As I’ve watched the video footage of protesters attempting to “Occupy Wall Street” and, now, “Occupy Boston,” I’ve been struck again and again by this realization: They’re my age. Maybe not all of them — but many of them. So excuse me if I find it hard not to dismiss the movement as born of inexperience and misguided idealism. The romantic impulse to be an outcast, an individual facing outstanding and institutionalized obstacles is one I have to tamp down in myself sometimes; I think it comes with the territory of being in your 20s. Most of the protesters seem like Brita from the TV show, Community — terrified they’ll be consigned to a life of meaninglessness if they ever stop “raging against the Machine.” (If you don’t watch it or haven’t seen this week’s episode, check it out on Hulu; it’s pretty funny.)

It’s at times like this that I realize why the Catholic World Youth Day movement grew so large and so quickly under the leadership of Pope John Paul II. People my age are starved to learn the simple truth that “life has meaning to the extent that it becomes a free gift for others,” as JPII says. Frankly, that’s not a religious message: It’s an adult one. Once you learn to take care of yourself, you start to look for ways to voluntarily make the lives of those around you a little bit better. Selfishness and sloth pall eventually.

But, in the meantime, it makes some people feel important to be arrested for idealistic reasons — and the Boston police are happy to oblige. The Blaze has the story:

Police arrested two dozen protesters for trespassing during two financial demonstrations in downtown Boston Friday.

Organizers of one demonstration gathered outside Bank of America‘s offices to protest the bank’s foreclosure practices in what the Boston Herald reported was an act of civil disobedience with up to 3,000 participants.

“They wanted to be arrested, and we obliged,” Boston police Commissioner Edward F. Davis told the newspaper. …

Carolyn Grant, one of those arrested, told the Herald in a telephone interview the arrest was worth the trouble. …

Several blocks away, a separate group calling itself “Occupy Boston,“ modeled after the recent ”Occupy Wall Street” movement underway in New York City, held its own demonstration to protest general corporate greed.

Incidentally, I’ve always wondered why the most idealistic among my peers aren’t conservatives. For, in the end, we are in the midst of a “battle” — and, at the moment, free enterprise folks are actually the underdogs. Shouldn’t conservative be the new progressive?