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Occupy movement is nearing its tipping point

The term “tipping point” was first used in the mid-1950s to describe the buildup of marital deterioration beyond which there was no hope of reconciliation. Over the years, the expression has proven useful in describing that precipice for everything from financial corporate downfalls, revolutions, medical deterioration, hopeful business growth, all the way to civil unrest.A street vendor, angry at the lack of personal unfettered opportunity for his small business, sets himself alight in self-immolation suicide and triggers an Arab Spring. A dictator buys one too many possible products for mass destruction and his country reaches a tipping point of trust against which there can only be war or invasion by a superpower. Tipping points usually steal up on you, just when you weren’t expecting real worries. “It’s quiet out there...” “Yeah, too quiet...”The Wall Street protestors thought they could both make a statement and contribute to a tipping point of mass public recognition. Their message? That 1 percent of the population controls 99 percent of the wealth of the country, and that is the same 1 percent the taxpayers bailed out for nothing in return. It was a simple message — perhaps not on a level of self-immolation, but perhaps more like a smoldering fire that may, one day soon, take hold. And when it does, much like the tipping point of the Democratic Convention in Chicago in 1968 when Mayor Daly had his troops beat the living daylights out of anti-war protestors, America may once more find itself torn and its streets full of rioters.Many reading this cannot remember Watts, Detroit, Harlem, D.C. and riots across America. Were these anti-war protests? Nope. They became angry, violent protests, protests against the status quo, against those wielding power seen as corrupt, too powerful and too unfair.So far, here in America, we’ve seen peaceful protests suddenly reaching individual tipping points either by an overly zealous police force or the few always committed to violence to make their point (on both sides). Christmas will come and go, January will settle in and before you know it, much of the public will be faced with the cold of winter, the shortage of food and heat. Survival in those conditions for the disadvantaged will nudge the tipping point more and more. When the first heat of summer breaks, when the gridlock in Congress for political leverage against the will of the people engenders more fury, and when we’re being bombarded by ever-increasing promises and hate-speak during a spiteful election year, then could come the final tipping point many fear for our country — the tipping point to an American blast of hate, violence and riot. Tipping points are not trivial things. They are measurable; you can feel them coming. Like that soldier waiting for the Indian attack in the middle of the night, you just know something will break, you can feel it in your bones. The great pity is our “leaders” and the 1 percent are nowhere near the front lines. It will only be the angry populace and the police sent out to confront them that will carry the burden while the powerful sit and squabble and say “tut, tut.”I think General Patton had it right: Lead from the front if you expect your soldiers to go into battle. Bloomberg should be the one at the front of the police in New York, those Wall Street bankers should be the ones dealing personally with foreclosures and members of Congress should be made to sweep the streets and serve on charity food lines. A former Amenia Union resident, Peter Riva now resides in New Mexico.

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