My story is somewhat different than most Americans. I have lived outside of the United States for the last sixteen years. I’ve lived in Korea, Vietnam and Europe. Having spent so much time outside of the country, I have been able to see how other people live, how other countries function, how their legal systems work, how their societies operate. Coming back to the United States last fall, my reaction upon return was one of absolute shock. I had just moved back from a communist country (Vietnam), and the level of oppression here, the level of unemployment, the level of government corruption is the worst that I’ve seen in all my experiences in any country I’ve lived in. Occupy Wall Street wasn’t so much a planned choice as it was a welcome alternative to the way the rest of society had been operating. I heard about it in the newspaper. I returned on September 11, and Occupy began on September 17, at the end of my first week back. I arrived on the 18th.
I hear through email around the country from people who thank me for doing what I’m doing, who thank everybody for doing what we’re all doing. It’s important because our government, our elected officials and our mainstream media are not talking about what the American people want to talk about. That’s where we are. That’s the most important thing.
What kind of world do I hope this will help bring about? That’s a large question, and it’s a large world. Many times I have told students, “You cannot write a report about the world. You need to focus a little more.” We need to focus here on what we are doing. We need to focus on the United States. Hopefully, if we lead by example, that can help people around the world. One comment that many of us have heard from many Europeans, people in Egypt, people in other countries who were protesting long before the United States, they said, “What took you so long?” Finally, we’re on it. I think America has an excellent track record. Once they figure out what they want to do, they get it done in spades. I hope we are able to bring things back to honesty, accountability and fairness for all people. Right now, the United States is not the country that our constitution envisioned. We need to work very, very, very hard to start stirring things back in that direction.