Saturday, November 19, 2011

Occupying ignorance

An acquaintance recently posted  "Can someone tell me in 20 words or less what all the "occupy" crap is about? I only want 20 words to "occupy" my brain."
I don't really care if people want to remain as ignorant as possible - some of those people are perfectly nice. I just hope they don't get a wild hair up their ass and decide to vote. 

Same person also said "I'm angry about having to pay for all the b/s that goes into their 'occupation'." 
Okay, here's where it gets a little touchy for me, and I think this is not an isolated sentiment, it isn't just this one person, and this person as far as I know is not evil. But the right to peaceable assembly is bigger than the right not to ever be inconvenienced by someone's free speech. I am very grateful that as a woman, I have the right to vote, to at least aspire to equal pay, to own my own life. I'm grateful that African Americans have those rights and beyond that, that someone inconvenienced people around them to demand access to integrated education, to eat at the counter at a diner, to ride at the front of the bus, to no longer be denigrated in a systemized way.  And I don't care who that inconvenienced or who payed for it. 

I don't think what is happening now is any less a revolutionary path than those paths were. In both of those situations, no one set out with a grand plan of exactly how things would turn out. People were just fed up, at first a few, and then many more than a few. And even without the internet at their fingertips, there was enough power in the convictions of those first few brave people, and then among their supporters, that injustices were eventually worn away.  Denigrating the Occupy movement because it's inconvenient or it's just too much trouble to figure out the issues is a blatant disregard for human rights, and for humans in general. A grassroots movement doesn't spring up with a power point action plan; that doesn't make it unfocused or ineffectual. It just makes it a real, human response to being treated unjustly.

My last quote from this acquaintance (again, not a bad person at all - a very ordinary person, someone you stand in line next to at the grocery store and who probably smiles nicely at you) is " I am happy to remain one of the whatever percentage of ignorant people there are out there." 
Intellectual laziness is fine if you want to be kept as a pet, but again, please don't vote if you don't want to think. Really. Please. But beyond that, we all have to find some way to use our lives to endorse the values we espouse in a way that makes the reality of those values apparent and compelling and joyful. So that even the people who prefer ignorance can see an alternative and not be afraid to think a little harder. It's on us to make the revolution open to all without sacrificing integrity and intention.

I'm pretty sure we're up to it.