Thursday, 17 November 2011

We Are the Occupy Movement!

The occupy movement is about justifiable anger. Anger at the banks for paying more than a million taxpayers' bail-out dollars to the very chief executives who made the bad decisions that brought them close to bankruptcy in the first place. Anger at Wall street trading and gambling that passes for “making money”. Anger at corporations posing as “people” without the responsibilties for the actions of a “person”. Anger at an environment consumed by energy behomeths whose sole purpose for existence is to accumulate financial wealth.

The Occupy Movement is about reclaiming the global commons. It has no leader – or it has many leaders. Camps invite speakers – or they invite themselves.  Notable have been David Suzuku, David Korten, and Jeffrey Sachs. They organize food, water supplies, sanitation, media “rooms”, common areas and generally take care of one another. They police themselves and allow no alcohol or intoxicants on site.

Is it a “perfect” homogeneous movement? No. The homeless are there because the street is already their only home. Are mistakes made? Of course. The movement has not been able to sustain complete non-violence but it has made a gargantuan effort to do so. Individuals have become frustrated, weaker members have been bated by the police to lose their cool, and individuals have urinated on their opposition.

But I am part of the Occupy Movement! In Montreal, I walked through the encampment two or three times a day and stopped to read signs and talk. Martha McClure's daughter is participating in Fredericton. Friends of friends everywhere are either camping or supporting the campers. I am of the 99%.

This movement cannot be allowed to fail, to sputter or die!!

Those hardy souls who want to camp out all winter should be aware that they are at greater risk of losing their own tempers or to being forcibly evicted on spurious grounds. They are also humans and fragile – they need to be well-prepared for winter camping! Individuals should fall-back positions should they become ill. (A job for supporters.)  Those who cannot be prepared should go into hibernation for the season - or move South.  Control your output and your strength.

For the rest of us under warm roofs, we should be applying ourselves to non-violent study. Years ago I participated in a non-violent action where one of our group claimed that she knew enough about non-violent action to avoid the workshop and join us on site. Someone vouched for her but it was a delicate situation and we had media attention. Her non-constructive actions attracted more attention than the issue. Anarchy cannot work without cooperation.

Gandhi based his movement on a philosophy familiar to the Hindu - although not always practiced by them.  The civil rights movement was based on the principles of non-violence but conducted extensive workshops because they knew that the tiniest violent act on their part would be met by increasing state force.  The anti-apartheid movement only won finally when they eschewed violence and withdrew their services and their money.  It is not easy to sustain non-violence but it will be the winning card in this game.  Our strength will be in non-cooperation, in creation and in "adaptive management" of every situation.  Our numbers are legion.

Many of us have been armchair “occupiers” for decades. We have volunteered on the fringes of social and cultural change. We have been activists in environmental and peace movements.  Those who are putting their bodies where our mouths, and sometimes our feet, have been, need our support. We must give the on-site occupiers the energy to hang in there. Dismantling the repressive political and economic system that currently oppresses the 99% will not happen overnight.

Those who hibernate – and those who support the movement – must prepare for Spring. Perhaps we could target March 21st? Significant for the beginning of the growing season in the North and the end of one in the South. If we cannot actively stay on a site, we should plan next summer's holidays to tent out somewhere – and proclaim that we are part of the Occupy Movement!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Home again.....

This morning I sat down on the deck to a grey backlit moonlit cloudy sky mourning my foolishness in agreeing to work in the clinic today – with Mr. Pointy-ears beside me – waiting to hear in the silence. There are no cars on Copeland road and no dogs or coyotes barking, no owls hooting and the squirrels and birds were doing what they are supposed to do in the coldest part of the day – hibernate. Pretty unusually quiet.

And I thought what two strange lives I am living. Yesterday morning I was in Ottawa. A bustling noisy city. I like hot yoga because it forces me to to become silent on the inside. Sirens, always cars, trucks, yet where Mary lives is quite quiet as compared to the sound level in other cities.

For the three weeks in Ottawa, the closest animal companion is a cat named Alice. Alice is very cheshire in that she will fold herself over things – steps, backs and sides of chairs, Mary's lap and give her best cheshire cat imitation on the corner of at the top of the stairs. I almost expect to see the grin without the cat! For all the trials and tribulations Sylvain and I are having trying to train ourselves, I start to miss his companionship – and his behaviour measures up quite nicely to that of a lot of urban dogs.

The house is chaos – and because it is hard to get to the places that need vacuuming (they are upside down, piles on one another, etc), there is a lot of animal hair everywhere. Two cats and the occasional dog (he is occasionally allowed the freedom of the house) leak hair all the time, not just in the spring!
The windows need two more sandings and two more coats of varnish (or whatever they are using – Bill and maybe Ntara) before we can begin to clear the space. My belongings are all in suitcases so I hope that there is a “work” outfit in the closet.

I'm fretting over the Turning Point, the establishment of PER (Physicians for Education and Research), the donor appeal, the upcoming trip to Iraq and the inability to get replies from our partners there (while I am excited that Bill is coming with me, I'm worried about stressors – when I'm alone, I have one person's tensions.)

Whenever I travel out of country, I think of the possibility that I won't come back. There are very few plane crashes but that risk always exists – but greater is the risk of a motor vehicular accident. If I travel alone, our children still have one parent; on the other hand, if we both go down, they are adults. But I'd hate to have them deal with my messes. It also makes me concerned that we share our wishes about goods and services in that unlikely event.

OK. Feed the dog, wash up, have breakfast and get dressed to “play doctor” for a day.