Chief Heavy Stick Walks Lightly
We are presently witnessing the incipient bellowings of a people’s revolution, borne of the muscular might of the many. One not altogether new in theory, but radically wider in scope and intention than previous localized or nationalized resistances. The objective may appear to be closer than it really is as the right-wing caricature of a reefer-blunted zombie mob mentality gives way to the steady mechanics of a global grass roots movement patiently building the tempo, gradually stockpiling an arsenal of information systems. We the people are manifesting the unripened fruits that were shaped by the race riots and psychedelic awakenings of the 60’s generation and the civil disobedience prescribed by the likes of King Jr., Ghandi, and Thoreau and are rooted in the formative uprisings of the American and French Revolutions. The spirit of this “Occupation” hoists the triumvirate heraldry of “liberty, equality, fraternity” and is incited to restore justice through civil disobedience or even fierce resistance to authority, as is our inalienable right
Even with the noblest intentions protests and resistance movements are often reduced to anarchy’s nihilistic aggression. These reclamations of “taking back what is rightfully ours” are a double-edged sword and no sooner than the previous power structure is toppled, but an ascending authority gains control with a new set of programs and entitlements. Inasmuch as these new regimes wield similar hierarchy and hypocrisy they are yet absolutely necessary to progress and define the trial and error approach of the scientific establishment, which really gained traction in these 18th century eruptions. The conscience- and prescience- of democracy has laid the foundation for a Pandora’s box of truth to be seized upon by an empowered populus.
Of these truths, here lies the cornerstone: property is not real, but imagined. The borders we create around things so as to define the difference between ours and theirs, yours and mine, his and hers, are merely mental subdivisions of a world completely whole, in absolute oneness. In other words, “Mi casa es su casa,” really means “what’s mine is yours,” and reciprocally, “yours is ours”. Let’s return to where it all began, before Rome made it their business to be everyone’s currency, and the ultimate fork in the road.
From the wild we emerge as primitive human beings, originally nomadic, free to roam. Progressively agriculturalized we root our homes into the earth and begin the variable process of determining where my homestead meets your homestead, my crop meets your crop, my ideologies meet or cross yours. As history (and herstory?) gains momentum we coagulate into these fiercely fought over jurisdictions, these tenuously outlined occupancies (and vacancies). We have chosen, consciously or not, to create division between ourselves and our neighbors and subsequently enclose our homes into restricted space.
Analogously, our globe is compartmentalized into ordered rows of cultural distinctions as though the earth were itself a segregated guard-en. Arabs, Asians, Africans, Indians, Islanders, and Europeans, and all of their constituent varietals thriving in their appropriated terrain and climates. Through technology and improved communications, however, we all commingle into a single virtual community whereby the walls that previously restricted our ambient spirits from freely moving are made impotent and remain merely as a symbol of the old guard. From the Iron Curtain to the Great Wall, we’ve deconstructed the antiquated defense systems that have inadvertently caused offence (viz. A really high fence is the passive counterpart to an aggressive military).
As these first revolutions were marked by massive bloodshed, the message became clear that a new world order was renouncing the intolerance and despotic control that had long held our lives in an unbalanced check. In a fledgling America, taxation without representation felt increasingly condescending and an unmotivated monarchy parked on the other side of the Atlantic was no longer sufficient in its authority to contain the inhabitants of an uncharted new world. These early settlers were characterized by gumption and resilience that were scarce in their ancestral country. They crossed what was medievally surmised to be an oceanic plunge into an horrid abyss with a ruddy temperament, fighting through course conditions, surviving ruthless winters to cultivate the undying promise that each new spring represented. Their dreams were continually cut down and chopped up, burnt into ash, and churned into the soil to nourish the destiny that was not theirs to manifest, but for the seeds they sowed. These were an earthen folk; tested daily by the rigorously harsh environment they chose to call home, proudly facing the prospect of death with determined grit. These were not a people who would long stand for unmitigated tyranny and oppression from a source other than mother nature. They’re spirits were borne of individualism, comradery, common sense and divine purpose. It was only a matter of time before the British throne became the thorn in their American rosebud.
