Marchers in San Francisco on October 15th, 2011
For the past decade, I waited. Waited for the fires of the Twin Towers to finally smolder into ashes, for the psychopomps to carry the last of the dead to their final rest. I waited for Americans to finish their grieving, to allow time to heal the wounds of the shocked and awed.
The wait is over.
What started as a simple call to arms by a few Canadian activists and overtly theatrical internet agitators finally manifested itself on September 17, 2011. At first, only a few decided that this was their calling, their time to show the world what they really thought about the way it was headed. Others heard their call. After just over a month, the Occupy Wall Street movement grew from a hashtag on Twitter into a physical occupation of well over a thousand cities worldwide in as far-flung places as New Zealand and Japan to as close to home as Sacramento, California and Providence, Rhode Island. For the first time in many of their lives, people long accustomed to merely venting their frustrations among friends, on their blogs or by deep sighs late in the night are taking to the streets; not to rally behind a savior in the form of a new hope, but to take a stand and attempt to wrest control of our world from those that would destroy it.
They call themselves many things: Occupiers, The 99%, The People. Their protest signs tally the grievances: overt monetary control of the political process, gross income inequality, bailouts for banks on the taxpayer’s tab. Their power comes from the variety of their beliefs, their own personal axes to grind. By not beseeching supplication from elected “leaders,” the Occupiers are taking a hint from a famous idea put forth by Albert Einstein: “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” That powerful idea is what motivates me to join this movement.
After 28 years of careful observation of the world in which we live, it has come to my attention that in order for the great experiment known as civilization to continue its path toward the edification of humanity above that of a simple beast, we must choose, together, right now, as a species. We can choose to continue to see what happens with our current structures and worldviews, hoping that we get lucky in the eleventh hour just as the combined weight of environmental destruction, resource depletion, and bellicose individualism come to a head. We might come through that, as a species, but only through much loss and bloodshed as we unwind the last gifts of this great earth in a consumptive death spiral. We could just as easily end it all in searing fireballs and watch 10,000 years of effort be obliterated within a month’s time. The future of our species is not something I am willing to gamble with due to a simple lack of imagination and desperate clinging to outmoded patterns of thought.
I propose a different solution.
Standing at the cusp of our potential oblivion, we can choose to work together for the common dreams of humanity. We can choose to stop letting the sellers of fear get within our ears and tell us it cannot be done. We can choose to abandon the promise of quarterly profits for the promise of a future as a species. We can choose to let the whispers of our hearts drown out the doubts in our minds.
We can choose to have compassion.
Each mind that makes that choice has the power to re-create the world. Each mind that makes that choice silences those that would seek to scoff at compassion as the stuff of dreamers. Each mind that stops believing in the phantom power of those in the revolving-door gambling houses makes them less and less relevant.
Those that are afraid of this power that we all hold might try and keep themselves at bay, saying things like “That’s the way the world works,” or “You can’t get rid of all of the problems.” I don’t expect that we can get rid of all of the problems. What I propose is that we might, as a species, decide that we wish to cast aside our ancient tribal questions of us and them as an experiment to see where we can go. Replace the currently directionless Leviathan of our world with one that enshrines the rights of all to thrive. A world where our imaginations are allowed to flourish, where we no longer must bow to the dictates of simple survival and can all exist as equal players in a game of joy and wonder.
I finally decided to wake up from the nightmare. I can only hope that others will too.