Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Quote for the Day

Here is a quote from an activist that spoke as one of the opening speakers at the beginning of October2011 in DC.  She was inspiring.

“So when people ask you your one demand say “Democracy.” And when they ask you why you’re here, say, “To be here”. And they’re not going to get that because they never get that. They think that democracy is a monument or an institution or a dead document, but it ain’t. Democracy is what people do. And so we’re here to do democracy, right? And we’re not going to leave until we’ve got it. And we’re going to leave and keep on doing it. Because this isn’t just an occupation, this is a decolonization. We’re here to take back everything they’ve taken from us. We’re here to get them out of our minds, out of our public spaces. We’re here to get our voice back, we’re here to get our homes back, we’re here to get our dignity back, and we’re not going to leave. I want that to happen. I want to one day be able to . . . say I like myself because I like my world. So let’s get started everyone.” Ashley Sanders

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Where I've Been and Where Should We Go Next?

I haven't been posting much since getting ready to go to my daughter's wedding in Phoenix as well as immediately after, going to the October2011 demonstration in Washington DC for a couple of days and then back home to Oklahoma, with a few days rest on a farm in Cynthianna KY where I breathed deeply and watched the leaves turn.  Ahhhhhhhhh.....

Since getting back, I have been trying to get back into the regular scheme of  things while keeping track of OccupyWallStreet and Occupy everything or anything else or where ever.  That sounds funny but it really isn't.
This whole movement is organic and seemingly unorganized.  It is unorganized.  Why?

The way I see it, we have a planet full of the 99% of the population that actually has very little power over their lives.  On top of that, we are beginning to understand that even in developed countries where we thought we were working to create justice and equality for all our fellow citizens, something is not working the way we told ourselves it was.  We are finding out what those in the undeveloped countries have know since humans first started living together in permanent communities, the system is rigged and has been rigged by a few of us to their own advantage.

There have always been those who are driven to seek power over their fellow humans because they find it   frightening to realize they are dependent on others for safety, existence, food, shelter, and a place in a community, a community of individuals they feel they have no control over.  This is a truth that a healthy person comes to terms with over their lifetime.  We are a creature that seeks to manipulate it's environment in order to optimize its survival.  But no matter how much we accomplish, most of us accept the fact that individually we cannot have complete or even much control, so we will die.  Being a conscious animal makes life a very scary proposition.  Your pet dog doesn't worry about it.  Humans invented religion, art, history, government, all to try and come to terms with death and control.

Most other animals slowly evolve new genes to deal with changes and threats from their surroundings. Humans evolved the ability to change their surroundings.  It is faster. We have an innate drive to make our surroundings work for us.  This allowed us in the past to move beyond any specific environmental system.  We go everywhere and anywhere!  Even the moon for short periods.  But being conscious and scared, some small percentage of us are compelled to seek and accumulate the most power over everything they can, including their fellows, their community, their environment.  We will call them the "Power Hungry."  They are too scared to play fair.  The Power Hungry have no trust that existing in a community of humans is the safest we can be.  They get no feeling of security when they look at the living systems of this planet and how they provide the optimum environment for the most efficient use of all resources here.  The Power Hungry are pretty sure they can do better, especially for themselves.

The Power Hungry choose to work behind the scenes.  They like the dark.  They keep secrets.  One journalist calls them Cockroaches which I believe is giving cockroaches a bad name.  Cockroaches have their place.  They do their job and do it well.  The Power Hungry on the other hand don't truly know what they are doing.  They are some of the less functional of us.  When we all lived in tribes or small villages, we could keep an eye on them.  They may possibly have a use in a community of varied individuals.  But the Elders could spot them a mile away as they developed through puberty.  And I bet the community knew how to keep them in their place. Now they are not obvious or out in the open.  They are harder to find and train when young.  I'm sure past elders, when they noticed Power Hungry young had to work extra hard to teach them what the rest of us managed to learn at our mother's knee.

We are as safe as we can be.  Our security comes from our community.  We care for each because every one has something to offer, something we need.  As a social animal with a conscious brain, we created a concept of "justice" that is built into our genes.  We care for our own.  But there is more about justice we also figured out.  First of all, we can increase our vision to include larger communities.  We organized into towns and cities, areas of cultural similarity, groups with similar looks or similar beliefs.  These became our larger communities.  Eventually these became countries and nations.  Homosapiens even began to see our species as a group to which we all belonged and increased our concept of "justice" to include the whole human race, deriving a sense of security from the idea that if we could assure justice for all, if we cared for all, we would be even safer.

