by Carol Benedict

Ihave long believed the saying, “Societies are best judged by how they treat their most vulnerable.” And I also believe that right now, we are not doing a very good job with that.

So it came as no shock when Occupy began, that I would immerse myself in the overwhelming work of it all. At first, we all wanted change to be immediate. We wanted the media to listen to our grievances, not ask what we wanted so we would go away. We wanted to instill in the public an awareness of what is going on around them; that our government has failed us, that our democracy is crumbling and that legislation supports the perpetuation of income inequality and the corporate state.

Occupy did bring changes to the national conversation. The American population is more aware of the 99% versus the 1% than ever before. We are more outraged by the continued conduct of huge corporations, Wall Street bankers and hedge fund managers stealing from the nation and paying our elected officials through lobbies for the continued rights to do so. The legalized bribery is as appalling as our treatment of our nation’s most vulnerable.

Today I am sometimes asked why I am still involved in Occupy. Many have gone to other causes or disappeared completely. “I thought Occupy was over…,” they ponder. If given the time, this is what I try to get them to understand:

The groups I meet with are all people with like minds. Each of them has become a personal friend as well as a brother or sister in this movement. I am inspired by the lives these friends have shared with the group, each one enriching the fabric that weaves us together.

We do not know if our little group will ever begin an action that results in national attention and actual change for any one of the multitude of pressing issues we see our society facing. But we also know that every successful movement started small—first with an individual, then with like-minded supporters. We know we cannot hope to change the future if we do not challenge the present.

We look for ways to help our neighbors, our friends, our local communities, our state and our nation. We are not guided by being exclusionary, but by finding similar values with others in our society. We know we will not always agree with others, but we know we can find common ground on which to stand together.

We Occupy our minds and our consciousness with the social injustice brought when laws and legislation favor the 1%.

We Occupy a planet we see being destroyed by human foolishness and greed, taking the air, water, and eco-balances throughout the natural world into perilous chaos.

We Occupy the conversation with those who will listen to achieve public awareness, through which public outcry can bring results.

We Occupy the phone lines and social media when we see blatant examples of disregard for the least fortunate among us.

We Occupy press conferences, hearings, rallies, and public demonstrations. We write letters, place phone calls, erect posters, and do banner drops. We do not become discouraged; we are entrenched in our resolve.

We will Occupy until our government recognizes that it is the 99% that is too big to fail, that there is no end to our mission to Return Government to We The People. Until then, we remain Occupied.

This is why I sign my emails: “Always Occupied.”