“There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
As the eloquent Ms. Nin explains above, there is such a thing as a pain threshold. In the struggle for social change, this may be the point at which inaction become more agonizing than the fear we all harbor about stepping up and challenging this destructive culture.
I’ve often wondered when we will collectively decide that we’re less afraid of the State than of living on a planet without trees, without drinkable water, without arable land, without a hint of justice. Thanks to Occupy Wall Street (OWS) and all related efforts, this moment is getting closer with each passing day and in that spirit, I’ll say ssssshhhhhhh…
Silence your cell phones, your TVs, silence the noise in your head…and just listen. Listen carefully. Can you hear it? It’s a cry from the future, a mournful plea begging us to capture this moment. Can you hear it? Will you hear it? Or have you gotten so accustomed to losing that you choose instead to cover your ears, bury your head—finding endless excuses and myriad methods to ignore and/or discredit the effort?
Listen again. Listen closer. This is probably our last, best chance…it’s nothing less than the call to global revolution. How will you answer?
Up till now, perhaps only 1% of the 99% have even heard the call and I’ll get to them in a minute. This is for the other 98%:
There was a time when human slavery was believed too deeply entrenched in American culture to ever be abolished. But the movement to end this “peculiar institution” was made up of individuals willing to recognize that some things in life are bigger than any of us.
Whether they literally risked their lives by rescuing slaves and running the Underground Railroad or played a role by sewing clothes or blankets for escaped slaves or lending financial support or handing out pamphlets or even writing books like Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the effort needed every single one of these brave humans doing their part—small or large.
What seems impossible and irreversible today can be addressed if we’re willing to wake up and do the hard work. If we’re willing to stop making excuses for the reprehensible leaders (sic)—both political and corporate—who profit from our complacency.
So, the next time you’re about zone out to a Will & Grace re-run, why not do some deep contemplation instead? Take a good, long look into your heart and an even longer look at the choices you make all day, every day—not from place of guilt and shame but with a sense of revelation. Accept the challenge to be better a human being, a more responsible earthling.
Nothing will change until we change our minds but it takes courage to perform self-examination. It takes courage to accept everything you know just might be wrong. For the record, it takes far more courage to do this than to willingly enlist to be paid to wage illegal and immoral wars.
It’s not the volunteer mercenaries in places like Afghanistan who are fighting for our freedom. It’s OWS.
Some perspective for the other 1%…
Maybe 1% of the 1% who have heard the call are opting to discount its urgency for reasons ranging from isolated incidents of sexism-racism-classism to word usage to (possibly) being bitter and jealous that their hard work never captured the public’s attention as OWS has. There are even some activists expending energy hating on the drum circles. #huh?
You spend much of your life contemplating social change but when the revolution makes an unannounced appearance, you choose to downplay it? Perhaps the noise of displaying superior vision is drowning out the desperate call for help. If so, I suggest:
De-occupy the grad school dissertations, reject the fascism of semantics, kick the habit of cynicism disguised as cleverness, scrap the resentment and the rivalries, ditch the dated doctrines, risk imperfection, and simply—for at least a little while—choose feeling over thinking.
Get quiet and listen to your allies in Egypt, when they pronounce:
“We stand with you not just in your attempts to bring down the old but to experiment with the new. We are not protesting. Who is there to protest to? What could we ask them for that they could grant? We are occupying. We are reclaiming those same spaces of public practice that have been commodified, privatized and locked into the hands of faceless bureaucracy, real estate portfolios, and police ‘protection’. Hold on to these spaces, nurture them, and let the boundaries of your occupations grow.”
Experiment with the new…
Of course, OWS is not perfect and some occupants act like assholes and mistakes have been made (and will continue to be made). I’m not suggesting anyone march in lockstep but jesus-occupied-christ, how about a little more patience and cohesion on the Left?
The future doesn’t send text messages
We can’t be as indifferent or leisurely as those who came before us. They didn’t think urgently enough about future generations so now we have to work twice as hard. It sucks, I know, but this not an issue of fairness. It’s about survival.
Returning to Anais Nin and the opening quote: It’s time to blossom. Even with all the fear, pain, dread, and uncertainty we may (or may not) experience while blossoming, remaining tight in the bud is no longer an option…for us or for the planet.
So, please ask yourself: What unique gifts do I possess that I can share—as soon as possible—with the growing OWS movement? The call has been made so surrender your list of preconditions and just leap. Who knows, a net may even appear.
Listen again to our compatriots in Cairo:
“Our only real advice to you is to continue, keep going and do not stop. Occupy more, find each other, build larger and larger networks and keep discovering new ways to experiment with social life, consensus, and democracy. Discover new ways to use these spaces, discover new ways to hold on to them and never give them up again. Resist fiercely when you are under attack, but otherwise take pleasure in what you are doing, let it be easy, fun even. We are all watching one another now, and from Cairo we want to say that we are in solidarity with you, and we love you all for what you are doing.”
On that note of solidarity, I beseech you to rise above your urge to critique, your need to be right, your fear of the unknown…and just listen. It’s not about purity. It’s not about who did what or said what first. It’s not about following a predetermined game plan. It’s not about waiting for the ideal time to jump on board. It’s a fuckin’ revolution—in the name of all life on earth—so shrug off the excuses and get involved.
The anti-slavery movement recognized that some things in life are bigger than any of us. Today, the entire planet is enslaved…to profit-seeking, landbase-consuming corporations and the corrupt politicians they own (yes, including the vaunted Pope of Hope). Thankfully, this generation’s abolitionists are choosing to take a stand and create change. Not ask for change, create change. And they need your support. They need you.
Silence the sirens of archaic archetypes, open your minds to new configurations, and heed the call of the future. I promise it’ll be a lot more fun that you ever imagined.