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Monday, 2 July 2012

Doing Good



Our movement is young, and it can only gain traction when others join in. Despite what truth we may be confident of being in possession of, it is of no consequence if others aren’t standing with us, so we must be fully conscious of our image to the public and how our actions come across to others. Sure, many will hold onto their negative preconceptions of occupiers no matter what we do, and the corporate media and police state are aligned against us, but we aren’t trying to reach any of those factions. We are trying to reach those who still retain even the slightest ability to form opinions for themselves who, while still unknowingly receiving the bulk of their worldview from corporations, are able to reconsider things if shown evidence of an alternate narrative. This is why one of the main focuses of Occupies all across the country should be to simply DO GOOD. Of course the corporate media will neglect coverage or seek to discredit a movement which posits that the very idea of a “corporate media” is an oxymoron. But if occupiers, say, feed the homeless once a week, it empowers those who see it in the flesh to form their own opinions.

Just like a food bank or free clinic, every Occupy should be a boon to its surrounding community, not only for the purpose of building the “better world” we know is possible, but also to combat negative media stereotypes. Over time, these types of utterly non-controversial actions will go a long way in telling people the real story about not only Occupy, but of the inherently conflicted and self-serving motives of the corporate elite.          
 Global Coherence Initiative

It is an extremely tricky and difficult task to assimilate the varying perspectives present in any movement, but especially this one. Some occupiers are focused solely on campaign finance reform or raising the minimum wage by a few dollars. Others see the movement as portending a larger shift in global collective consciousness, serving as the bridge to a more enlightened human existence. Some occupiers seem fully absorbed by protest, mic-checking and banging pots outside rich people’s homes. Others are more interested in positive and sustainable actions designed to bring about the better world. Despite what might seem implied here, and despite my own inclination, I actually do not feel that one approach is superior to the other. That’s the beauty of Occupy – there’s room for everyone, and we’re all needed. However, I do feel it’s important for the movement to have a unifying vision and some sense of where it’s going. Overall, I’ve noticed that many occupiers do tend to be fairly reactionary, without an attendant vision of what an alternative should be if the object of their scorn were indeed to be done away with. Again, I am not dismissing this aspect of Occupy – it is vital. But it should only be one aspect. Part of the larger picture, not THE picture.
Community Gardens…This one is fairly obvious. I won’t go into detail here about why community gardens are a good thing, as I’m sure this is self-evident to most occupiers. I will say that the deeper inside the belly of the beast a community garden is, the more potential it has to do good and raise consciousness. A community garden in the middle of a financial center, or inner city, or across the street from City Hall as our local Occupy has begun to look into, can have a profound impact on the consciousness of the surrounding population and plant the seeds of an alternate story – a story not of mindless profit and consumption, but of community and contribution. Every local Occupy should put their name on a community garden, either by contributing to an existing one or starting their own. Occupy Vacant Lots and Occupy the Farm have taken the lead on this. Let’s follow them.
Transition Towns    I have no affiliation with Transition Towns, nor have I participated in one directly, but I think it’s a great idea and consistent with all the principles of Occupy, so check it out. Like the name implies, the goal is our transition to more connected, sustainable, resilient communities. Though I have to say, on first glance, most Transition Towns appear to be dormant and frankly uninspiring, with fortnightly meetings sharing gardening tips seeming to comprise the largest extent of their activities. But what Transition lacks in energy, it makes up in real-world practicality. Given that the exact reverse is the problem currently facing Occupy, every local Occupy would do well to get in touch and collaborate with their local Transition, if there is one.
Raising Consciousness.     No no, you can stop rolling your eyes. You don’t have to be spiritually inclined or ingest peyote to latch onto this one. Fairly self-evident, isn’t it? Any political or social action we’d like to take is only made possible with the support of a large segment of the population, and this can only be acquired from an increasingly aware and conscious populace. The civil rights movement was hopeless, until the majority of people recognized why it is to all our benefit to have a more just and inclusive society. While our tendency is to demonize those at the top – corrupt politicians, ruthless dictators – the fact is that these people are only granted their place at the helm by the grace of an unconscious population. Our activism against a corrupt system can only be successful if we are able to see its corruption for ourselves with our own refined consciousness, a process which I believe can be aided along most effectively with positive actions like the ones mentioned above, not to mention the hundreds of brilliant ideas I know the rest of us have been sitting on that are just waiting to see the light of day.