Forum Post: What do those involved in the Occupy movement WANT? What are we for? Let me take a crack at articulating it. . .
Posted 2 years ago on March 22, 2012, 8:44 p.m. EST by therising
This content is user submitted and not an official statement
I don't speak for anyone but myself. That said, I think at least some who are involved in the Occupy movement might agree with the spirit of what I'm about to say despite the fact that my attempt may be clumsy.
Many who aren't familiar with Occupy want specifics. They want answers, but the detailed answers they are expecting ("Which piece of legislation?", "Which political figures?", "Which grievances?") can't really answer their questions. This is because they confuse specificity with accuracy.
But the details don't really give an accurate or full picture. Descartes was wrong in his reductionist thinking. Slicing something into pieces doesn't give you the answers you seek. Often, perhaps always, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Knowing the weight, height, birthdate and social security number of a person doesn't do any more to tell you who they are than knowing the square footage, height and location of a building tells you its character. Fritjof Capra in the book "The Turning Point" reminds us that modern physics rejects Descartes' reductionism and makes it quite clear that all things are connected. By separating things artificially, we cut ourselves off from any chance of real understanding.
So, although I'd personally love for everyone to support certain landmark pieces of legislation, lift up certain courageous leaders or show up at about a thousand different key locations en masse to protest very specific things (like the action described in this post that's received over 2,000 comments https://occupywallst.org/forum/proposed-list-of-demands-please-help-editadd-so-th/ ) in this particular posting, I'll go beyond those things, however important they might be. What I want to convey is beyond what specific changes we want to see. I want to talk about how we want to BE.
What I believe drives many in the movement to protest is that they want to live an authentic life. They want to step out of what James Baldwin called "the lie and the trap of their history" to BE just BE. They want to be citizens rather than consumers. They want to step out of ROLES and want others to do the same so that we can interact as human beings. They seek out what Baldwin called "the light in the eyes that is always there waiting to be found."
Henry James put it like this: "Connect. Only connect." It is these authentic connections that I think many of us seek.
We do not want to play a "role" in an artificial corporate reality. We don't want to have our reality, our interactions or our very consciousness shaped by marketing experts whose main aim is to sell more stuff. We do not want to live life asleep, allowing ourselves to fall prey to endless manufactured wants. We don't need all this STUFF. What we need is community, real human connection. The temporary dopamine bursts that come from consuming and pursuing quick easy pleasure are unfulfilling. We crave a more sustainable joy, a deeper authentic joy that comes from genuine interaction with others, true community.
To folks unfamiliar with the heart message of Occupy, to those demanding specific solutions, I say, chill out. We may not have all the solutions at this point. But at least we are responding to our gut as human beings and asking the right questions. That is the first step.
"What do you want?" you ask? One legitimate answer is "NOT THIS." In the film "The Graduate", a died in the wool corporatist puts his arm around Benjamin and tells the recent graduate "There's a big future for you in plastics." You can see from the look on Benjamin's face that he's thinking "There are so many things wrong with that sentence that I don't even know how to respond." There's such a surrender of life, such a surrender of humanity associated with that statement about such an incredibly corporate and limited future. Rather than coming out and saying what's wrong with that mode of existence, the film simply shows you the results, the tortured lives of the 1% who are supposedly the ones winning in this lecherous system. Benjamin rejects the cynical corporate approach and embraces life. He doesn't know precisely how it will turn out or what his version of success might look like but he sees no choice really. He's not prepared to become plastic.
I must admit that at times I am frustrated that many outside the movement are so satisfied with the current state of affairs that they are incredulous that we would question it without having ready-made solutions. When a system and the people that maintain it are so incredibly divorced from reality, sometimes it is nearly is impossible to "untie the knot" through detailed explanation. I can't possibly sort out all the ways that the collusion of Wall Street, Madison Avenue, K Street, military contractors, the Pentagon, academia and Congress has fucked up this nation and the world, but I can sure as hell tell you that the results are intolerable and I just plain can't stand one more minute of it.
The legendary Bob Marley put it this way: "They would do anything to materialize your every wish."
Not one more minute of reducing our lives to playing out roles. Not one more minute of false plastic conversation. I want genuine human interaction.
And to get there, we need to rebuild this society. That doesn't necessarily mean we have to abandon what our founding fathers built. But it certainly means rejecting the shape into which the corporate hijackers with their narrow mindsets have bent this once elegant system. We reject that wholeheartedly.
I'll quote James Baldwin once again because he describes it so well:
"They do not know the precise shape of the future but they know that the future belongs to them. They realize this -- paradoxically -- by the failure of moral energy of their oppressors and begin, almost instinctively, to forge a new morality, to create the principles on which a new world will be built."
Build baby build.
Grow baby grow.
Unite. That's the vision. Heal divisions and join together. Reach out. And find commonality. Once we pay more attention to what we have in common rather than what separates us, we'll be able to make decisions from a position of unified strength rather than demands from a position of divided weakness. When you get right down to it, we already have the power and have had it all along. We just have to wake up and realize that we ARE the 99% and it's absurd that such a tiny minority has ruled over such an enormous majority for so long.
Seeking commonality is the secret. A guy named Albert Einstein (who I'm told was pretty smart) put it this way: “A human being is part of a whole, called by us the Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
Perhaps following the Buddhist message and just pondering the truth that the same fact of death awaits us all can foster the necessary compassion that brings unity.
Follow your gut. It is telling you the truth. It is leading the people of America, the people of the world to rise up and collectively engage in a giant shrugging off of the leach of corporatism that has been sucking the blood of humanity for so long. It's destroying the lives and great potential of not only the 99% but the 1% too. No one is really benefitting from this beast. It's dividing us, pitting us against one another, stealing our lives and the futures of our children in the process.
But as Martin Luther King, Jr. said so succinctly, "Truth crushed to earth rises up."
And that leads us to the wise words of the great Rastafarian poet Bongo Jerry:
"Sooner or later but mus', the dam going to bus. And everyone will break out. And who will stop them? The force? What force can stop this river of people who know their course?"
Breyton Breytonbach said this shortly before being sentenced to prison for his nonviolent protest activity in South Africa: "With confidence, we lay our case before the world. Whether we win or whether we die, freedom will rise like the sun through the morning clouds."
So here we are at daybreak. It's just beautiful isn't it? After a long chilly night, we are awakening to feel the warmth of the sunrise. The divisions between us are dropping and the truth and the power of unity is rising with the morning sun. Ahhhh.