The Occupied WSJ
But this house of cards is built on one primary myth; that humans own the earth and have dominion over all its inhabitants.
These are the strategies that reinforce the myth:
First, it is necessary to isolate potential disciples of the cult from family and friends — in this case, the indigenous peoples of the earth and all other species. This disconnection is the key that keeps us locked inside the cult, which serves as our new family.
Second, the cult’s leaders create total dependency: to survive in this cult, we must serve the leaders who dangle the dream that one day we, too, may ascend the ladder of hierarchy to experience wealth and power.
Third, we are afraid to leave the cult because there is a belief that only poverty and isolation await us outside the group. To leave the group is to be stigmatized, criminalized and often institutionalized, or face homelessness and worse.
Isolated, dependent and afraid, we walk the streets of the walled city, buying temporary tastes of pleasure in the form of products that the cult claims makes us sexy, powerful and successful.
In the pursuit of “happiness” we are like dogs chasing a stick. Arriving is not an option. Freedom of choice exists as the freedom to choose between one brand and another, one job or another. Meaningful work and a meaningful life have been severed from our supposed needs of survival within this cult.
But Occupy broke the taboo of speaking against what rules this Empire, and named the true nature of the cult: A select few are sucking dry the life force of the rest of us and of nature Herself.
Photo: jamie nyc/Flickr
Now everyday people are gathering, unashamed that they have lost their jobs, or owe thousands in student loans, or have been foreclosed on. We are shedding our shame and loneliness and a false belief that individuality-as-consumers is the ultimate freedom. We are marching arm-in-arm and bringing our creativity, joie de vivre and critical thinking out in the open.
Occupation means that people are finding common ground and common purpose; that they refuse to be held down by a system that exploits them for labor and uses them as consumers. Maximum profit and endless growth are now being seen for what they are: the rape of the earth and the theft of all her gifts.
Not only that, Occupiers have turned the very concept of Occupation on its head: by taking the lie on which America was founded – the right to absolute ownership of a land which was never ours – and proclaiming a new truth: that people have a right to common space, a right to organize, to occupy and to challenge the lie of ownership itself.
Let us remember: invaders from European monarchies and oligarchies built this country, while churches served as co-conspirators in this power grab for the “New World.” To them, the indigenous people of the earth were considered savages: stupid, dangerous and sub-human, which became the rationale for killing them in the name of God and decency.
Since then, terms of ownership are what have enabled our capitalist system, like all capitalist systems before it, to flourish, giving owners the “right” to police and militarily protect themselves and their property. Indeed, the Bill of Rights, which sounded righteous then and still does today, rarely rescues the rights of people – to make no mention of the rights of Earth – before the almighty rights of private property.
When fear is at the core of our responses to situations and choices, logic alone cannot save us. Fear is the trigger of our survival mechanism and narrows our vision and our ability to think our way out of a situation. Many activists, filled with good intentions, use only logical arguments to convince others of the transformation our society must now undertake.
But the fear generated by talk of climate change or nuclear disaster usually garners only a temporary reaction of outrage and more often denial and numbness set it in.
Fear turns members of the cult to the default setting offered by the promises of the system.
What we need to do now is to help each other, listen to each other and stand together in public; we need to stop fearing the members of the cult, and start belonging to the earth and all our relations.
An example: in Berkeley, Occupy the Farm showed how quickly we can re-root ourselves in nature while reclaiming so-called private land for the people. By enacting community gardens like this, we are planting and laughing and dancing in the face of a monolith. We are putting our bodies on the line through non-violent actions to stop the machine – and replenishing the Earth’s ability to feed us.
Now our challenge is to break the unconscious agreements we have made to prop up the disastrous, soulless, capitalist cult that is still dictating our daily lives in so many ways.
Even after Occupy turned the light on, the cult’s leaders – in finance, politics, media, the courts – persist in calling us back inside the lie; enticing us, during an election year, to believe we still have a democracy while we give up our power to a government run by corporations.
At this evolutionary cusp, the leap across the chasm of disaster capitalism can only be taken by those who are willing to govern themselves through collectives, cooperatives and community agreements that delineate how we can share, not own: space.
We, as a movement and an increasingly aware culture, will not go back inside the lie. We, as a Movement, are going beyond rebellion into a love for our common family. As we feel this reconnection—this regeneration—with one another, we begin to see and utilize nature’s own methods of regeneration, its strength in diversity, its miraculous beauty that feeds our souls and revives our courage. We are seeing the earth not as a resource, but as Source itself.
Together we are rediscovering the importance of our human family and our Earth, and this will break the stranglehold of fear. Together we can pledge allegiance to the earth on which we stand, one planet indivisible with clean air, water, soil, food, shelter, justice, and respect for all beings.
See also: Berrigan believes, as did Martin Luther King, that “the evils of capitalism are as real as the evils of militarism and the evils of racism.” And he has dedicated his life to fighting these evils. It is a life worth emulating… “If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal,” he said to me, quoting Emma Goldman. He added his brother Phil’s reminder that “if enough Christians follow the Gospel, they can bring any state to its knees.” Chris Hedges here…