Occupy Your Heart

   With the second aniversary of the start of the Occupy Wall Street movement approaching, I decided to post something I wrote during a time when the movement was reeling from the November 2011 Gestapo-like raid by NYPD mercenaries.

   I slept in Zuccotti Park for six weeks and felt love and understanding flow the entire time. This, despite the fact that there were many groups of people with differing ideas on what needed to be done to extricate the U.S. from the tangled web of corruption, deceipt and intolerance that STILL prevents us from evolving into a civilized society.

    The only violence I witnessed was initiated by members of NYPD or an occasional outburst from a rabid believer in the dogma of Capitalism who was provoked into a self-examination that proved to be too ugly to acknowledge.

   While the leg-humping propaganda by corporate media continues to portray the OWS movement as a failure, what many fail to understand is that it was not meant to be a political party that immediately affected the legislative process. It was a movement of awareness. Before September 17, 2011, the talking heads were discussing the “need” to balance the budget by ruthlessly cutting social programs while continuing corporate welfare through tax breaks for the wealthy. Afterward, people started talking about the injustice of balancing the budget on the backs of the working class. We started to hear people on television talk about the widening “salary gap” and “income gap”, people without health care, crumbling infrastructure and the obscene corporate profits that have contributed to all of it.

   What the U.S. people need to do is to not forget about that inspirational time of grace and humanity. We can’t allow insensitivity to re-entrench itself in our hearts. We need to be patient and take the next steps necessary to insure a place in our society for justice and compassion. I’m reminded of something written by Robert Louis Stevenson:

   “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.”

   If we don’t water those seeds of awareness, we’ll never enjoy the fruits of truly being human.

                              WHAT DOES DEMOCRACY LOOK LIKE?  

   “You need to know this. The Occupy Wall St. demonstration turned into a crackdown on Wall St. as NYPD officers disrupted a peaceful march across the Brooklyn Bridge and arrested more than 700 people…”

    I was watching the Thom Hartman Show and was stunned as I learned that the protest on Wall St. I’d heard about two weeks before was still going on. I’d originally thought it was a one day event.

   ‘An occupation? Brilliant!’, I thought as I packed a bag and headed for a train into Manhattan. NYPD had used “kettling” to corral a group of patriots who risked bodily harm to illuminate the shameless injustices permeating society as if they were wandering animals. This instantly turned me into an OWS supporter. It did the same for others – galvanizing many different people from varied backgrounds to a common goal of taking our government back from a manipulative section of society who’ve usurped fortunes from the destroyed dreams of the working class for far too long. The corporate “rulers” who have engineered our society of well-behaved lab rats have a history of well organized crime piled upon well organized manipulation going back centuries – from trading weapons and slaves to drugs and money laundering (also known as banking.) But that’s a story for another time.

    This is a story about an answer. Not an answer to end the corruption itself, but hopefully an answer to the question of how and why so many people in the U.S. have no idea how dysfunctional we are as a society. And, why so many don’t seem to care about anything outside their own selfish desires. There exists a societal suicide today that is sickeningly obvious to all who open their hearts and minds.

   We need to examine our collective perception of this problem and come up with ideas to work toward a solution. Too many of us are quick to put the responsibility on others and not see our own part in this travesty. We are blinded by rampant apathy and complacency while a lack of moral obligation leaves what was previously a democracy nothing more than a putrid carcass festering on the side of the road.

   We all need to acknowledge our part because it could not have happened without the population allowing it. If more people paid attention to the workings of what is supposed to be a government of the people, we wouldn’t be in this hellish predicament. Instead, we’ve allowed a government of the corporations to entrench itself on a level that guarantees this corporate “elite” a permanent lock on the election and legislative processes in the U.S. This has created a vicious cycle in which the hopes and dreams of the majority are crushed beneath the wheel of conformity and acquiescence.

   Something sparked inside my heart that day as I realized that a number of my fellow citizens had awakened from a slumber of detached acceptance. They’d finally had enough of the corruption – enough of the selling out of the masses for the sake of a sociopathic group who thought themselves better and more deserving than the rest of society. I felt hope that this insane system could be transformed into something more worthy of the human race.

   My first contact with OWS was while walking along Trinity Place, a few blocks from Liberty Plaza. I heard sounds emanating from Zuccotti Park that provoked deep feelings. It was primal. It was freedom of expression. It proclaimed a freedom from tyranny – social and political – and from the stressful problems of modern life. I felt a joy that lifted my spirit and gave me a feeling of community with a group of people I’d yet to meet. As I approached, I saw a huge crowd pulsing with the lively sound of a make-shift drum circle. People were banging out their emotions on bongos, congas, boxes, trash can covers and park handrails with wild abandon. Others were dancing and swaying – transfixed by the beat. There was an amazing level of energy – positive energy that was tempered by a feeling of peacefulness. There was a care-free feeling of love and compassion in the air that transcended the worries of everyday life. It was a perfect counterpoint to the well-oiled precision of the implacable, soul-crushing machine our society has become.

    I entered the park with an enthusiasm that was returned a thousandfold. I was greeted by smiles, hugs and kind words everywhere I turned. In the months that followed – before and after the NYPD raid in which people, animals and possessions were brutally discarded like garbage – I met people of many backgrounds, nationalities, religions and political ideologies. Differences were acknowledged and accepted. Ideas were exchanged in a way that I’d rarely experienced. I received an education in many areas of interest that opened my mind in a way that was both fulfilling and inspiring.

