As the occupy movement has spread and quickly turned into a legitimate threat to the government, indeed to capitalism as a whole, I have been seeking to answer the following question: Who is an occupier?
According to the media, they are nothing more than a bunch of tent-dwelling ne’er do-wells. But since I’ve been doing it since day one, I know better.
We can start with the Adbusters initial clarion call to occupy Wall Street, and the subsequent support and endorsement of Anonymous. These two organizations would indicate that the movement is inherently anti-capitalism and pro-technology.
As an artist, musician, and sustainability advocate I assumed that I was naturally an occupier myself. And then I saw that the movement was considering itself “leaderless!” This is great for a number of reasons, most importantly being the fact that no one will have to get shot by the authorities. Organic is the best way for a social movement to be. An organic social movement cannot have a totalitarian/authoritarian system driving it. It must remain de-centralized, but move with common intent. Consensus is a farce; since it is simply an excuse for people to hinder progress. In a very real sense, the consensus process of the occupy movement is repelling others that might have been initially interested. But those that become bored with the general assemblies often find an affinity group, working group, or other community organization that allows them to do meaningful work around the periphery of the occupy movement.
Experience tells me that the most profound, and important work always happens at the fringes of society. The consequence of being on the fringe, however, is that there is no “limelight.” So good deeds and meaningful work go un-noticed by the mass media and the majority of the public. In a sad twist of culture, it is always the destruction that makes the news.
Is an occupier an anarchist? Many, but not all of them are. Is an occupier a communist? Some, but not many. Are there democrats? Yes. Are there republicans? Yes. Are there hippies? You bet. Are there bums? Of course. Are there mentally ill? “Crazy” is a word that many people have tried to label the occupy movement with, but I maintain that “crazy” should be reserved for people who think of nothing but money and material things.
There is a book that I donated to the Occupy SF library called The Moral Underground: How Ordinary Americans Subvert An Unfair Economy. This book is helpful in understanding the occupy movement. I believe that the occupy movement is actually the uprising of the moral underground. There are millions of young and old Americans like me that have been raised on the values of love, equality, freedom, compassion, non-violence, and we have quite frankly been a very silent witness to the increasing levels of inequality, oppression, hate, and destruction of our environment.
Enough is enough.
So, for me, to be an occupier is to acknowledge a rich history of human rights victories that cannot simply be forgotten or repressed. To be an occupier is to claim a place in this world that refuses to participate in systems of violence and hierarchy.
But first and foremost, to be an occupier you must first occupy your heart with love, and your mind with peace. Once you’ve done that, then you can manifest peace wherever you go. The only way to break the cycle of violence is to refuse to participate in it.
So, to all those that are occupying the moral way – I’m with you.