The religiously suffocated politics that held court in the old world were annulled by the founding fathers of the Great American Experiment and the process began to adopt the blind misgivings of an orphan child state. From slavery to polygamy, child labor to women’s inequality (not to mention the egregious raping and pillaging of the Native Americans whose venerable homelands were stripped away like clothes off their back), a wide range of unsustainable practices, ranging from malevolent to misunderstood, were allowed to flourish. Yet, when the erosion of humanity or convention became so pronounced and had laid bare the roots of our country’s noble conception, we shored up our gross perversions and confronted the human error that threatened our essential principles. We have always encouraged discussion and demanded a straightforward answer; it is our intellectual dignity. When this democratic process is not dignified, we have shown our will to force the issue. Out of careless treatment or ingratiating hubris has come a responsive wave of demonstrations, strikes, and protests, which gather into organized campaigns, unified marches, or workers unions, and eventually change policies, rules, and the course of human history.
So here we are, nearing the end of 2011 and we are feeling the quiet tremors of a global awakening. Departing from what appears to have been a dream (or a nightmare) we are slowly perceiving the morning light creeping in and behind it a call to action. We had fallen into a deep slumber inside a wormhole of modern technology, plugged in like the machines we designed. We’d tuned out the external world, insulated inside an artificial pleasure pod, grown apart from our natural habitats, accustomed to the zoo we’d collectively created, each of us an exhibit to be seen, but never truly touched. We are like domesticated beasts, regaining our natural instincts as we make our triumphant return to Eden.
Yet, Eden is no longer a reality. The jungle as we know it is paved in concrete. And we are not beasts, but intelligent beings, endowed with reason and imagination. It is foolish to wish to return to our natural state in the wilderness. We have emerged for the better (or worse), for good, once and for all, to evolve and become reflections of our environments as they reflexively evolve beside us. But herein lies the fall of man. It is this reflection, at once narcissistic and self-loathing, that has become the ultimate obstruction to our progression as creatures of freedom and self-fulfilling joy.
Our world is our representation as the philosopher so simply put it. The world is what you make of it. And what we’ve made of it is a power and profit-driven pyramid scheme, built on the sweat and tears of an economic sub-class kept on a god-lovin’ leash, constrained through fear to remain inferior, consumed by devices so that we won’t ask what it all is for- the great Why?. We have been spoon-fed religion, politics, and our basic standard of living. We have readily digested mass produced, nutrition-depleted food, and simultaneously transformed into poll-steered karaoke machines regurgitating uninspired corporate sponsored music. We have been told how to think, to dress, to look and act, and what beauty is defined by, at the expense of creating an entire culture of ugliness. We have been ipod shuffled into a cattle chute, paying for health and fitness comprised primarily of hamster wheels, stationary movement machines, and mirrors to reinforce a superficial definition of strength. And then when all else fails, we have built a synthetic drug empire to counteract any physical frailty or mental disorder, and then criminalized herbal remedies that grow naturally from rain, soil and sunshine. We’re only now becoming aware of the financial finagling that has kept hard-working citizens chasing their tail so that they never get ahead, treading floodwaters in a house whose mortgage is underwater. Of course we didn’t see the market meltdown coming, WE’VE BEEN PREOCCUPIED!
Three years have passed since the modern-day financial disaster in the fall of 2008. Broad-sweeping bandages have been applied to stem the bull market’s bleeding, and we’ve allowed Wall Street’s momentous remission to lull us into a false sense of securities. It appears, by some statistical interpretations to be on an upward trend: less foreclosures and unemployment, more job growth, etc. Yet through all our perseverance and unfaltering optimism there continues to be little effect on our personal lives directly, and insomuch as larger financial institutions were allocated bailouts effectively, our own investments and savings accounts have barely scraped by. While company presidents and other high-ranking officials have been chastised by reproachful finger-pointing, they casually walk out the front door with handsome retirement and severance packages. The more outspoken of us have decried the unrepentant actions of these money lords and the federal government’s allowance process with fierce judgement. Only now have the remainder of us gathered ourselves into a cumulative snowball of frustration and contempt…as the winter settles in.
