One year ago today I wrote the following:
I have been watching live-stream of general assemblies, process, community and peaceful protest since October 6th almost non-stop. From my virtual "fly on the wall" view, the energy being put out on a daily basis, most of it 24/7 has been amazing. It has been tiring for me, but exhaustive for the Occupy facilitators. I needed to be witness if I could not always participate like I wanted to.This movement has grown in direct relation to the commitment put into it. Who of the original 56 knew it would grow so large so fast. Who among them was prepared for success? I don't believe a one of them. The empowered themselves and each other in the hopes of getting a few others to recognize the terrible state of our country and planet.
The individual empowerment they embraced as they held each other in that space in Liberty Park became a conduit of fire, pent up anger and love. I could have burnt them up, exploded or simply vented and died after the first push back by the city of New York. The fell in love and like any love affair it raged with all the passion, beautiful and mystery that love is. Gaining trust, showing up, being present, and welcoming the creativity of change that is required if any new endeavor is to survive.As I watched I was mesmerized by the concentrated discipline of the non-hierarchical structure, inclusion and a mantra of peace that truly expressed itself in action, no faux gestures, and no logos. I do not believe those who made the commitment to mid -wife this movement have comprehended what they started, not entirely. They are too busy doing it.
Perhaps they think they find themselves a year later the "only ones" a small loyal cadre? I write this a year later to let many know just the opposite is true. Just like the rumors’ of Paul McCartney’s death, smaller doesn't mean dead! Rumors’ of Occupies death are greatly exaggerated.Like any new baby this infant of the collective soul is new and needs full attention. They are too busy to think about all the changes yet to come and what it will eventually grow into, but the values imparted now will tell the tale later.
But tonight, more than 36 hours after the big raid on Monday morning I saw some very tired parents. The ebb and flow, the tides of emotion to send off a movement are just beginning. Grief is part of any process, try stopping change once it is implemented; impossible. The space defined a community kept the baby safe, carefully collected items that defined the character in time, for a time. Some must feel the baby being thrown into the world too soon. Memories and images kept for infinity on the World Wide Web. But obviously today there were those who were prepared ahead of time for this next phase of growing pains.I say "leave" because I believe that Bloomberg also is part of the birthing process. The assertion of Occupy would not truly be able to stand without resistance in the archetypal sense. A slap on the butt, the movement like a gazelle in the wild, hours after birth must run from predators. We live in accelerated and exhilarating times. The clearing out of the park is the mess of birth, the womb of a new liberty now comes into the world fully gestated in two months. Be happy. This new creation is wobbly, hungry, eager and ready learn. I watched a meeting become somewhat chaotic, many have before, but this was different. The parents are rushing to keep up. Do any of these mid-wives of change the historic never to be forgotten energy they have given over to the world? Not yet. Older activists and change makers can relate this experience and like a knowing grand masters smile with a pride not felt in decades.
I marvel at the lack of violence on the part of Occupy. Less crime than the general population given the exposed nature of the participants, no one died in New York. A veteran killed himself at an Occupy camp in (?), which served to bring attention to the suicide rate among vets involved in last ten years of conflict. The disease and pestilence cried about by the city never came to pass. The way the community dealt with the personal needs, safety and views of each person who arrived, the last but not least the homeless and mentally ill. At one point Occupy was the largest soup kitchen in the city. Occupy didn't create a new model, they had all the spiritual and intellectual resources they needed from other movements and intentional community. But it had never been modeled quite like this before.I have been involved in group projects in theatre, putting together a production in 4-6 weeks. All hands on board or nothing will happen. Egos, fatigue, personality clashes, bogging down but the goal is always the same; opening night for good or ill. I didn't have to live with these folks nor was life and death of democracy at risk.
