Here's the chain of events that led up to it. After giving my presentation at the philosophy conference this afternoon, I attended another presentation. The presenter was giving a presentation on theodicy: If you are not familiar with this term, it basically involves an attempt to reconcile the existence of God and the problem of evil in this world, i.e. how can there be an omnipotent, morally perfect God when there is so much suffering brought about by human and natural evils in this world?
After listening to that presentation... I bailed! Yes, I know that probably makes me a bad philosopher, but I simply find it impossible to justify spending an entire perfectly beautiful fall day indoors, when I am in a city that I have never been to before. I just felt that I should explore the city a little while there is still some daylight. Besides, I have heard so much about the beautiful Davenport riverfront (the Mississippi river runs through the Iowa-Illinois border, and separates Davenport, Iowa, and Rock Island, Illinois); it would be a shame not to see it.
So I, ahem, sneaked out of the conference venue (not that there were any philosophy police to catch me ;-)), got into my car, and drove down to the riverfront. The riverfront is indeed beautiful. But an even more interesting sight greeted me. As I drove along the riverfront, I saw a group of people seated in chairs in a bandshell by the river, listening to what I thought was a band concert. I got out of my car, and heard a spoken word poet reciting an inspirational poem to the people sitting in the bandshell: "Now is the time to speak up. I know that the pen is mightier than the sword. I know that we are all heroes, and silence is our kryptonite!"
[Image taken from here]
Hmm... silence is our kryptonite? Interesting, I thought, as curiosity drew me closer and closer to the bandshell. As I approached it, I saw people carrying signs that said, "We are the 99%", etc. And then it hit me: This is an Occupy event! After the poet recited his poem, a few other speakers took the podium, and spoke about their own feelings and thoughts about being the 99%. The audience listened appreciatively, interjecting with enthusiastic applause now and then. I learned from the speeches that earlier in the day, there had been a march organized by the local Occupy movement across the Centennial Bridge linking Rock Island and Davenport, and that this rally was actually the second part of the day's events.
There were people of all ages at the rally, although it seems that compared to the crowd in Fargo (see this post), the average age of the crowd here seems to be somewhat older. Somehow, I sense that the people in this part of the country are gentle, down-to-earth people; people who have decided that enough is enough, and that the only viable option is to speak up. Which, again, totally discredits the mass media's portrayal of Occupy Event participants as hippies who never shower or get haircuts.