On May 19 Occupy activist Cecily McMillan was sentenced to serve ninety days in prison for being sexually assaulted by a cop at Zuccotti Park. That day, her team left a message at the justiceforcecilly.com website, and it reads in part:
‘The Occupy Wall Street Movement has been a catalyst for social and economic change. But, while we claim to be “the 99%,” building a movement that truly represents the diversity and strength of the people will require a principled approach in our activism centered around a love ethic. bell hooks describes the love ethic in All About Love as:
The will to one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth. Love is as love does, Love is an act of will—namely, both an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love.
Allow me to submit that it’s possible and even more important to our present struggle, to choose to love people we don’t even like, or are our enemies, and that’s where it gets seriously hard. Sages and prophets have explained many times over that the best love is essentially compassionate love, the sort in which we extend ourselves by choice in order to further not only the spiritual growth of others, but ourselves in the process. Active, not passive love. Martin Luther King spoke of it often:
‘Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.’
And it may just be one of the hardest choices to actuate ever, along with taming our own egos, but they may also be somewhat related. Some liken higher love to conferring a moment of grace on another, or the glorious way Kabir does.
‘The flute of interior time is played whether we hear it or not.
What we mean by “love” is its sound coming in.
When love hits the farthest edge of excess, it reaches wisdom.
And the fragrance of the knowledge!
It penetrates our thick bodies,
it goes through walls.
Its network of notes has a structure as if a million suns were arranged inside.
The tune has truth in it.
Where else have you heard a sound like this?’
~ Kabir, Indian mystic
We speak of the Second American Revolution now and again, some of us in hope and conviction, some disparagingly, giving voice to the belief that our populace is smug, lazy, too used to creature comforts to be bothered, and so on. Yes, of course it’s difficult to truly imagine a successful American (USian) Spring. While there are many potential tipping points to massive resistance, there is one key component that has been foretold, but not yet fully realized: a vast revolution of consciousness and values, underpinned by the awareness that we truly are all One, spiritually indivisible from each other and the planet itself. One can easily imagine that this essential wisdom must be the precursor to a healthy revolution and building a better world.
The Occupy movement, of course, was grounded upon the premise of egalitarianism, social, financial, and democratic justice, and many former OWS activists are busy working on projects that reflect exactly that. as in: ‘When you bleed, do I not suffer, and give you aid?’ Yes, many of us are still rooted in self-centered lives, but we also now that as more of us begin to suffer, we will come to the conclusion that only in solidarity and mutual cooperation can we survive, if not thrive for now. More of us are living lives in service to others, and to our communities, reaching out to listen, ask questions…and find cooperative solutions. And live our lives as ‘friction to stop the machine’ (22 minutes, well spent), of course. :)
There are many different accounts of the democracy movement’s inception, including the Culture Jammers at Adbusters, Wikileaks, and the Arab Spring movements, but certainly there was a dawning realization of the utterly global nature of the oppression of the rabble class by the tyrants and oligarchs, whether by the built-in austerity of neoliberalism, or capitalism itself. More and more of us are beginning to see the need for cross-culture communication, given that at least by my lights, the global Indigenous were the first to experience the suffering that capitalist colonizers cavalierly robbing them of the future they wanted for themselves were laid waste…again and again.
That more of the 99% in this land are waking to the fact that we are being treated as third-class citizens allows us to empathize with them more, and look to their old ways of sustainable agriculture, horizontal democracy, cooperatives, and mutual respect a models for the future. And that’s a good thing, as of course was, the Mayan end of the old calendar prophesy of demilitarization and turning swords into ploughshares.
Some time back, I wanted to have a tangential conversation, but the comment thread went quite awry, and rather derailed a vibrant sharing of thoughts. The theme was largely based on the long line of ancestral love and caring that brought most of us here, and how we might begin to realize anew what we were arguably born sensing about ourselves in relation to one another…and the planet. It was simply titled ‘We are.’, and was anchored by this stellar song by Sweet Honey in the Rock.
