I know it’s been a while, and I know this post is somewhat unrelated to my usual postings about permaculture and farming, but it’s what seems pertinent in my life right now, and this feels like a good outlet for sharing.
I just moved to Oakland not too long ago, and have been watching the Occupy Oakland movement unfold here. I’ve had a chance to sit in on a few General Assemblies, and have spoken with many gathered in the park and square to get their thoughts on why they’re there, and what this whole shindig is all about. What I’m sharing below are my own thoughts about what the Occupy movement represents, and how I think it can change to speak not just for the 99%, but indeed, for 100% of people who are willing to speak their hearts and minds.
What I wrote in response to witnessing some of the events at Occupy Oakland I think in many ways represents the culmination of many thoughts I’ve been having recently about how our systems and society need to change if we are going to move forward in a way that honors the basic human rights of all global citizens. The basic idea is this: we can’t continue, in any arena of life, acting with a “win/lose”, “us/them” mindset, looking out for the interests of some (even if they are those close to us, or indeed, even ourselves) in a manner that limits or undermines the prosperity or even basic rights of another. It’s about time we truly embrace the “golden rule”, and treat one another with the understanding that we truly all are in this together. At the same time, this should be happening simultaneously with the recognition that different people in different places need and want different things. We don’t need to become homogeneous to honor everyone’s basic humanity. I think the best way to pursue both of these things is to create a place for an open, honest and creative conversation, and to do so in a way that allows everyone’s voice to be heard equally. To me, this is the true revolutionary practice that Occupy is manifesting, and I only hope that we can extract this, amplify it, and couple it with our brightest minds and best technology in a way that allows us to truly begin a conversation about purpose, and the equitable distribution of opportunity to all. Here’s what I thought:
There is no them
There is no them.
There is no joining the Occupy movement – there is only waking up to realize that you are already a part of it, and have been since the beginning.
There is no 99% or 1% – there are only people, who appear to be divided by opinion and perspective. That difference of opinion and perspective is what makes this swelling of true democracy so incredible. If you do not agree with the Occupy movement, then come down, join the general assembly and express it. You will be heard. And if people do not agree with you, then bring more who do. All of you will have a part in the larger voice that is re-Occupying our place in America, our place as members of humanity, where all are entitled to speak from their heart, and to have a say in our collective destiny.
99% is merely rhetoric. There are those who are in the top 1% of our economic sector who see and believe in ending the injustices that are currently rife in our system, just as there are those in the remaining 99% who have yet to have their eyes opened to systematic oppressions that are overt to many. The economic dividing lines are arbitrary, and no less divisive than division of race, religion or ethnicity. 100% of us are human, and we need 100% of us if Occupy is going to become everything it wishes to become.
We must aim to lift the veils from the eyes of those who do not yet see that they are invested in this movement; who do not yet see these systems of repression, and who do not yet see the depths of their complicity. To do anything less is to perpetuate the us them polarities that have brought our political process to a standstill. We must understand that there is a reason why our system has grown to be what it is, the same way that people have grown to be the way they are, and we must believe that those things can change. Otherwise, we are no better than the parent that criticizes the child rather than the action; no better than the person who believes that another in prison is fundamentally bad or violent and not worth helping; no better than the person who is not willing to look at where their trash goes, and who is taking it away.
There are many broken people, be it because of the addictions of privilege or the burdens and bruises of oppression, and we must welcome them all. Those who we would hate the most are those who we must try the hardest to reach and to love, as we are doing nothing less in that process than coming to love those broken parts of ourselves.
If you are met with violence, do not cower and become timid. You may choose to fight back or not – but make that choice not attacking an enemy. Make it with the understanding that you are attacking a brother, or a sister, or a parent, who does not yet see that you are fighting for them. Because there is no them. There is only the inextricably bound mass that is humanity, fighting for a chance to be heard, to be invested in creating a world that is better for ourselves and our children. Despite all our differences of opinion, background and perspective, we all have a part to play if we are willing to allow everyone to play it. There is no them. There is only now.
Would love to hear thoughts on this, and how to continue such a conversation.
P.S. I haven’t see what Occupy Venice is all about, but I do like their artwork.