I know everyone else has already visited or taken up residence at Occupy Wall Street in Zuccotti Square, but I didn’t make it down there till yesterday. I was surprised by what a small encampment it is. I had assumed there were thousands of people pitching tents. After all, the OWS effect has spread around the world. In fact, however, there are—maybe—a couple hundred people there. It’s a grubby but industrious little enclave. It reminded me of a scene from the civil war: lots of dreaded hair, bare feet, blankets worn as outerwear.
For all its modesty, it’s a remarkable gathering. It has managed to keep its message pure and clean and uncluttered and consistent. And perhaps more exemplary, it has become the community it wants the world to be: it uses sustainable energy like solar and bicycles, provides protective housing for women, embraces all levels of humanity including the long-term homeless, polices itself humanely, engages in spirited debate that leaves no one out. And best of all, it’s still there. Yes, it’s been a mild fall, but no, it’s no picnic sleeping on the ground and living without plumbing. I felt a surge of gratitude to these young people who are making a statement for us all.