Borrowing a bit from that diary:
‘The Indigenous cry: One Tribe, One World!…and understand that it must be that way if we are to heal the world, and create a better one.
If the time is upon us for a nonviolent global revolution, a time that we peasants throw off the yokes of our servitude and sense of powerlessness before the oppressive Behemoth of Doom, there will be hard days ahead. Behind the scenes, many are experimenting with new models, rediscovering older and simpler ways, working outside the machine as much as possible.
But the clearest reason (at least to me) that it must be driven by a wildfire of opening the of doors of consciousness is that without that inspired newness and even ecstasy…nothing that comes next will flourish. No new economic models, democracy models, business models, agricultural or energy models will take hold if we are not changed into more enlightened human beings who understand that we all must be honored, we all must be considered in any just models. We can be, we must be; it’s all that’s left, and it has been foretold. A spiritual insurrection is on the way.
It’s time to remember back, back, back…to the time when we knew that we are luminous beings of truth and honesty and trust that we can tap into innate Wisdom of the Ages that’s available when we’re still, and…stop time; then peer inside, and reach upward and outward to collect the wisdom of our ancestors that circles the globe aloft. To be the tree between the heavens and the earth. In your still time, perhaps tie a key onto the long tail of a kite in your mind, run out into the storm until it’s aloft, and lightning comes down zzzzzzt to the key. Use that supercharged key to open any door you wish. Find yourself again, whether you be a child of the wind, water, fire or earth, or of God as you know her. Open your heart and your soul to others; it will feed you and free you…and me. The danger is real, the risks are great, but soon there may be nothing left to lose…but the Oppressive Foot on our collective backs.’
And we’ll need to find ways to be of service that take us out of our selves, then see it spread to others.
‘Life has its beginning and its maturity comes into being when an individual rises above self to something greater. Few individuals learn this, and so they go through life merely existing and never living. Now you see signs all along in your everyday life with individuals who are the victims of self-centeredness. They are the people who live an eternal “I.” They do not have the capacity to project the “I” into the “Thou.” They do not have the mental equipment for an eternal, dangerous and sometimes costly altruism. They live a life of perpetual egotism.
Love is creative, understanding goodwill for all men. It is the refusal to defeat any individual. When you rise to the level of love, of its great beauty and power, you seek only to defeat evil systems. Individuals who happen to be caught up in that system, you love, but you seek to defeat the system.
I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.’
~ Martin Luther King
Yes, as in Martin Buber’s ‘I and Thou’ shared relations of mutual reciprocity, eh, juliania?. :)
There’s an online visualization meditation I do sometimes that asks one to see the fountain of light that exists inside, and imagine spreading that light out…out…out…to those we love, and even to those we fear or regret we’ve harmed, maybe even our enemies. Oh, I try, and so often fail to not be the sort of person who gets vexed by comments even here on different threads, and before I sleep, imagine bathing them in Light. That we are so factionalized here by now is clear enough, and I would like to offer my sincere apologies to any of you I’ve inadvertently harmed in the past due to the monsters that still live…under my bed.
‘Give us grace and strength to forebear and persevere. Give us courage and gaiety and the quiet mind. Spare to us our friends and soften to us our enemies. Give us the strength to encounter that which is to come, that we may be brave in peril, constant in tribulation, temperate in wrath and in all changes of fortune, and down to the gates of death, loyal and loving to one another.’
~Robert Louis Stevenson~
Many of you are involved in projects of service to others, or witnessing empathy as it spreads into communities by way of realizations of shared pain or outrage by various miscreants and the system at large. Please share with us what you’ve seen as folks twig to the fact that we really are all in this together, and that compassionate love is finding a way….
Oh, andone of our favorite climate change activists, Tim DeChristopher speaks on Anger, Love, and Sacrifice (and Occupy) here.
(photo from Oakland Occupy Love, Hella Love Valentine’s Day March, 2012)
(cross-posted at My.Firedoglake.com)