Monday, December 05, 2011

Keep Occupying!

The #OWS movement is off the front page headlines...for the moment. The Occupy Wall Street encampment in New York City and those across the country have been mostly trashed and uprooted by a coordinated national campaign of violent repression...for the moment. But this is not over. And I'm not just saying that.

The movement is alive, and deepening all the time. There has been a sea change in political consciousness, and that continues filtering out across the roots and branches of society. As The Occupied Wall Street Journal says, "The Beginning Is Near." Protests and direct actions continue in NYC and nationally, building support for the notion of direct democracy. The words "Power to the People" have returned to life.

The movement of consciousness springing to life is not just the same old, same old. It's not just the shop-worn cliches and trite stereotypes and stale abstract ideas: it's the drive for human collective liberation returned to life, tidily encapsulated in the simple notion of the 99%.

One of the blogs I read is The Wild Hunt, a blog about the Neo-Pagan community that helps me to stay in touch with some of the ideas that have informed my own journey. Consider the editorial just published by its mainstay Jason Pitzl-Waters, "Occupying Everything" that concludes: "There have been those who’ve spent a lot of time pointing out that the Occupy movement has feet of clay, or has lost the moral high ground due to one incident or another, but I think such arguments miss the point. This isn’t about the good behavior of every Occupier, its about what needs to happen now. We need a shift in our priorities, we need the dramatic excesses of our current capitalistic system to be reigned in, and we need justice. I think modern Pagans have much to offer the Occupy movement, and that this movement has much to teach us in return. We are, after all, part of the 99% too. I know that there will be Pagans who disagree, who’ve written off the Occupy movement in one fashion or another, but I can no longer sit on the sidelines and pretend to have no opinion. For me, the Occupy movement is the movement I was waiting for during the anti-globalization protests of the 1990s, a true continuation of the work sparked by social justice pioneers like Dorothy Day, Gandhi, King, and Jane Addams. Now is the time for Pagans of a like mind to envision what our social justice looks like, to craft a theological and historical framework for a future where we have a voice, because that future is happening now. I guess what I’m saying is that we need to Occupy Paganism, and in turn, Occupy everything."

Pitzl-Waters understands, in a profoundly spiritual way, how the Occupy movement has resonated across society with a call for a world in which together we take back what is ours and then collectively share out of love, mutual respect, and responsibility.

I was at a meeting of Occupy Sunset Park, the organization that has sprung to life in my own Brooklyn neighborhood. A fellow emerging activist was saying how she felt the movement was reclaiming the notion of what is public, where parks and institutions are places that welcome and serve the communities in which they are located rather than act as fenced-off monuments to somebody's money.

I attended a terrific forum by the group Kasama which counts among its adherents one of the members of the Occupied Wall Street Journal editorial collective. Kasama is a profoundly radical communist organization but one that has approached the Occupy movement with creativity and respect. While I'm not sure they would use the word, I think they understand what a spiritual revolution OWS is engendering in peoples' consciousness. One Kasama leader described exactly how I feel: that for decades those of us who early in life awakened to consciousness as people yearning for social justice and human liberation — as revolutionaries — felt defeated; that the best we could hope for were lesser evils and retreating into living politically moral but isolated lives. And how the Occupy movement has changed everything, giving us back the hope and energy of what is possible.

We've experienced devastating one-sided class warfare for decades now, and finally the battle has been joined. People are opening their eyes and seeing. It's different now, from here on out.

For sure this has been recognized by the other side. The 1% understands what a threat looks like. The violent repression, the media manipulation, the attempts to subvert the movement, these have shocked people into paying attention to what's happening. But don't be fooled by the lack of headlines now. As the movement roots down into communities like mine we know there are plenty of obstacles in our path. But we also know what we can do, together.

#Occupy together; Spring is coming! Power to the people!

Photographs by me from the #OWS rally in New York City's Foley Square a couple days after the Zuccotti Park eviction


  1. With apologies to both Steinbeck and Shakespeare - "Now is the winter of our discontent, made glorious spring by these sons of New York."

    To Every Time There Is A Season:

  2. No apologies necessary, and, speaking of spirituality, that is always a great song.