Sunday, November 13, 2011

Occupy Your Mind

Occupy your mind

So they kicked the occupiers out of Victoria Park on the strength of a by-law. It doesn't seem right, somehow, does it? Not considering all the other by-laws that could use a little reinforcing from time to time. Still, there we are; the protesters were unceremoniously ousted and their belongings tossed, all without a violent retaliation or threats to occupy city hall or much of anything. It could well be that the London version of the Occupy movement has folded up and gone home.

What are we to make of this local experiment in civil disobedience? Did the activists achieve any of their goals? Hard to say, in part because it's a little difficult to tell exactly what the goals were. The Occupy movement is clearly an expression of the frustration felt by thousands around the western world that they have been excluded from the wealth of the super-rich. But aside from a sentiment that they want some of those riches too, there really seems to be very little focus to this movement.

We are a country at war - soldiers and civilians are dying, homes and lands destroyed, and the war is costing a fortune. The environment is collapsing, unemployment is rising and personal privacy is being invaded at every turn. Poverty is rampant and human rights are being eroded; children are abused and there is corruption and shocking dishonesty in the halls of power. There is, in other words, no shortage of things to be angry and outraged about; no lack of reasons to take to the streets in a show of protest, solidarity, and civil disobedience.

In order for any movement to have even the slightest chance of being noticed, much less taken seriously and drawing some favourable response from the great, silent majority, it must first win the hearts and minds of the people it’s trying to engage, and being unhappy because not everybody has the same amount of money is not doing it. Where are the songs, the poetry, the writers and the artists? Where are the great orators, the righteous, angry leaders and philosophers? How can we honestly expect a social movement without leaders and thinkers to drive any influence for significant change?

As things stand the Occupy movement is in danger of becoming silly - a camp-out for the wanna-be Starbucks generation. If this slide into insignificance is to be halted or even reversed, I recommend an immediate application of "Howl" by Allen Ginsberg, set to the music of Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, laced with several doses of "Steal this Book" by Abby Hoffman. Better still, cultivate your own prophets, artists, philosophers, and visionaries, pick a cause, then commit to it and make it stick.

None of this will be easy, but some day you may be able to say that you made a significant contribution to making the world a truly better, cleaner, more equitable, honest and harmonious place.

Good luck, and Peace.

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