We are social animals and Occupy sees one tribe oppressing and cheating another tribe, the 1% vs. the 99%. Occupy brought together the tribes of progressiveness; All the disparate causes from fighting addiction to unions, from debt to voter suppression, from environment to women’s issues, veterans groups, health and welfare. This is power of the people that the plutocrats fear. The small tribe of the "masters of the universe" who put themselves above the majority isolated themselves from the rest of the human race. Their own success and power corrupted them like it always has through history. Throughout history the fear of being left behind, shunned, left to starve has been used to make people comply to the demands of the bully’s, who threaten, cheat and often slaughter wholesale. To be fair there was no wholesale slaughter in the case of Occupy. The gods of commerce and transaction fear the goddess' of transformation and community. Occupy lost its things in a tsunami of elite military driven fear of the tribe of humans turning on their gods of money. "You cannot evict an idea!"; becomes the new defiance.If Occupy is just old hippies, spoiled brats, no leaders, disorganized, than why are the elite so upset? The powers that be feel change and are scared. They are used to being in control that illusion of control carefully crafted. Occupy says the “the emperor has no clothes". What is more tangible is a new conscience born of the seeds of reason and enlightenment.
We Tak We Asne (pardon for the phonetics) the saying from the Lakota; We are all related, kept echoing in my ear as I watched this new conscience express itself on my little lap top. The dancing, the drumming, the arguments, the library, medical tent, art, puppets, signs, laughter fill me with hope.I am struck by the strength of the voices I hear. I went to live stream/ Occupy London it was 3 a.m. there and a soldier was talking to a handful of people. He described helping an Iraqi family pick up the bits of body parts so they could bury their dead after the Americans had bombed them. He talked about bashing in doors, night after night taking the males and turning them over the Americans to torture for intel. No honor in this. He spoke of the men in Iraq being the "security" for their families and he has nightmares wondering what happened to the women and children left without doors at mercy to roving gangs. In a thousand years there has been one year where a British soldier has not died in battle.
The voices and faces are part of a Greek chorus I soak up each and every night till I can't stay awake. Even when the main stream media tried hard to find an ignorant old lady Occupy version of the Tea Part "bag" lady they couldn't. The attempt to characterize Occupy as dirty, lazy, stupid indolent bored youth, the need to show older women as not understanding the issues, uneducated, senile is typical of the corporate media. Then there is Dorli Raely. Wow! Her voice was so strong, not shaky, her thoughts not muddled or wandering. She showed confidence and humor on what had to be her only national interview. Not scared of nothing. She has been soaking it all in, paying attention since she was born into Nazi Germany. My heroine and a model for ageing I needed.Tim Pool of the other 99, interviews people off the street, candid, funny determined. His dedication and almost peaceful warrior mentality was inspiring. His determination to tell the story with as little bias as possible should garner him a prize in journalism. The main stream seldom interview off the street, usually the famous, or pseudo famous or each other. I hate the term "regular people", not an actor, real people. If we aren't all real or seen as equals from the beginning gives birth to the non-hierarchal approach to democracy that so few seem to get.
Since I wrote this the movement has changed the conversation of a nation. Has given support to a variety of causes including stopping the XL pipeline if at least temporarily. Started an Occupy Foreclosure, Occupy Strike Debt and Occupy Sandy. I see courage spreading like a breath of fresh air, truth beating back lies, love and strength saying NO to the bullies, racists, elitists and exploiters. As the Chinese have over 87,000 protests this last year against the communist corporatists, as Europe fights the moneyed interests of global finance and austerity, as the so called third world marches and dies against the greed of oil, gold and diamonds, we finally awaken from our free market dream state. And for some reason I cannot fathom the rest of the world is happy to see us awaken, see us as the leader in so many things. We have to live up to our own hype. Put our money where our mouth is. Our constitution is dusted off, that old secular sacred document supplanted by apocalyptic scriptural fanaticism. Occupy will never die as long as there is one person willing to speak to power, say no to tyranny and lies. They said the civil rights movement, women’s movement, Native American movement, environmental movement, the peace movement, would all die! Occupy is not separate but the name of a big family of righteousness. I wear my little Occupy button with pride, just like the old peace sign used decades ago, yellow ribbons, suffragette banners, feathers in hats, pride of the rainbow, and “hatitude”.