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Monday, September 10, 2012

How To Occupy (Chapter One Continued)

Occupy Boston (Lindo, 2011)
Continued....Occupiers have shown up in almost every country on earth. People saying they are protesting in solidarity with those who protest lack of regulation and consumer protection. These Occupiers journey to find each other and then take the time necessary to find the right questions to ask, that's really the most interesting part. It seems they find it not by taking someone else's answer, or even someone else's question, but by thinking for themselves. So as a policy geek, we have to applaud any medium that so clearly carries their crafted messages. 
"This makeshift city is a vortex of creation: To think for oneself is not merely to take sides on the same old issues that come up generation after generation, it is to bring forth the issues that make a difference. Occupy is a machine of bringing forth." ~~ Normi The Chef (Donald Trump's celebrity chef who came by with amazing meals for the warriors at Occupy LA)
"How can I matter?" That question led me to this opportunity to take a stand and leads me everyday to knowing the moments on which to act, to see decisive moments in which to make things happen. Things are actually happening here." ~~ Nick At Night, Occupy Wall Street.
Occupy Baltimore (Lindo, 2011)
"Everyday thinking and questioning people can, at times, demonstrate a remarkable demand for a domain of possibility- a context - in which individual lives can make a difference. And that is empowering even to the point of restoring hope." ~~ Prentiss, Occupy Baltimore
Occupy Maui (Lindo, 2011)
There is one other question on almost all Occupiers minds. With all the doom and gloom pouring out of main stream media, (which most of these sign holders definitely say they despise) there is a 2012 End-Of-Days drama to many conversations. 'Will we survive?' People say it about their families and their businesses.  Kids say it because they worry about recent nuclear accidents. The anti-war protestors say it about drones.
"In my generation's lifetime it really feels like we are in fact destroying ourselves economically and environmentally. A more useful question is, "What if we do survive all this mess, then what?" Then you have to say,  "How can I make a difference" If you ask yourself, I'm willing to bet you do. Because you made it here. To listen and self educate is living in the presence of making a difference by simply sharing self education. When we switch from "Can I make a difference?" to "I am making a difference!" that's what Occupy is all about." ~~ Drenda Herrera, Occupy Wall Street
Occupy LA (Lindo, 2011)
In all honesty, not much makes a difference. That's the reality. So where is the difference making?  Questions are much more powerful than answers, so these Occupiers tend to spend each day devoted to knowing whether or not there is a way to ask questions that make a difference?

The kind of human being that shows up in the presence of something is different than the people who live in the vicious cycle of corporate greed. These Occupiers don't know if the answer is yes, or no. They tend to think, from our travels, that they probably don't make a difference. They are not aware that simply being who they are they make a difference. Around the heating sources, they'll say the media has no idea what's been happening at one Occupy or another, they think no one is noticing they're there. In reality, by taking a stand and honestly looking at our problems, the closer they get to the facts of the matter, the more patriotic they are. These people are shouting about what is really true for them. They aren't showing up to make a profit.
Occupy Oakland (Lindo, 2011)
Occupiers for the most part are showing up to fight for civil rights and that common human courtesy be reflected in the law. Yet they tend to feel like the process is meaningless and difficult and time consuming when you talk over walks to the closest bathrooms. They are fighting being evicted and food issues and weather issues and security issues. If they were just allowed to be the populist think tanks they strive to be, perhaps we might find new domains that we might have not seen before in our government's commitments to preconceived answers, answers that are consistently paid for by the Koch Brothers. Yeah, that's another consistent message from all the different cities. We are here as witnesses to say that there are indeed new domains that open the possibility where things show up, where the future can show up, where the things that are missing begin to show up. When you take a stand in the clearing in the place where new ideas show up, things can truly get accomplished.  So our cameras and our recorders and eyes are there.

While all this is going on, it's hard not to flash on how things are back inside the beltway. Cocktail party floating in our nation's capitol is alot like being on a train ride. Inside the train people are having a fairly good time. There's music and food and the scenery is terrific as the countryside roles by. Then somebody looks out the window and notices where the train is going, and sees that the tracks lead to a disaster, maybe a Senator or a Congressman, or maybe a pundit. Now people who pretend to represent the rest of us start to organize the train." Listen" they say, "what we all have to do is get on the left-side-of-the-train. Hurry" So everybody moves over to the left side, and maybe we all try left-side-of-the-train thinking and doing for awhile, and then someone looking out the window of the train sees where we are going and sees, OMG, there is still a disaster ahead and yells, "this isn't working, we are still headed toward disaster!" Everybody knows what to do then and they announce: "Get over on the right side of the train, quickly. Everybody!" So everybody moves over to the right side. They give each other enormous numbers of promises that getting on the proper side of the train is what is going to make a difference. But it doesn't.

Occupy Baltimore (Lindo, 2011)
People who are looking out the window of the train now can see the disaster coming. The Occupy people are using twitter and all kinds of social media to share info and stay in touch, and Americans are starting to wake up to the fact that it is totally unrealistic to think that the side you are on is going to make any difference as to where the train goes. What we want to do here, is to prevent disaster. What we have been doing, is still leading us to disaster. The drama of these Occupations playing out on a national stage gives us an opportunity to get out in front of the train and lay some new tracks. That seems to be the only realistic practical thing to do. It seems to us to be wholly unpractical to keep trying the same old worn-out ways, just exchanging them in 30 year periods, generation for generation, or exchanging them from one administration to another administration or one Party to another Party. But doing otherwise, requires us, each of us, to think for ourselves and not take sides on issues. Candidates think taking sides on an issue is thinking for yourself. No. To think for oneself is to bring forth the issues that are important. Not to take a side. We're not saying people shouldn't take sides, but in reality, taking a side has nothing to do with thinking for oneself.  And these goose-bumped issue chewers are on the front lines of this different way of bubbling up answers, here as an example to the powers that be, in the absence of their proper use of power. And it's awe inspiring.

Occupy LA (Lindo, 2011)
This window has opened in our history, to build an alternative future. A domain in which a difference can be made, the exercise of future building. With care. With acceptance. With responsibility. Consensus is about opening up possibilities. Not about being committed to anything that claims rights over inalienable citizens rights. They are willing to take a stand with no proof, just naked courage. It's been an honor to document this movement. It requires courage to go down a road with no path to follow. Anyone can walk a path once shown it. Here, the path is made by the walking. So we walk with them, and take some pictures along the way.

UPDATE  At this time, we've never been at an Occupy during a violent event.  But there are reports. And there are calls for a National General Assembly to happen in Philadelphia summer 2012...

Lisa, The Policy Geek
(Inspired by The Network Review, 1983)

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