The impetus of the Arab Spring has explicitly announced the powerful immediacy of mass communication-or social media- platforms such as YouTube, Twitter and Facebook in organizing youth-powered democratic campaigns and demonstrations. As the thirty year old Egyptian monarch relinquished the reins to the massive uprising that daily gained force and focus, the neighboring Arab states’ leaders took notice as their own denizens began administering support for the protests via these connective websites. Then the British riots that scourged London and its encompassing townships in midsummer with juvenile violence and vandalism, channeling a selfish deceit that oftentimes taints the peacefulness of these movements, also went viral over these networks. These British wanks, televised all over YouTube, have become representative of those malignant forces that surface in the haste of action without forethought and discipline. But there are many more who are not self-destructive, or criminally reactionary, and yet still feel the riotous tremors that charge both these vigilant and violent resistances.
The current Occupy Wall Street movement that has gathered followers in metropolitan cities, as well as smaller towns, all over the world, is building itself on the shifting principles of an evolving community, conversing daily on the intentions and progress of their local and larger purpose. As these small encampments grow into throbbing cities within cities with a wide distribution of age, race, and political currents, complete with food, utilities, and mounting financial resources, they open the floodgates for their own municipalities and the dependents that would seek refuge in these provisions. As this process gains traction the idealism of resistance is complicated in the persistence of an ongoing effort. We are witnessing democracy in real time and clearly it is far from perfect in actuality, but as with any relationship founded on equality and transparency there are invariably growing pains resulting from the harshness of unfiltered truth. This modern demonstration is certainly not the first (nor the last) of its kind, but it stands apart from similar previous campaigns in the extent of its reach, the continuity of its vision- however diversely compelled its occupants are- and in the openness of its process. We are taking back what is, and always has been, ours to repurpose for better, more creative use: public space.
Now as we rally in the streets- our concrete Eden- challenging the walls of corporate America with a bold affront to rank and file, we cunningly creep to the gates of prosperity and ring the bell to be admitted. Are we welcome? Are we trespassing? May we drink your tea? May we share in the delights that illuminate your surroundings? May I sit down? May I call you by your first name? May I call you my friend? My brother? Now if we are not to be so personal in relations, nay, even civil, I regret to regard you with despondence and distrust. Your shelter shields you from more than nature’s elements. You guard your precious gardens from the unappreciative eyes of the unrefined and hoard metal for your merits. When it comes time to die you’re buried with the dirt.
Privilege of privation causes deprivation. Your abundance creates scarcity and will not be tolerated by a vast global coup of cooperation between disenfranchised have-nots now entitled to the same information and know-how previously secured by patent protection, trademarking, and copyrights. Their dexterity in collectively manipulating these operating systems that have come to support our most essential infrastructures is far superior to any aristocratic stronghold. There is a massive reduction in property AND ownership as unions perennially whittle away at the trunk of the feudal tree. The dynamic of power has historically been defined less as follow the leader than direct the follower. We are only now stepping into our divine inheritance and becoming leaders of self. We are naturally endowed with god-like powers to be different and unique, and these are the sirens that lead others to stray from the conventional currents and become self-governed.
There is one frontier that can never be restricted absolutely and inside of it lies our greatest space (and time) to roam, uninhibited by reality’s uniformity. Our bodies have still not been imprisoned by any authentic social or governmental confinement (although our minds, arguably, have been compelled into conformity). We are divine beings endowed with free will and imagination, free to occupy the earth as we see fit. We are at liberty to discuss with whomever, about whatever, whenever we want to. We are empowered consumers, given a choice to purchase the designer retail or direct the currency into more responsible goods and services, even local, or maybe self-made. We are beautiful creatures, meant to be expressive. Our bodies and our minds are designed to be infinitely creative so recreation should be self-explorative for both the physique and the psyche. We do not need machines. As individuals, everything that we physically, mentally, and spiritually contain is more than we will ever need to not only survive, but to feel the immense joy of living larger than life. We do not need all this stuff that has been mass-produced and mass-marketed for mass hysteria, cheapened and discounted to steal into our homes, collecting dust on our shelf. We must purge the incessant urge to spend by striking down the sales pitch (or not swinging at the errant curve). So long as we choose to buy, we will be sold into a stocks and barrels slavery. It is necessary to deconstruct the corporate fortress with cooperative efforts and grass roots. Now we must respond to our noble calling and envelope the forbidden private properties with the infinite rainmaking of joyful recreation and undermine the roots of the establishment once and for all.
To all my brothers and sisters: we are each a leader of one, and all followers of all. We must sieze upon this magnanimous new day. March Forth!