Sunday, October 16, 2011

Occupy it all, fear nothing

I went to Occupy Ann Arbor yesterday, a movement in solidarity of the Occupy Wall Street movement. There were about fifteen of us just sitting and talking, holding signs, learning, and sharing stories. We managed to attract the interests of several people walking by, as well as a few car horns.

I wondered, though, why there weren't more people out there, showing support. The message of Occupy movement is something that most all of us can sympathise with, even though some people have portrayed it as some sort of hippie sit-in. I asked David and Heather (the two people to my left in the photo) about this, for it is something I have been thinking about ever since talking to Avik about getting the more "comfortable" people out in protest against continuing ecological degradation and the deviousness of government and corporatism. (These are the people that comprise the middle to upper middle class in the US, those that have enough money to pay the mortgages, have their two cars, two children, and food available from just a few miles of driving.) Are people just not getting the memo?

I am convinced that we live in a state of constant fear. Fear was instilled in us to convince us of the Soviet threat during the Cold War, fear was instilled in us to keep us quiet and keep debate to a minimum when invading Iraq, fear was used as a tactic in response to addressing the housing mortgage bubble, fear was used on us when the government said that AIG was "too big to fail," and fear is being used on us in the politicians' and financiers' responses to the Occupy movement. Fear is being used as a tactic in response to addressing the most obvious and large scale of socio-ecological issues, like climate change. "Things can't change, because they will get worse. We'll lose jobs, and our economy will tank. So just keep doing what you're doing," we are told time and time again. Consequently, we fear that speaking up will make us lose our income, and that we won't be able to pay off our bills and support our families if we do so. We are slaves to fear.

Heather said something very profound. She said that fear is a more primal state of being than what is needed to address the issues that face us. What we really need right now is compassion, and the energy, solidarity, and action that comes out of a compassion towards people's lives, and the Earth that supports us. Instead, our primal beings are catered to when fear is used. Compassion is a higher state of being than is fear, and therefore, it is more difficult to be compassionate than it is to be in fear. Then again, straight-laced people, who have "listened" and done everything they have been told to do by the corporations and the government are losing their livelihoods, and are being kicked out of their homes. These are the people that will hopefully join the Occupy movement. 

At Liberty Plaza, showing support. From left to right: Katie, me, David, Heather, don't know, don't know.
The Occupy movement is ostensibly one whose message is as clear as it is vague. What is clear is that most all of us have continued to be duped by "the system," that grand government-industry-military-corporate complex. Many have worked with the ideals that this country has "epitomised," and yet have been left behind in the name of continued centralised power, centralised money, and the too-big-to-fail mentality. On the other hand, the vagueness of the movement's message allows people to bring in their own views and own concerns to the table. Rather than a singular issue movement, the Occupy movement represents a vast spectrum of anti-corporate, anti-government sentiment.

In the end, however, as this trash-free journey has made me realise, change comes from within. It is very easy to point fingers to the government, or to Goldman Sachs, or those other sleazebags on Wall Street, who are sociopaths of the highest calibre. But this country is at least semi-democratic. (Do not be fooled into thinking that this country is fully democratic.) So where have we gone wrong? How could we have let this happen? We have not had actual guns to our heads forcing us into this situation. Somewhere, we have lost sight, we have lost track, we have not paid attention, and we have let the power grab happen. The corporations have, on the other hand, not lost track, and have continued to pay attention. It is only then that they have such a power hold over this culture. We must find the chink in the armor.

I am fascinated to see how this unfolds.

(I will be away from the blog for a week. Tune back in on Saturday.)

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