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I know there are a lot of us out there. Recent statistics show at least four million US-born folks live outside their native country – the so-called “ex-pats.” I’m one of them (though I’m not sure I’d call myself a patriot, let alone an ex one). I left the States in October 2001, just after my hometown was attacked.
This November I was back in New York and marched with 35,000 others of the 99% across the Brooklyn Bridge, occupied Liberty Plaza (AKA Zuccotti Park), and helped broadcast a bilingual people’s mic for the Women’s March. I got dangerously addicted to the live stream and followed news from Occupy cities across the globe.
But now I’m back in my adopted country and far from what’s happening back in the States. Just like millions of other expats, many of whom I’d guess, like me, were driven to move away (at least in some shape or form), precisely by the same forces against which Occupy stands and shouts and fights and films (keep filming! Keep filming it all!)
So my question is what can we do? What can the 99% living outside the States contribute to the movement?
Here’s what I’m thinking:
1. Spread the word. Use social media – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube – the information is out there. Inform yourself. Share the knowledge. Go to the live feeds and blogs of cities you love and tweet, like, and recommend whatever strikes a chord. Keep the wheel turning.
2. Translate. When I was in New York, the Occupied Wall Street Journal en Español lagged behind the English version for lack of translators. You live abroad – perhaps you speak the language of an immigrant community in your home city back in the States. Consider offering to translate some web pages or content, posters, or flyers.
3. Donate. Many Occupy cities have specific needs lists – in New York it was everything from books (after the People’s Library was trashed by authorities) to plastic bins for storage; in Denver it was winter gear. Visit the web pages, poke around, pony up.
4. Tell your 99% story. I’m 42 and still carrying over $40,000 in student loan debt. In the States, I couldn’t afford healthcare, to pay off my loans, and keep a roof over my head. So I moved to somewhere I could. Maybe you have a similar story. Tell it here.
5. Share your ideas. Maybe you’ve seen effective slogans, campaigns, or direct actions in your adopted country (Bolivia anyone?). Throw your ideas into the ring – go to chat rooms on the live feed or write a manifesto of your own!
6. Vote in local elections, for progressive, social justice candidates (where they exist). This applies only to those still maintaining residency in the States (I know many of you do and this goes for your spouses, too). A corollary to this is that electoral authorities must be compelled to count all ballots in a fair, transparent way.
7. Banking. This is one area, I’m afraid, where expats feed the 1% Hydra daily, incessantly. So much has to be done electronically when you live abroad, it’s hard (impossible?) to wrestle free of the corporate financial chokehold. For this, I have no suggestions, so leave it for future musings.
For now, I urge those of you reading this on screens far from your former home, to not remain mute and immobile. Support the demand for a more just, equitable, and harmonious society. Add your voice to the chorus.
For those of you in Occupy cities around the United States and the world: we are watching, we are with you. Let’s make that more just, equitable, and harmonious global society happen.