I will be attending the General Assembly meeting of Occupy Boston tonight.
Here is why.
I am in broad agreement with the articulated aims of the protests which have evolved over the past few weeks. The moniker of the 99%, which protestors are gathering under, is perfect for the primary target of the movement against Wall Street and the general infiltration of this country’s institutions by the moneyed interest.
However, I will address these broad aims later. For now, I want to air my personal grievance with the system and general state of affairs.
For years I have wanted to become a Foreign Service Officer and serve my country as a diplomat for the Department of State. I have taken the Foreign Service Written Examination three times, failing the first, passing the second, and will hear in 3 weeks time how I did on the third. I remember being very exhilarated as well as nervous the first two times I took it. This, after all, was the exam that could determine my career. When I failed the first time, I was even more determined to pass the second time around, which I did, making it halfway to the Oral Examination stage of the process before my candidacy was dropped. I submitted my responses to the Personal Narrative Questions and took the language placement for Arabic, which I was told upon passing could only help my application. But it was not to be. Not that I’m really surprised of course. With the state of the economy, and the number of people who test and apply annually for the service, I could hardly stand a chance next to a 35-year old lawyer with multiple degrees and years of experience.
Going into the test this past week, I felt nothing. I was almost completely demoralized. It felt almost routine. And there were significantly more people there taking it. Most of them in the same situation I was. Recent graduates from college, whom the State Department is apparently totally disinterested in. Master’s Degree required.
It is extraordinarily disheartening. How long am I supposed to slave away until I can serve my country in the capacity I desire? How long am I supposed to wait? How many degrees do I have to acquire?
The timing of the exam last week could not have been better, coming off the heels of a report in the New York Times that the Department itself was going to be facing cuts to foreign aid. I mean, sure, at first this might not look so bad from an employment standpoint, but consider the wider implications. Cutting from U.S. AID amongst the other sub-departments in charge of administering foreign aid will undoubtedly mean at some point that there will no longer be a need for as many people to administer what sorry funds remain. A reduction in soft power means a reduction in individuals qualified to administer said soft power.
Such news could not come at worse time. The government needs to employ more people. I’m certainly not advocating for bloated bureaucracies here. But give us something like the Civilian Conservation Corps! Or at least provide some encouraging signs for those that want to work in the departments and serve their country.
I am tired of sitting on the sidelines watching this happen. I’m tired of feeling like a freaking spectator. This is our Republic, and those who want to serve it in and make it better for others should be able to.
This is why I will be attending Occupy Boston.