The longer I live the more in touch I get with my life’s purpose. Its about AHA! moments. Those clicks where a slice of someone’s world view changes, like a continental sheet just slipping away into a whole new ocean of possibility. Figuring out how to push peoples’ buttons so that happens is really big for me. So is community building. Figuring out what people really want and need, how that aligns with other peoples’ needs and wants, and finding a way to put all of that together, because together we’re more powerful, more capable than we are as individuals.
This is probably why the Occupy Movement really gets me going. There’s a lot of energy and momentum and potential here. I want to find ways to help it grow, spread, evolve and become sustainable. To actually make a difference.
The foremost thing on my mind right now is exactly that, hearts and minds to steal a phrase from the US military. Movements succeed where there is common understanding, intention, emotion and belief. So as humans of many different sorts, different backgrounds, beliefs, religions, races, personality types, etc. Where are the points upon which we can all agree, and how do we grow outwards from that?
Exhibit A: People who see the police as the enemy. I don’t think this is the case. Yes there are a few cops who got into it because they just like bullying people, but those are the minority. Police are defenders and warriors and as such are the kinds of people that believe in honour, justice, duty, respect, clarity and service. These are all wonderful, important, powerful traits that we NEED when it comes to defending our borders or protecting our cities. The problem comes in when To Serve and Protect becomes more and more serving and protecting only a certain segment of the population, because defenders believe in the rule of law and the chain of command they will follow orders that don’t necessarily reflect the values and needs of the greater good. The chain of command is very important in battle to ensure success, but when unscrupulous people end up at the top of that chain of command the police can be used for purposes that even they don’t believe in. But, the law is the law.
So protesters shouldn’t be upset with the police. The police are doing the job we pay them to do. Maintain order, uphold laws, obey commands from above. Getting angry at them is a mistake except for the bad apples who pepperspray without provocation, but they can be dealt with on a case by case basis. No, protesters need to empathize with the police and see what a difficult position they’re in. Chances are many of the police feel the same way as the 99%. If you talked to them off duty I can almost guarantee it. But they can’t just do what they want.
Here’s what needs to happen. We need to demonstrate to the police that we are also honourable, we believe in justice, we believe in respect, in fact we believe in those things MORE than the politicians and the corporations do – and what does that mean? That means that WE THE PEOPLE have more moral AUTHORITY than the 1%.
You cannot have a successful and bloodless revolution without winning the hearts and minds of the police and the military. What we create and what we desire must be defended, and in order to defend something we must first create it. So build it, and they will come. Police will gladly pepperspray and club rowdy vandals, on the other hand they will just as gladly protect decent, honourable citizens who are building something better to serve as an example of what could be.
Exhibit B: The 53% is a misguided and uninformed swath of people who’ve been hit hard by the machinations of the 1% who see the 99% protesters as entitled crybabies. As far as I understand it their argument goes something like “I got shafted in X, Y and Z ways and you don’t see me complaining.” Is it victim mentality? I don’t know. I need to think about this one more.
Exhibit C: “Corporations provide us with tons of great services and products and jobs. Why are you angry at them?” I think this one can be chalked up to a lack of imagination. I like cameras and cell phones and Internet and cars and all that. I really do. But so much environmental damage and human suffering is connected to all of those products and services, I have to share in the blame for that because I’m a consumer. But that doesn’t mean I have to just take it. You can only be called a hypocrite if you don’t acknowledge what you’re doing. Cleaning up the practices of these companies is also about cleaning ourselves of the guilt of years of tainted purchases.
Exhibit D: I had something for this but I can’t remember it. I just had it a second ago. About freedom, fear, imagining something else. This was a really good observation, something that’s hidden in plain view, something about how we are in the world. Why we’re doing this, I mean really. YES!
Youth. Many critics of the Occupy Movement classify it as a band of unwashed youth looking for a handout, but that isn’t really what we want, its never what we wanted. Even before the economic crisis hit we had a feeling in our guts that something was wrong. We want meaning. We want challenges. We want a real future. What is it to look to the horizon and see only hours of toiling in call centres or in a Wal-Mart? Our lives are without meaning or purpose, all we do is move cash through different machines for one another. America has become a culture of servants serving one another for the sake of having something to do.
We want horizons and possibilities. We want to invent. We want to create. We want to build. We want to think for ourselves. Instead we’ve been regulated to death and given dull, menial, departmentalized “jobs” to do that don’t even afford us enough money or free time to do anything more meaningful. What does America aspire to these days? Going to space? Exploring the oceans? Finding new energy sources? Creating fabulous art? Nope, none of that. All that’s important it seems is making money, most of it going to those who already have a lot of money, so that they can use it to turn around and make more money. None of us who are young today signed up for that. We dreamt of much bigger, brighter and grander things. We want to change and shape the world, not work a cash register for 8 hours a day, then eat junk food and watch TV before going to sleep and doing it all over again.
This deserves more lucid, poetic, evocative writing, but this I think is the true manifesto. We as humans yearn for something more than mere subsistence and comfort. If that’s all we wanted we would never have left the jungle. No, we want to push the boundaries, to grow, to change, to evolve. This 9-5 grind in pointless jobs where we don’t even see any real benefit or products of our labour is not why we were born.
So begins the discussion, the transformation. Let’s DO THIS THING!