Dear Obama, Are YOU Using Your Senses?
December 8, 2011
Recent events, like the Occupy Wall Street movement, have caused me to question my senses and ask myself to what extent can I trust my senses and how do my senses help me see the world. After hearing of the different stories of the Occupy Wall Street protesters, I thought it would be beneficial to give Zuccotti Park, the park in which the protesters inhabited, a visit and experience what the protesters were experiencing first hand. Since I had heard so many different things from my peers that had gone to the park and from different media outlets I was not sure what I was walking into, so all my senses were on high alert, which helped me, take in as much as I could.
Walking into the park was an experience in its self. Looking around the perimeter of the park there where dozens of police officers. As I continued into the park I noticed mini kitchens that I rationalized as being things that the protesters set up in order to make the stay at the park a bit more bearable. I saw plenty of tents and sleeping bags and it suddenly became more real to me that these people where so dedicated to their cause that they were camping outside even as the winter approached and temperatures dropped. Of course no protest is complete with out posters. I saw a variety of posters. Some posters made by people who were apparently fed up with Wall Street because they read, “Eliminate the 1%!” Other posters that I saw came straight from the heart and said, “ I love humanity, lets just figure this shit out together!” Another thing I saw was an abundance of people that included the protesters themselves and other tourist such as myself. Experiencing the different sights at Zuccotti Park was incredible because it was the first protest that I was able to see first hand and it made me realize how dedicated people can be.
In addition to the sights at Zuccotti Park, I was able to hear lots of things as well. I had heard many things from all the different media outlets that frankly made the people at Zuccotti Park seem like they were there to disturb the peace and just be a nuisance but from my experience that’s not what was happening at all. Also, the media failed to give a decent explanation of why it was that these people were protesting, so in my visit to Zuccotti Park I was looking for the opportunity to hear from a protester and get their reasons for protesting. Upon interviewing two different people, I received two slightly different responses, both in which were worthy responses. The woman that I interviewed was there because she finds that the gap between the one percent and the ninety nine percent (the one percent being the rich Americans and the ninety nine percent being all the others) was growing meaning, the rich are getting richer while the poor are getting poorer. She was concerned because she said that if the gap keeps increasing the middle class would decrease. She believes that the middle class is the people who own homes and earn decent living making them the people who shop and help sustain the economy. Her theory was that if the gap gets to a certain point there will be no middle class and therefore the economy will crash. The male in which I interviewed saw things from a slightly different perspective. He was a bit younger, a recent college graduate. He couldn’t understand why it was that he went to college and now he couldn’t fine a decent job. His student loans needed to be paid and how would he pay them without a job, was his concern. He noticed that many of his peers where having trouble in finding jobs as well, so he knew that it was not that he wasn’t qualified. He decided to protest and take a stand.
As for the other senses, touch, smell, and taste, they were not left out. As for touch, I was able to touch and hold up one of the protesters signs. Holding up that sign helped me connect with the protesters on a more personal level because I felt the sense of empowerment that they must feel everyday that they stand up for what they believe in. My sense of smell picked up various things as well. I could smell the food that people where cooking in the kitchens and I could also smell, at times, heavy body order. The body order is understandable because of the fact that these people were sleeping at the park and staying there around the clock. Last but not least my sense of taste, although not being used in my experience, there were people handing out snacks and different foods so taste was also a sense that could have been used.
Now coming back to my original questions, which were, to what extent can I trust my senses and how do my senses help me see the world. In the Zuccotti Park experience, I realized that sense perception is a very important way of knowing, although while using sense perception you also use the other ways of knowing such as language, emotion, and reason. Sense perception helped in giving me a personal opinion and not believing in what it was that everyone else believed in such as the media and some of my peers. Our senses are there for a reason and everyone needs to take full advantage of them because they assistance us in knowing what is going on around us each and everyday.