- (Photo: Peter Nesbitt)
- (Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)
Georgetown University’s Peter Nesbitt, class of 2012, has a hectic schedule. When he’s not studying or taking tests, he’s preparing for internship interviews or maintaining his social life. Despite this, there’s no place he’d rather spend time Thursday than McPherson Square, helping “Occupy D.C.” protesters there find employment opportunities.
Nesbit is the creator of “Employ the 99%. Handing out job apps to the Occupiers,” a Facebook event scheduled for noon that will provide “Occupy D.C.” protesters with job applications, military and college recruitment information and a resume workshop. The 27-year-old said his “non-protest” aims at helping protesters learn how to help themselves.
“I think myself and most Americans empathize with the frustration with the economy and political system,” Nesbitt said of the protesters. “If I can help someone to make a better career or life decision, then I feel that I have made the world a slightly better place.”
Nesbitt said the origin of “Occupy D.C.” earlier this month inspired his action. Though he agreed with the group’s calls for social and economic reforms, he said he found its methods and ideology misguided. He said he hopes to help others realize there are alternatives to the “Occupy” movements that began with New York’s “Occupy Wall Street” on Sept. 17.
“Real political change in democracy is hard work – informing and convincing voters, running for office and getting legislation passed,” Nesbitt said. “But protesting indefinitely is a false prophet – an empty promise of change and individual advancement that is costing these people time and money.”
It was a realization Nesbitt first had waiting for an internship interview by McPherson Square one recent afternoon. Seeing protesters sitting idle while scores of employed Washingtonians rushed past them, he said he decided then and there to show others that hard work could help their futures.
Nesbitt knows firsthand the value of such labor. A South Dakota native, he said he joined the Army after high school so that he could save money for college. Now completing a degree in international politics, he said his dedication to studying has already shown him possible career opportunities. He now hopes the 53 people in his Facebook group can pass along the value of self-betterment to others.
“Working and getting education are more effective than protesting and camping out,” Nesbitt said. “Both increase opportunity and mobility while providing dignity and empowerment.”
These ideals, Nesbitt said, seem more in line with Christianity than the ideas some protesters claim. Rather than just changing government, he said, he believes protesters should also change themselves.
“Jesus ignored the politics of his day and focused on helping individuals on the path towards righteousness,” he said. “He gave people the means (healing the sick, helping the poor and feeding the hungry) and the motivation (an inclusive path to become one with God) to improve their lives.”
Brittney Morrett, the Leadership Institute’s CampusReform.org communications manager, said she valued Nesbitt’s efforts at reaching out towards protesters. His event, she said, could inspire them to re-evaluate their options.
“I’m not sure Peter’s idea will completely change the ‘Occupy’ protests, but it will serve to be a voice encouraging people to help create wealth as opposed to dividing and redistributing it,” she said.
Aaron Buchop, an employee for a non-profit organization he couldn’t name due to work regulations, said merely meeting with protesters would offer a valuable chance for dialogue. At day’s end, he said, debating the issues could develop new solutions for old problems.
“I really hope that we have a chance to talk to people and to give them a chance to really think about what they are doing and what they purportedly hope to accomplish,” he said. “As the late Steve Jobs once said, ‘a lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.’”