  Our communities are also embedded in a living system that has a kind of justice of its' own.  Each cosmic ray, each element, each cell, each creature, each unique environment takes part in a bottom to top system of relationships, existing in time to organize the parts into a whole, into a working system that optimizes the functioning of the whole.  Everything happens because it works or it wouldn't be happening.  We as individuals, are part of a much larger system optimizing the workings of the whole.  There are no guarantees for the individual or even each community except that each relationship is just exactly as important as any other.  This is as good as it gets.  This is as fair as is possible.  Most of us can live with this and do so everyday, hoping our progeny survive, or our community, our country, our species, our knowledge.  We know any of these may disappear or be changed or replaced.  Life is worth it.  Being a part of a larger, responsive, self sustaining biological system is worth the risk.  Ultimately we rest our hopes on the planet itself continuing though even that is a risky  proposition when considered over eons of time.

Now we are learning that the Power Hungry, frightened individuals who cannot live with the truth of reality have worked to make our community systems work against the whole to their advantage.  The risk of living is frightening enough without others unbalancing the systems we thought we had put in place to keep everything fair and balanced.  Granted, none of us have been perfect.  We all tend to take more than we need when feeling insecure.  The species as a whole has been terribly hard on the living systems of the planet and my possibly have taken the pressure beyond what the planet can handle.  It looks like we may have lived ourselves out of a place here and our loss will prove to be just another somewhat larger adjustment in the  relationships that make up the total biosphere.  But the problems have been made worse by the Power Hungry down through civilized time.

Most all of us accept our risky place in reality which is not to say that we don't bitch and moan and try our hand at occasionally wresting just a bit more for ourselves or our children.  We are usually too busy living everyday doing what homosapiens do to spend much time on power accumulation. We believe we are a just society which provides some security and our living environment is as fair as can be.  But there are those who become obsessed with a desire to accumulate power and/or possessions in order to have better odds than everyone else.  They aren't concerned with fairness or justice because they are cowards and cannot face what the rest of us live with everyday. We face the fact that living is risky, it is a gamble that each will loose in the end. The harder certain individuals work to make themselves safer than the rest, the harder they rig the system so that it becomes unfair and the balance is disturbed, the less secure we all are, including themselves.

Now many of us are compelled to try and take power back for the community as a whole where it belongs.  We want life to be just and fair as it is possible to make it.  We want a level playing field where we care for one another and the planet in order to optimize the living possibilities within the system of life that mediates, balances and optimizes the resources of the planet.  We believe there is enough for all.  We believe we can figure out a way to protect a sustainable living system on the planet that will keep us and all life forms, large and small as safe and secure as can be since it appears diversity is the best indication of resiliency and sustainability in all living systems.  So besides demonstrating, occupying, and letting the world know that we see what is happening, what can we do?

If the individuals in the demonstrations cannot voice a demand, it is because there is nothing we can demand from the Power Hungry that is theirs to give.  Can and would they take us back 30 years, 65 years, 100 years,  or 200 until we found a point where we let them go wrong?  Did anyone back then, know we were not going in the right direction?  Were our choices always dictated by the Power Hungry?  How long have they been accumulating power?  Or did the social systems we put into place just naturally tend to take us in the wrong direction?  Much good has been accomplished and we don't want to give up our discoveries and inventions.

It seems the #OWS activists have something else in mind.  I think they are teaching and learning, passing on knowledge that some have discovered and practicing a different way of running things.  They are leaving things open so that we don't jump on the first idea that comes along.  We can't know what will work because we haven't done it yet.  Or maybe we have but we forgot.  So we are trying to remember.  Everyone needs to remember.  And we need to tell each other what we have found.  We need to question everything and we need to discuss the latest discoveries in life and social sciences which don't agree with what we have been told.  Economics is not a science for one thing.  

Here is a quote I really identify with by  Indian author and activist Arundhati Roy when he spoke at the 2003 World Social Forum:
"Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness -- and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we're being brainwashed to believe. The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling -- their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability."

I would add, "question authority," a bumper sticker from my day and one of my favorites.  You don't necessarily have to be disrespectful, you just need to examine it until you determine if it does or does not agree with what you know from experience.  Remember this example,  the Inuit have words for dozens of types of snowfall that we can't even see because everyone around us, never mentioned it, ignored it.  It wasn't important like it was to an Inuit native.  Our brains work in such a way that we don't notice what is not important.  That would be too much information.  We take our cues first from our parents and the adults we are around when we are children, then from other people in authority.  At some point in our development,  it is good to reexamine many of the assumptions we acquired early in our lives.  
We should use our own experience to inform us what is important to attend to.  Every moment, you can discover what you are doing that you thought was inevitable.  Examine their stories, their history, their truths.  Every action you take can be conscious, chosen, on purpose.  Nothing you do needs to be done thoughtlessly.  Your life can be chosen for you or you can make your own choices.  The only way you can be truly powerless is continue to be asleep, a zombie, a puppet.  All the knowledge you acquire and compare to your experience, the ideas you question, the actions you choose to take are power you retain for yourself in a life that is essentially uncontrollable.  You have already proven yourself to be braver than the Power Hungry, what else can you do?