We have heard praise regarding the improvement and development of downtown Oklahoma City. With cranes within view of almost every window downtown, and new roadblocks popping up daily, the morning commute is becoming a game of labyrinth with David Bowie laughing as we try to find our parking spot.
While those of us that call downtown our work home recognize the positive future these current headaches will bring, there has been a somewhat quiet but unappealing sector of development downtown: the tent city that has sprung up in the middle of Kerr Park.
Now Im not one to infringe on anyones right to free speech and peaceful protest; I mean, Ive got friends that are occupiers. However, when youre not really saying anything other than, Hey man, look at my red tent, I dont really understand what your intended political statement is. If MSNBC wasnt telling me what you are trying to accomplish, I wouldnt know why there seems to be a monthlong music festival (with no music) outside my office window; and I walk by your encampment every day.
What is the endgame? No one has been able to tell me, including Chris Matthews. Whatever the intent, the time has come to go home, get a job and contribute. If you havent figured out yet why those people in the buildings around you seem to be looking with the inquisitive stare of a child gazing through the bars at the zoo, it is because your protest is just as curious as an elephant swatting flies. You have no objective end goal. When the sit-in protests of the 1960s occurred, they were sitting where they werent supposed to, which had a recognizable purpose. You have a permit.
And if your argument is simply that youre trying to protest capitalism, the irony isnt lost on any of us: Youre squatting in a park named after one of our states great capitalists. You see, the guy whose name is on your tent park was born in a log cabin and didnt come from much. He busted his tail to build something, and when he had to drop out of law school because he couldnt afford it, he didnt ask the government for a subsidy. He made his own and built a business. And yes, he wasnt perfect and had his faults; however, the lesson should be learned that the worst job in the world is one that is simply given to you.
Occupiers without an endgame are simply squatters. Youre never going to give yourself an opportunity for upward mobility camped out in a tent in Kerr Park. Youll give yourself an opportunity by camping out in front of a computer working to build and create. If you cant get a job, create one. Sell Amway products, or Mary Kay for crying out loud, whatever it takes. Otherwise, youre simply a bum, a blight on our community and a weight on our economy.
Occupiers, get out of our way if youre not willing to join the 99 percent of the 99 percent who are working to make a better future for ourselves, our families and our community. And by the way, be careful in the coming days because that building to your west is about to come crumbling down around you in the name of capitalistic progress. Maybe its time the tents came down, as well, and you all got back to work.
Smith is an attorney living in Oklahoma City.