Something is happening here

October 26, 2011

By Steve Klinger


Santa Fe–As we sit in our warm and dry homes on this late October night, when the first winter storm bears down upon New Mexico, bringing freezing rain and snow to many of our communities, our thoughts turn to our friends in the Occupy movement. Tonight, they are huddled in sleeping bags, under flimsy tents, many without any kind of heat or warm food.

They have been tested in some communities by city officials, university administrators and hostile police, and now they are being tested by wet and frigid weather. On the news tonight, their motives were questioned by reporters and anchors, who then talked about how many thousands it has cost UNM police in overtime and cleaning expenses. A national news report showed infrared overhead photos of one Occupy site, while speculating from the cool colors that most of the tents were actually vacant overnight.

Protesters who were tear-gassed and assaulted by police in Oakland were described as engaged in a scuffle with authorities. Is it really a scuffle when a phalanx of weapon-wielding cops invades your unarmed and nonviolent encampment at 5 am and drags you off to jail?

Not very subtle, and typically negative framing and use of language by the MSM, who have mostly not known how to understand, let alone explain this phenomenon that is sweeping the nation and many parts of the world. And by MSM we are excluding FOX, which of course drags “fair and balanced” to new depths on a nightly basis.

Other reporters and talk radio hosts demand to know who the leaders of Occupy are and why they won’t list their demands. As Craig Barnes and Fred Goldberg pointed out at last night’s We Are People Here! meeting,  to do so would be to play right into the hands of the 1 percent, just waiting to pick off the leaders one way or another and throw their obscene multinational fortunes into any means available that would snuff out items on a specific agenda.

As a few have wisely noted, the occupiers themselves make a profound statement of presence, both geographic and political: We are here in this space and you must come to terms with us.  You tell us why we are here! A Zen riddle to baffle the Wall Street wizards and the lockstep forces of global privatization. I can almost hear Dylan’s caustic refrain from Ballad of a Thin Man:

Because something is happening here
And you don’t know what it is,
Do you, Mr. Jones?

But tonight I am restless and discontent in my warm home.  As Barnes said last night when asked by a man who said he had seen very few of us at the gatherings and general assemblies of the Santa Fe occupiers, we all do what we do best, and for some of us going to general assemblies and sleeping in the cold is not our way of contributing. I thought it was well said, and yet, for how long will we have the luxury of doing what we do best as we become the next socioeconomic cannon fodder of the 1 percent, as they turn from the depleted Third World and, like a swarm of locusts, unleash their plague upon Europe and America?

Can this Occupy movement succeed with the rest of us on the sidelines, or must we join, or at least help, those in the tents and sleeping bags continue their siege until the world awakens to the inconvenient truth of their occupational presence?

To the extent that we must at least begin by doing what we do best in support of their courage and determination, we must ponder their sacrifice and imagine what a lost opportunity it will be if they simply pack up and go home because the weather turned cold and wet, or because police chased them off a university campus. Could we blame them? Are we prepared to take their place? What happens next, if weather and circumstance disperse them in city after city?

We should also recognize how blessed we are in this special city to have a sympathetic government, a friendly police force, a mayor who stops by to visit the Base Camp occupiers and brings Porta-potties for their use! In Albuquerque and most other places the forces of law and order are a lot less hospitable, arresting dozens and driving the protesters off UNM property, after the expiration of their permit.

As we began to ponder last night, can these protesters—who by their actions and their process of consensus-based direct democracy are teaching us to become the change we envision—really raise consciousness by their act of occupying? Can this change reach a critical mass, such as James Redfield described in The Celestine Prophecy books, or is humanity just not ready for this leap in evolution?

Looking out on a world torn by greed and affliction, distraction and addiction, manufactured need and widespread, callous injustice, tonight it’s hard to see the revolution of the just turning out the forces of inhumanity, fueled so disproportionately with money and weapons and power.

But if not now, when? If not us, who? Gandhi and King and Havel and Mandela and Rosa Parks might not have seen a great chance of success either when they set their momentous actions into motion. (And they couldn’t even friend anyone on Facebook.)

Tonight, at least we can say this much: We who ask the questions must realize we are also the answer.

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