   My first experience with mainstream media after the start of the occupation was a startling education in and of itself. I was shocked and appalled by the incredibly unfair treatment given OWS by the fear industry hacks employed by the apostles of Capitalism. Of course, I didn’t expect open honesty from these purveyors of propaganda that have been indoctrinating the U.S. public in the dogma of the state religion for decades. I knew the Dogs of (Financial) War would never stand for that, but I expected a subtle increase in integrity for something so important for ALL of society.

Back at Zuccotti Park, the open discussions of many different viewpoints was a breath of fresh air. Socialists debated with Libertarians. Teachers, military veterans and construction workers discussed issues that mattered to them and their families. Some played songs of social awareness while others recited poetry or made political statements with performance art. It was a much more honest representation of a nation of varied citizenry than portrayed by the agents of misfortune on TV. The importance of this was never more obvious. Hope had become such a distant memory for so many people that this was assuredly what the country (and the world) needed at the time.

   The most vital change that can be brought about by an embracing of what OWS stands for is to raise awareness of what has happened to our political system. We need to pull aside the veils of corporate propaganda and get people to peer through the smoke of obfuscation. We need more people to realize it’s not acceptable to illegally invade and occupy sovereign nations to steal their resources – and then, call it “spreading democracy”. We need more people to question why we only “spread democracy” to nations with an abundance of resources that the rabid mongrels of Wall St. want to steal – usually oil, natural gas and rare minerals. We need more people to question why we allow so many of our young to die so that anti-democracy thugs from the oil industry can increase already obscene profits {$137 billion in 2011}. We need more people to question why we’ve occupied one country for over 10 years {so far} – killing and displacing millions of people so U.S. energy corporations can build a natural gas pipeline through it. This is nothing less than allowing business to direct our foreign affairs – placing the profits of the few over the well being of people around the globe and hiding it behind the disingenuous veneer of fighting terrorism. The perpetrators of these crimes against humanity are the true terrorists.

   And that only covers some of our international crimes. For decades we’ve helped install war criminals and drug dealers in positions of power throughout the world. This has been done solely for the promise of friendly business opportunities with U.S. corporations. This is known as Fascism in the rest of the world. Here in the U.S., it’s known as “business as usual”.  

   Meanwhile, here at home we have many domestic problems to tackle. To start with the problem which has enabled most of the others to proliferate, we have allowed corporations to purchase our election process. The White House has been the residence of Wall Street friendly administrations since the conservative revolution (de-evolution) of 1981. The cleverly manipulative team of Reagan Inc. set in place a systematic destruction of the rights of the working class in the U.S. – and the rest of the world.

This war against the productive class has steamrolled through human carnage in more sinister ways ever since.  And, Congressional seats are virtually sold to the highest bidder thanks to corporate-friendly legislation allowing unlimited spending in political campaigns. The 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United vs. Federal Elections Commission case equated limiting campaign contributions with infringement of free speech and bestowed “personhood” to corporations. Five of the nine justices came to these conclusions despite the fact that monetizing free speech {oxymoronic at best} would allow the so-called “free speech” of wealthy individuals to completely drown the free speech of the large majority of people in this country. Adding to this the granting of corporate personhood, corporations are now allowed additional speech as entities unto “themselves” separate from the already assured rights of the wealthy individuals who run them.

   It’s been said that media is the nervous system of a democracy. If this is true, the U.S. is suffering from a serious nervous system disorder. Allowing a select few corporations to hold so much power and responsibility is tantamount to giving them free reign in directing U.S. government policy.

   It is my hope – and the hope of many others – that through relentless activism and community outreach, OWS will shine a light on these issues that can’t be ignored by the corporate media or the government. If enough people receive proper information about what Occupy Wall Street is striving to achieve there will be significant change in the direction we take as a society. A well informed public can make more thoughtful decisions in the voting booth which would lead to a government more responsive to the needs of the people. And, after all…THIS is what democracy should look like.

2 comments on “Occupy Your Heart

  1. It’s not often one gets to experience history in the making. The use of tear gas at the Oakland camps has not been part of the national conversation, despite all the talk of the evils of chemical weapons in Syria. The state showed it’s willingness to exercise it’s power at Zuccotti Park and the other major camps and gave us a preview of what democracy will look like in the near future. Thanks for your thoughtful analysis and sharing of your firsthand experiences at Occupy Wall Street, they are much needed.

  2. Yes, while many people thought of OWS as a left wing version of the tea party wackadoos, others were aware that it was potentially history in the making. Few people know that someone from the Library of Congress was in Zuccotti Park just days before the raid making plans to archive the 5,500 book OWS library. Mayor Bloomberg and his Wall St. buddies decided that was unacceptable. The priority of the private security guards that maintained a presence in the park 24 hours a day after the raid was to stop the exchange of information. While they couldn’t prevent people from handing out leaflets, they definitely made it as difficult as possible for people to exercise that thing called “free speech”. Also, NYPD made a point of completely smashing every laptop computer that was confiscated that night before they were thrown in dumpsters. It’s sad that so few people realize that the violence done to fellow U.S. citizens made a mockery of the U.S. Constitution that they are so proud to talk about, but so loathe to defend. Thanks for the comment. Peace.

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