Author: Reid Kimball
Editor: OE Communications
This opinion piece was approved by the OE Communications committee by receiving the minimum number of at least 6 votes needed for publication.
The Register Guard’s front page article “Protest Pioneers” written by Edward Russo, stated that people within Occupy Eugene (OE) “dislike calling themselves leaders.”
This is true for the most part. I have heard on numerous occasions talking with my brothers and sisters within OE that “there are no leaders,” and “we are a leaderless movement” because Occupy Wall Street was founded on the principles of being a people-powered, leaderless, non-hierarchical movement.
However, I have a differing opinion I would like to share with you all now. Rather than OE being a leaderless movement, or a movement with a few key people who are regarded as leaders, both inside and out, I suggest the following: Occupy Eugene is a protest movement in which everyone who participates is a leader.
We are not a leaderless movement. We are a leaderful movement. You, myself, and everyone in between are leaders. Think about it for a second.
We are making many sacrifices of energy, finances, and time. The sacrifices we make require leadership.
We are taking a proactive initiative to speak our rage against the economic injustices surrounding us; that takes leadership.
We are actively working on solving today’s most pressing problems; that takes leadership.
I joined Occupy Eugene because for once I felt empowered to do something about the governmental and systemic problems. Our energy and momentum depends on creating and maintaining that feeling of personal empowerment.
Calling ourselves a leaderless movement does not feel empowering to me. When we say, “there are no leaders,” I have to ask, who then takes responsibility for the mistakes that we have made?
Without leaders, how do we make ourselves accountable? How do we push ourselves to improve, to grow, and to win this fight against reckless capitalistic greed?
I don’t believe calling ourselves a leaderless movement gives us the personal power we all deserve. Nothing short of leadership is required of us if we are to improve our healthcare, our global economy, our government, our environment, and more. The job we have willingly accepted is daunting, but we can do it if we all believe that each and every one of us is a leader.
Every single day, each one of us commits a plethora of acts that demonstrate leadership. Some of us may commit more than another, but the quantity matters little. There are no ranks, no ladders, no silly job titles, just you and I, working together as equal leaders.
What if you don’t want to be a leader? That’s fine. But know that when I look you in the eye, what I see is a leader because your presence in the same room as I, tells me you have the passion, the smarts, and the leadership qualities we need. We need more people like you.