposed to represent the “1,” the small percentage of those who are underprivileged, who miss out on the benefits that capitalist society bestows upon the “99” who are reaping those riches.

One bystander who watched men in hazmat suits (as a precaution) remove the debris commented: “It’s a shame how I see trash all around here.”  He pointed to his head. “People don’t understand that the freedom starts here in your mind.” You got that right, Buddy.  It’s easy to picket and protest for freedom and equality when you can make a mess and then walk away from it without a concern as to who will clean it up.

I guess it’s a hot button issue with me because there are so many people around us who do the same thing in so many ways: cause chaos in one way or another and then walk away leaving others to come along with a mop and a broom and a bandaid or splint.  My husband worked with a man for 25 years who was such a nightmare, so I witnessed firsthand (well, maybe secondhand) how damaging it can be, how frustrating, how tiring, and how it just saps the very life out of you.  This was a guy who couldn’t get out of his own way but had no idea how much damage he was capable of inflicting.  And isn’t that always the case?  Instead, they rely on others to sweep up after them because someone has always done that very thing for them, whether it’s a mother or a friend or a business associate who does it because not to do it jeopardizes his own career.  Eventually he self-destructed to the point that no one could help him, and my husband went his own way.  That was one of the happiest days of my life.

It’s easy to help someone when they’re willing to stay there and work alongside you, when they can look you in the eye and admit they need that help.  It’s much more difficult when they turn a blind eye, admit no responsibility, and just assume that someone else will fix things.  The Occupy L.A. people en masse were such protesters, and for their behavior – not for their ideas or their desire to be non-violent – I have no respect.

You see, what we do – what all of us, any of us – do, says so much, so loudly, that whatever it is we’re trying to say often can’t be heard when we damage the message because of the stupidity or arrogance of our actions.

I have read reports that other Occupy protest groups left public bathrooms trashed, public parks devastated, so that it seems that whatever they came into contact with was not made better but left in such disrepair that it will take hours and hours of manpower and many thousands of dollars that certainly could have gone to much better uses.  If these protesters are so interested in the public welfare, it sure didn’t show in their lack of care for facilities that the public – the 99% they claim to be a part of – uses and takes advantage of.

Okay, I’ve had my rant.  No public facilities were defaced or harmed in my own protests.  Nothing had to be cleaned up after me.  I played my own iPod while writing this, which I bought with my own hard-earned money.  (Okay, my husband’s hard-earned money, who I supported by doing his laundry and bearing his children and cleaning his house.  Okay, not cleaning his house myself exactly, but supervising the lady who came every week to clean his house.  But you get the picture.)  I’m sure I paid for the computer I wrote this on, because I made a big deal of doing so out of my household account.

So there, Occupy protesters!  Learn to be a little more self-reliant and a lot more responsible before you go around telling the rest of the world how they are supposed to behave.

And for Pete’s sake, at the very least commit to picking up your own trash in the future, won’t you?


  1. I kept thinking “what if the occupiers decided to call attention to their cause by doing good?” I wondered what groundswell of positive attention would happen if they decided to look around them and see what actions would be beneficial to society. I figured they’d get support from City Hall rather than criticism. I’m sure City Hall would have loved providing trash bags, etc. to them if they want to pick up litter, etc. Some new leaders would emerge out of it, new organizations, donations and maybe even some new jobs.

    The “occupy” movement totally failed. No one wants anything to do with them and it did cost plenty to clean up their mess.

    • We’ll never know how things could have been different had they behaved differently, will we? Unfortunately they felt entitled to behave badly, which is always the case with groups like this. You’re very right, Sheryl. And it’s all very, very sad. Thanks for commenting.

  2. Amen to that Rita!!!

  3. Yay Rita! I especially appreciated your explanation of how you paid for stuff! lol.
    But I believe the protesters say THEY are the 99%, and the RICH are the 1%, not the other way around. That’s why they feel so free in destroying things! They feel they have a “right” to have what they want…They DESERVE things just because they breathe,and they are in the majority, supposedly. ( or supposably as some of our friends are known to say)

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