Occupy Participation: #SomeThingsAreBiggerThanAnyOfUs
“There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful
than the risk it took to blossom.”
As the eloquent Ms. Nin explains above, there is such a thing as a
pain threshold. In the struggle for social change, this may be the point at
which inaction become more agonizing than the fear we all harbor about stepping
up and challenging this destructive culture.
I’ve often wondered when we will collectively decide that we’re less
afraid of the State than of living on a planet without trees,
without drinkable water,
without arable land, without a hint of justice. Thanks to Occupy
Wall Street (OWS) and all
related efforts, this moment is getting closer with each passing day and
in that spirit, I’ll say ssssshhhhhhh…
Silence your cell phones, your TVs, silence the noise in your head…and just
listen. Listen carefully. Can you hear it? It’s a cry from the future, a
mournful plea begging us to capture this moment. Can you hear it? Will
you hear it? Or have you gotten so accustomed to losing that you choose instead
to cover your ears, bury your head — finding endless excuses and myriad
methods to ignore and/or discredit the effort?
Listen again. Listen closer. This is probably our last, best chance…it’s
nothing less than the call to global revolution. How will you answer?
perspective for the 98%…
Up till now, perhaps only 1% of the 99% have even heard the call and I’ll
get to them in a minute. This is for the other 98%:
There was a time when human slavery was believed too deeply entrenched in American
culture to ever be abolished. But the movement to end this “peculiar institution”
was made up of individuals willing to recognize that some things in life are
bigger than any of us.
Whether they literally risked their lives by rescuing slaves and running the
Underground Railroad or played a role by sewing clothes or blankets for escaped
slaves or lending financial support or handing out pamphlets or even writing
books like Uncle
Tom’s Cabin, the effort needed every single one of these brave humans
doing their part — small or large.
What seems impossible and irreversible today can be addressed if we’re willing
to wake up and do
the hard work. If we’re willing to stop making excuses for the reprehensible
leaders (sic) — both political and corporate — who profit from
So, the next time you’re about zone out to a Will
& Gracere-run, why not do some deep contemplation instead? Take
a good, long look into your heart and an even longer look at the choices you
make all day, every day — not from place of guilt and shame but with a sense
of revelation. Accept the challenge to be better a human being, a more responsible
Nothing will change until we change our minds but it takes courage to perform
self-examination. It takes courage to accept everything
you know just might be wrong. For the record, it takes far more courage
to do this than to willingly
enlist to be paid to wage illegal and immoral wars.
It’s not the volunteer mercenaries in places like Afghanistan who are fighting
for our freedom. It’s OWS.
Some perspective for the other 1%…
Maybe 1% of the 1% who have heard the call are opting — for a variety of
reasons — to discount its urgency for reasons ranging from isolated incidents
of sexism-racism-classism to word usage to (possibly) being bitter and jealous
that their hard work never captured the public’s attention as OWS has. There
are even some activists expending energy hating
on the drum circles.#huh?
You spend much of your life contemplating social change but when the revolution
makes an unannounced appearance, you choose to downplay it? Perhaps the noise
of displaying superior vision is drowning out the desperate call for help. If
so, I suggest:
De-occupy the grad school dissertations, reject the fascism of semantics, kick
the habit of cynicism disguised as cleverness, scrap the resentment and the
rivalries, ditch the dated doctrines, risk imperfection,
and simply — for at least a little while — choose feeling over thinking.
Get quiet and listen to your allies in Egypt, when
“We stand with you not just in your attempts to bring down the old but
to experiment with the new. We are not protesting. Who is there to protest to?
What could we ask them for that they could grant? We are occupying. We are reclaiming
those same spaces of public practice that have been commodified, privatized
and locked into the hands of faceless bureaucracy, real estate portfolios, and
police ‘protection’. Hold on to these spaces, nurture them, and let the
boundaries of your occupations grow.”
Experiment with the new…
Of course, OWS is not perfect and some occupants act like assholes and mistakes
have been made (and will continue to be made). I’m not suggesting anyone
march in lockstep but jesus-occupied-christ, how about a little more patience
and cohesion on the Left?
The future doesn’t send text messages
We can’t be as indifferent or leisurely as those who came before us. They didn’t
think urgently enough about future generations so now we have to work twice
as hard. It sucks, I know, but this not an issue of fairness. It’s about survival.
Returning to Anais Nin and the opening quote: It’s time to blossom.
Even with all the fear, pain, dread, and uncertainty we may (or may not) experience
while blossoming, remaining tight in the bud is no longer an option…for
us or for the planet.
So, please ask yourself: What unique gifts do I possess that I can share — as
soon as possible — with the
growing OWS movement? The call has been made so surrender your list of preconditions
and just leap. Who knows, a net may even appear.
Listen again to our compatriots in Cairo:
“Our only real advice to you is to continue, keep going and do not stop.
Occupy more, find each other, build larger and larger networks and keep discovering
new ways to experiment with social life, consensus, and democracy. Discover
new ways to use these spaces, discover new ways to hold on to them and never
give them up again. Resist fiercely when you are under attack, but otherwise
take pleasure in what you are doing, let it be easy, fun even. We are all watching
one another now, and from Cairo we want to say that we are in solidarity with
you, and we love you all for what you are doing.”
On that note of solidarity, I beseech you to rise above your urge to critique,
your need to be right, your fear of the unknown…and just listen.
It’s not about purity. It’s not about who did what or said what first.
It’s not about following a predetermined game plan. It’s not about waiting
for the ideal time to jump on board. It’s a fuckin’ revolution — in
the name of all life on earth — so shrug off the excuses and get involved.
The anti-slavery movement recognized that some things in life are bigger than
any of us. Today, the entire planet is enslaved…to profit-seeking, landbase-consuming
and the corrupt politicians they own (yes, including the
vaunted Pope of Hope). Thankfully, this generation’s abolitionists are choosing
to take a stand and create change. Not ask for change, create
change. And they need your support. They need you.
Silence the sirens of archaic archetypes, open your minds to new configurations,
and heed the call of the future. I promise it’ll be a lot more fun that
you ever imagined.
Mickey Z. is the author of 11 books, most recently the novel Darker
Shade of Green. Until the laws are changed or the power runs out, he
can be found on an obscure website called Facebook.
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