Thursday, October 20, 2011

An Ill Harvest

Full Harvest Moon

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You've been following the Occupy Wall Street movement, haven't you? Maybe you've read some articles, seen John Stewart's take on the protests or forwarded along photos, videos and other information on Facebook. Maybe you even joined the a march, rally or protest in your local area. Or maybe, like me, you've felt some kind of way about the whole thing and didn't.

I've been very curious with myself trying to understand my ambivalence. I am in support of the movement, at least in many ways and as I see it. I believe that our political and economic systems funnel wealth and power to an elite few while disadvantaging a majority of people. I believe that citizen should protest when their government doesn't support their rights and needs and believe that government should play a roll in redistributing wealth, creating social safety nets and limiting the power of the wealthy. I believe we should be spending money on schools, public infrastructure and health care so that no one in this, the richest nation on earth, would be without the basics for survival and the ability to make their lives better. I really do believe all of that, and still, I didn't go down to Occupy Portland last week.

One of my concerns, valid or not, is that a rally and a protest are not going to change things. My organizer friends remind me that the point of a rally is not to change policy (though that does appear to be one aim of the Tahrir square-like Occupy Wall Street protest), but to show the public how much support there is for change and give activists time and space to talk, share ideas and boost morale. I guess those are good goals, but I wonder if it is the best way for me to spend my energy.

Ultimately, I see that our unjust system of politics and economics are the results of generations of decisions, very few of which had the explicit goal of giving some people advantage at the expense of others (some people will argue with me on that, I really don't believe in a group of old white guys sitting around trying to screw the rest of us [with the exception of women's fashion, they really are trying to screw us there]). We are currently reaping the harvest of short sightedness, putting personal material gain above all else and general unintended consequences. It is an ill harvest, but I don't really think we can put the apples back on the tree and hope for new ones before winter.

I am glad there are people who want to brave bad weather, giant crowds and pissed off, power drunk cops to protest. I am also glad there are people who want to counsel prisoners and volunteer in African refugee camps. I just don't think these are my ways of doing the work to fix things. The world needs all of us to do what we can to make it a better place but we need to discern where our efforts are best used, what we can sow to reap the best harvest. Maybe I was being lazy or scared or just crowd averse when I didn't go downtown last week. I spent the day reading about critical pedagogy and integrated curriculum in middle schools, cooking food from my garden and resting my body that wasn't feeling at the top of it's game. I don't have a witty sign to show for my efforts on October 6th, 2011 but I think I sowed some seeds that I will be able to harvest in the future. I hope my actions on that day, and all others, ripple out into the universe. And I hope the rain holds off on the Occupy folks, at least for another week or so.

How are you feeling about Occupy? Are there rallies and camp ins happening where you are? Are you forwarding stuff on social media or talking about it with your friends and family? How are you planting seeds of peace, justice and goodwill in your life? What harvests, good or ill, are you taking in these days? Has it started raining in your neck of the woods?

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Full Harvest Moon 2009: The Moon When Squirrels Throw Acorns at You (Inexplicably, my most viewed post. Ir has been viewed over 500 times, more than two hundred times more than my second most viewed post. Curiouser and curiouser.)

Full Harvest Moon 2010: Harvest Moon


Aldora said...

I never realized how empowered I would feel just by holding a homemade cardboard sign on the sidewalk. There's really something to be said for getting your body out there and interacting with the public.

I encourage you to give it a try!

Alyss said...


Thanks for your comment. I appreciate hearing your experience. At the same time, I hope you realize that my experience - of questioning, wondering and finding the things that are fulfilling and empowering to me - is an equally valid experience.

Where were you involved in the Occupy movement? Do you have a blog? How'd you find my blog? :)