People wonder what Occupy will accomplish, if it is ending as the tents come down here and elsewhere. Many are terrifically supportive; some are upset with the messiness, the flotsam and jetsam left behind at Occupy sites – and that sites are public lands and not everybody voted, yes, OK, you can camp here. The mess will get cleared, and hopefully, our heads will clear too through this lightly organized social upheaval, a cross over of direct democracy and anarchy, anarchy where you can do whatever you want as long as that doesn’t harm another, Noam Chomsky’s definition.
Important ideals and actions are represented by Occupy here, across the US and even around the globe – and we’re just beginning to see the real and hopefully, long term results of this innovative movement initiated when AdBusters magazine in San Francisco came upon the words Occupy and We Are the 99% – and hung them out for us to see and hear, over and over and over and over.
The words Occupy and The 99% are now coming out of the mouths of people who want the middle class and the American economy restored so we can stop struggling so hard to just get along. The elephant we have a tough time looking at: If we don’t conquer climate crisis now (and doesn’t look a lot like we will after the recent UN conference!) in ten years, over one half the world’s population will be water insecure, let alone food insecure. Collapse on a scale we have never seen sounds about right. So, yeah, Occupy people are just making sense of what doesn’t make any sense: we humans have mistreated each other (income inequality, foreclosures, etc.) and have been ravaging our Mother and she’s furious and on occasion blowing her top with a tsunami here, a drought there, large scale death in many lands. This is so obviously crazy and Occupy is simply a dedication to make the world wake up and behave in a sane manner.
Huge media tributes to Occupy:
Time Magazine just named protesters/Occupy “Person of the Year” – “a composite of men and women around the world, particularly people in the Middle East…What happened in the Arab world DID influence the Occupy movement…” The idea of democracy was present in each action…Wow! Way to go global activists! Occupy is also “Word of the Year” for NPR’s Geoff Nunberg. This is Living Democracy, Frances Moore Lappe’ style (Diet for a Small Planet, her most famous; check her now on Facebook and Twitter).
Many have now taken their money from big banks and put it with locals we can work with more closely. People understand their neighbors shouldn’t be kicked out of their homes based on bad acting by banks (see Petaluma’s Wendy Booth video at the end of the NYT link below). Health: our new Petaluma Health Center is doing remarkably well by us, but we still need security around health care and lots of living wage jobs, housing, good education – all necessary to the pursuit of happiness! Basic human rights should be available to all.
Hard to imagine, really, how we got so very far off the mark; we eroded our middle class to the point where a world economic crisis ensued and continues. Somewhere we trendy people got side tracked among the electronic gadgets we buy to tell ourselves we’re doing something new and meaningful. (Buy less gadgets!) Our vision is refreshed by Occupy. Like eye drops.
Encouraging that this week Occupy was cited by an LA City Council member as he called for an end to the Citizens United law that gives corporations personhood (yuck!); an urgently needed change we must make to stop the march toward a bankrupt future of consumerism that is a death knell to global economic stability.
Picked up a few year’s end magazines at Copperfields Books – The Atlantic, The Economist, Adbusters to see what the money people with ethics think is going on.
I found more I cared to read in a little-known mag, California Northern, Issue #4: Imagining Utopia. My belief system in my 20s in Berkeley – and that Utopian road is still a great one, at least where it meets the practical. Always liked that about Lynn Woolsey – stating she is a practical idealist. Gandhi’s two words.
All this connects to Occupy because the whole idea of Utopia is to keep envisioning the best of all worlds, how we get to a place where we are happiest and healthiest and hopefully, kindest. Sigh. With help from Linda Lipps, the Oasis Center downtown and a heap of Buddhist books, I am working on being kinder. To myself first.
Which brings these diverse strings back together: Occupy and Utopia come together where we look at what we can do to benefit ourselves and each other. Some phrases that always run through my head: Doing things that are useful, gratitude, “My Religion is Simple, It is Kindness,” Dalai Lama.
What now for Occupy as it folds up its tents? Occupy will fold up its tents but will not end, will simply make its entrance into the realm of electoral politics. Occupy will become local activists engaged in local politics all around the globe.
So we have these new words working for us: Occupy We Are the 99%. These works so well they may change the outcome of the 2012 elections to favor the middle class – on which this country’s economy depends! What seems so very vague to many is actually focused. We need government that actually represents us – so we need to tell government what we need, holding nothing back.
Petaluma’s Occupy no longer camping in Penry Park (see Argus)
Geof Nunberg, NPR, Fresh Air, December 7, 2011, Word of the Year: Occupy http://www.npr.org/2011/12/07/143265669/occupy-geoff-nunbergs-2011-word-of-the-year
And I liked this piece a lot: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/11/15-8
This is What the Revolution Looks Like, Christopher Hedges