“My heart is moved
by all I cannot save
so much has been destroyed.
I have cast my lot
with those who age after age,
and with no extraordinary power,
reconstitute the world.”
I spent a couple of hours at Occupy Boston this weekend and a couple more hours on line reading about Boston, New York and the burgeoning movement in cities across the country. The issues in Boston are wide and varied, including student debt, unemployment, corporate “personhood” and greed, foreclosure prevention, and “deep green resistance.” Everything is loosely connected under the banner of the “99%” who want to “take our country back.”
I am impressed by the inclusiveness and efforts to connect the dots across issues. I’m not so taken with “take the country back” as a rallying cry. Not only is that often code for racism and elitism in the hands of some elements of the Tea Party, it also implies that the 99% actually had control at some earlier point. I don’t know when that would have been. It’s too soon to say what the shared agenda or demands will be. That’s being worked out in daily general assemblies.
I also wanted to check out the demographics, because from the online view it seemed like most of the participants were white. Turns out, that at least on Sunday afternoon, they mostly were white, though I did talk with two young women of color, one of whom who said “Every generation has its movement. I feel like this is ours.” They were hopeful and had seen a lot of support for the effort so far. It seems that a community is building within the encampment. I’m hoping that it really does come to involve the full range of the 99%. Time will tell.
Meanwhile, I’ve been trying to think about the Occupy movement alongside another very different movement. In Walk Out, Walk On, Margaret Wheatley and Deborah Frieze of the Berkana Institute chronicle the journeys of communities “who have walked out of limiting beliefs and assumptions and walked on to create healthy and resilient communities … [using] their ingenuity and caring to figure out how to work with what they have to create what they need.” It’s another kind of revolution; one based on getting busy with what is at hand; creating a new normal founded on love and a deep respect for the resourcefulness of ordinary people; and understanding that “no one is coming to help, and we can create the future for ourselves now.” No demands on institutions, no insistence on accountability for past wrongs, no attempts to make macro level changes to the systems and dynamics of injustice.
I’ve been wondering how these two kinds of revolutions might enhance, inform and inspire one another. It seems to me that these two kinds of revolutions need each other. What do you think?