One of the first things I noticed were large chalk drawings on the sidewalks, each one illustrating either some disturbing aspect of contemporary American life or more hopeful suggestions for positive change.
A large and somewhat unsettling drawing caught my eye. Below the scrawled letters “Dying for Education,” was the image of corpse, dead eyes staring blankly skyward, a bullet wound in his chest. Above the “Dying for Education" sign were multiple portraits of young soldiers, all bloodied and blinded.
Everyone knows that too many young Americans who cannot afford to pay the expensive tuition now demanded by public Universities join the military, believing they will avoid the suffocating burden of loans assumed by fellow students and that their tuition will be paid when and if they leave the battlefields alive. Sadly, too many die before they attend their first class, and those who survive are, as the drawing suggests, so badly wounded emotionally and physically that education can no longer serve as the lifeboat they once imagined it might be.
Education should not be so expensive that students must either go to war or into deep debt to pay for it. If the federal government were to subsidize education, not war, then without becoming enslaved to war or debt, American students might gain the knowledge needed to contribute positively to a peaceful and productive future.
Relief. Recovery. Reform.
Forgiving student loans would both provide Relief and Recovery. Two locks freed with one key. Millions of recent and long past graduates are currently saddled with student loans greater than most mortgages, and that overwhelming debt prevents them from starting business, buying houses or cars. To forgive those loans would provide immediate relief, and as these citizens would then have more disposable income, such forgiveness would immediately contribute to needed economic recovery. Money previously paid only to banks to cover exorbitant interest on crushing debt would become available to be spent in the community.
Banks were bailed out; bail out students. No one should have to risk death to gain an education, and there is no question that a strong nation needs its people educated.
It doesn't take a genius to notice that Reform of institutional and corporate worlds is necessary if we are to relieve the suffering of the unemployed and the underemployed and recover our democracy. The time has come for US citizens to stand together and demand accountability for the military industrial complex. This drawing, pictured at the right, reminds us of just how much we have let slide. Blackwater, a shadow army created by the Bush Administration, operating both abroad and here on US soil, is representative of the dangerous continued privatization of institutions that in a democracy should remain accountable, regulated and public. We know of Blackwater's activities in Iraq, but many do not know that heavily armed Blackwater mercenaries zoomed about New Orleans after Katrina, looking for 'criminals,' answering to no elected or appointed agency of the law. We do not need private mercenary armies occupying our country. We, the citizens, we the people, must occupy our communities, our land, our democracy.
After the swelling crowd of peaceful walkers turned up Clay St, I was allowed to move my car and did. Later that evening, long after dark, I was checking the local news and discovered that earlier around noon the 91st homicide of the year had happened only blocks from my house. Again, a 20-year-old man was shot dead, this time on 11th St at Willow.
Vigilantes with guns are always egregious and dangerous.
Rest in Peace, Occupy your Dreams.