- I am grateful for my friends. My sanity, my strength, my joy–I am where I am because of you.
- I am grateful for my family. I am fortunate that the people I was born into love me and look out for me. A mother who has been the model of unconditional love and maternal sacrifice, a sister who has been my biggest cheerleader, a brother who somehow manages to look up to me despite my screw-ups (and who has been taller than me most of our lives), and a brother to whom (I am confident) I will one day be restored.
- I am grateful for the state of Minnesota. I may pick on you for your (in my view) weird culture sometimes, but so many of the good things in my life have come as a direct result of living here. Whether the grad-school gods keep me here or take me elsewhere, this great place will always occupy a sizable part of my heart. Donchano.
- I am grateful that I am always warm and well-fed. Three-and-a-half years ago, I was dangerously close to becoming homeless. A bit of determination and a lot of luck kept me from that fate. There are few things I want more than to save every man, woman, and child across the world from that same fate. I work for a world where we will do that. And I remember every day that I am fortunate to have what I have.
- I am grateful for music. It is my heartbeat, almost literally, as there is always a song in my head. I am grateful that I know how to sing and can play a few musical instruments, so that, in my awkward little way, I can share this most wonderful of human creations.
- I am grateful for art. I am grateful for the artists who train and work tirelessly, often with little real reward, to share the most intimate parts of their minds and hearts with the world.
- I am grateful for literature. I am grateful for every book that is on my shelf and the million more that are not. I marvel at the infinite power of the written word, and am humbled by the fact that I’ve had a little bit of training to wield this tool.
- I am grateful for every second I have to be alive.
Occupy Wall Street began modestly enough, a couple hundred seemingly homogeneous folks gathering to protest in the largest city in the United States. As such, it needn’t gather much more news coverage than a curiosity, perhaps buried in “news of the weird”. Yet, though in one month’s time, the protest has swollen to thousands, as its message and mission has grown more focussed, as it has carried out clear and positive actions (such as the demonstration that successfully averted some foreclosures), one would think from the amount and nature of mainstream media coverage of the movement that Occupy Wall Street remains entirely a small gaggle of unfocussed, vaguely angry “young people”–a myth.
The internet, though, isn’t (wholly) mainstream media. What is interesting, though, is that one need not look far online to find this same unanalysed and untrue trope–of “lazy”, misguided youth, small in number and devoid of real purpose–perpetuated in comment sections across the web. I personally believe that this is the direct result of the message that the mainstream media have perpetuated since the beginning, as one sees the same eerily similar phrasings repeated over and over. The mainstream media established the meme of the “spoilt young middle-class rabble-rousers”, and so it has perpetuated through repetition.
It makes sense, though. The mainstream media are owned by the same corporations that the protesters stand against–and if there is one enemy the protesters consider to have in common, it is corporations. Through consolidation and buyouts over the years, the power to disseminate news has concentrated itself into fewer and fewer hands, leaving the news we get every day more and more “corporate”–even as the internet, smart phones, etc have placed the power to spread news in more and more hands. The mainstream media outlets, quite simply, are not going to bite the hands that feed them by relating news stories that stand against their own self-interest.
This, however, is nothing new. The myth that news media are, or should be, “objective” is taught from childhood. But, first off, human beings are not by nature fully objective entities. We are a conflated, confused mishmash of beliefs, principles, and goals, and there is no real way around it. I think also of times past when the media would go to absurd lengths to promote its own economic well-being. At the turn of the twentieth century, it was not uncommon for a major city newspaper to print up a made-up story of, say, an elephant escaping the zoo and rampaging the city, causing panic and, yes, increased newspaper sales. The fact that the last paragraph would read, “The preceding was a complete work of fiction” did nothing to keep people from spreading the rumour of the escaped elephant that they knew their cousin’s cousin saw yesterday–after all, aren’t we taught in school that, when writing news, you put the least important information at the end?
The mainstream media are putting Occupy Wall Street in the last paragraph, hoping that, if we ignore it, we will keep believing them and buying their products.