We gathered almost a year ago believing that the movement that could end
corporate, military and capitalist hegemony had begun. We gathered in
massive waves and camped in public spaces saying "The first amendment is
our permit". We met each other, and people we didn't know came to us and
gave us money and food. The police state exercised its tactics on us.
Winter came and we hunkered down, meeting and planning and waiting for a
summer of actions. Spring came and we dispersed. Now, without public
introspection, without intentional, reflective self doubt, we pare down
to the few whose needs remain the top priority of the few who meet.
Where is Burlington Occupy going?
Even in the heady times of November and December, people found that the
movement did not embrace them, or their passions, and stopped showing
up. We worked hard during the winter, people left and new people showed
up, but we held on, trying, trying, to create something, to create many
somethings. What were we about? Marches? Community? Meetings? Sorting
out rank and privilege? We held on, motivated by each other, by the
press of injustice, by desires for and hopes of change, because we loved
what we could be, because we loved each other. Still, our ranks have
gradually thinned. GAs have been intermittent. Even our /reason d'etre/,
Direct Action, did not meet this last week.
It may seem impolite to express such concerns publicly. I have not been
known for being polite.
Perhaps, however, I have also been known for caring about Occupy
Burlington, for wanting it to succeed. Even when my own behavior did not
always help. So now I am asking.
Where is Occupy Burlington going?
There are reasons to care. You have yours. Mine begin with the premise
that no institution is worth saving which does not meet the needs of the
people of which it is made (and deciding this about Occupy, many have
left). Conversely, any institution, whose entire reason to exist is to
serve the goals of the people, is worth loving and nurturing. Is worthy
of my commitment.
I am not part of the Occupy Movement because it is an instrument of
protest, though it is that. I am not part of the Occupy Movement to fill
my time or to practice community, though both of these are done. I am
part of the Occupy Movement because the Occupy Movement is the idea, the
construct, around which the world I want to live in can be built. I am
part of the movement because I need a community to build, because this
is the nucleus of the community I want to build, because I want to help
build the world-wide community of caring and justice. Because we are
world-wide, and if we are thoughtful, strategic and active, we can
define the future.
The forces arrayed against us are powerful, and appear to be winning
this round. Even the venerable NYC GA does not meet anymore. And, I
fear, if we do not resuscitate our movement, the loss will burden us for
years, possibly a generation, and grief for that loss will re-visit us
before we can again gather to act in solidarity. This is what power
wants for us.
To me, many other futures are possible. We can wait for the
self-emergent futures designed by power to happen, or we can step back,
and design our future, and act to make it happen.
I don't know how much agreement there is for my views. But here is what
I believe: If Occupy, as a movement, as a community and as a culture, is
worthy of our energy, it will survive and prosper only when we conceive
its purposes over a long span of time, over the full diversity of the
99%, and when we decide to underwrite the community with humility.
Occupy can succeed only if it exists to serve everyone, including those
who do not show up. Occupy can succeed only when we, individually, give
ourselves over to the whole. Only when we plan and act in a way that is
inviting and empowering to others.
In simple terms, if Occupy exists as a vehicle for your self-expression,
for you to do what you want to do, you will take more energy than you
give, and the people whose energy you are taking will leave. If Occupy
exists as something larger than yourself, as something whose survival
abets your own survival, as something you give to even when all you get
back is appreciation, as something whose survival is important by
*/itself/*, then people will come, the movement will grow, and we will
have a chance to define the future we want.
Thus I ask the question: Where do you want Occupy Burlington to go? What
does a prosperous, meaningful future look like to you?
*Please note that Visio...@burlingtontelecom.net will expire .
I have a new address, visio...@occupyburlington.org. *