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How Many Staneks

Updated on May 19, 2012

Live From The Midtown Scholar. . .

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Standing In Silence?

On May 17th, 2012, I took in a production of Protest a one-act play by the late Czech playwright Vaclav Havel.

The play is a simple, two-character piece. Stanek invites his friend Vanek, a dissident, to meet with him. As the conversation unfolds, we find that the meeting is not purely social. A musician, member of an opposition party, and the father of Stanek's future Grandchild, has been imprisioned by the government. Stanek wishes Vanek to start a petition for the musician's release. Vanek is already on the case, and presents Stanek with a petition! Vanek suggests that the petition might have some weight if Stanek signs.

Stanek then, in a soliquy, explains why he can't. It boils down to the fact that there's too much at stake, he stands to lose too much. He will be associated with "them".

I wonder how many people in America are like Stanek, especially in regards to the "Occupy" movement. I am sure many Americans share the "%99" belief that corporations, their CEOs and the wealthy have too much political power. They read about corporations claiming record profits, while they lay off their employees. They hear about the model legislation from ALEC. They see the growing number of people in poverty.

So why don't they take their place in solidarity with the workers of Wisconsin, and Ohio? Many may see the Occupiers as proxies of sorts; "They are standing up for me," they think.

But many more may be like Stanek; afraid to be associated with a ,movement that is presented as mainly younger people. They dress in funny clothes, some look like 1960's 'hippies', others look like 'punks' with tattoos and piercings, and some even wear masks to hide their faces. Who is going to want to be linked to folks like that. What will the boss, the pastor, or the folks on the bowling team say?

What if the media focused on the movement as a whole? If the media interviewed the soldiers, the mothers. and the guy in the khaki pants and FiveFingers. Would more people be willing to speak power to the truth?


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    • Dr Billy Kidd profile image

      Dr Billy Kidd 5 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Great post and good question. I think that in the U.S. the majority of people simply are too apathetic to even get to the idea of supporting a resistance movement. So, for most folks, the question is moot--they can't even imagine a situation where they would do anything but maybe complain about not getting paid enough--but never at work, becaue they wouldn't want to get fired. Actually, two thirds of the folks would take a 15% pay cut just to keep their jobs.

    • TeaPartyCrasher profile image

      TeaPartyCrasher 5 years ago from Camp Hill, PA

      And I will admit that is a problem I see with the "Occupy" movement. They seem unwilling to form into a political force, mainly because the see the system stacked against them. In many way's they're right that the deck is stacked towards the "%1", it's a matter of "evening the odds"--IMO

    • Jed Fisher profile image

      Jed Fisher 5 years ago from Oklahoma

      This is America. Protests mean nothing. We vote. That's how it's done.