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The Tranquilizer Has Worn Off: What the Occupy Movement Means to Me

I hate it when my brother is right.

We’re close friends, but there’s no dearth of healthy rivalry between us.  It doesn’t help matters that — the last time I checked (and it’s been years) — he called himself a Republican, and — the last time he checked (and it’s been years) — I called myself a Democrat.

Back then, before President Obama was elected, after too many uncomfortable arguments, my brother appalled me when he said, “It doesn’t really make that much of a difference who our next president is. Not much will change.”

I didn’t believe him. Things just had to get better; I refused to imagine otherwise. But he was right.  It didn’t matter so much.

Brother, enjoy this moment, here I am committing it in writing: you were right. But more importantly . . . . the whole world has suffered.

The well-being of sentient life on this planet (the well-being of this planet, itself) can’t rest in the hands of a few hundred world leaders.  Living in a nation where we have the right to vote, it’s easy to punch a hole in a card for this side or that side, and then go back to focusing on recipes for pumpkintinis and what teams are making it to the playoffs. More and more, though, too many of us are maxing out credit cards to pay hospital bills to leave any room in the budget for Sortilège and football tickets.

All generalities aside — full disclosure relating to the above paragraph:

  • I have no idea what elections are coming up in my district this November.
  • I don’t watch football (Did someone say the Lions are doing well?).
  • My credit cards are nowhere near being maxed out (thank God).
  • I don’t have hospital bills (Insha’Allah); just one annoyingly large lab fee for my last annual exam and an insanely expensive dental procedure coming up.
  • I just found out about Sortilège from googling “pumpkintini recipe”; it’s a brand of “Maple Syrup Canadian Whisky Liqueur”. I’m thinking, with my French Canadian roots, I need to get me some of that.
  • Oh yeah, I, too, am the 99%.

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When I watch videos of the People’s Mic, I get goosebumps.

It’s happening now, all over the world; I can see it right on this laptop: the technology is miraculous; the events, historical.

Last spring, seeing protestors in other countries bravely risking so much for freedom and justice, it saddened me that Americans, mostly, remained uninvolved, as if unconnected.

When I watch videos of the People’s Mic, I’m proud of those who are raising their voices. Their most mundane announcements are breathing poetry. Listening becomes joining the cry, contributing volume, sharing the message.

When I watch videos of the People’s Mic, I can’t help but think of ancient tribal bonfires and the conch in Lord of the Flies. My recollections of that story are vague at best; I have a feeling the comparison is not favorable. Just now, calling up scenes from the movie on YouTube makes me think that perhaps there’s an essay here.  I just googled “occupy lord of the flies” and see that I’m not alone in this.

Just before he’s killed, Piggy says, “We’ve got to be sensible and make things work.”

It’s sweet, the idea of “making things work”.  That’s how decriminalizing the behavior of politicians was originally sold to us.  Gerald Ford said, when he pardoned Nixon, that he was insuring “domestic tranquility”.

Guess what? The tranquilizer has worn off.

And I’m so very grateful.

Because tranquility is not an acceptable response when war criminals go free and women who write bad checks to feed their children are imprisoned.

It’s not about the Have Nots wanting what the Haves have (believe me, I do not want an Altuzarra Birch jacket). It’s about the Haves paying their fair share and being held accountable for their crimes. It’s about liberty and justice for all.

Today, after skimming details of the Occupy Oakland incident and watching more of the disturbing video footage, I turned to Facebook and saw a posting from a dear old friend — this photo and caption:

“Ethics means giving up the thought of committing actions of body, speech and mind that are harmful to sentient beings.”

The same friend, in her post immediately prior to that, expressed thoughtfulness for both the Oakland Occupiers and the Oakland Police Department.

I got to thinking about the police. The men and women who put on those blue uniforms and go to work for a paycheck. And that’s when I realized I needed to stop putting off writing this post.


I needed to write to express appreciation for the complexity of it all. I ache for those men and women who had to follow orders in riot gear.

Just like I ache for the men and women who carry weapons overseas.

Just like I ache for Scott Olsen.

Just like I ache for Mayra Soto who “suffered persecution for her sexual orientation in Mexico, was once raped in a Mexican jail, and later fled to the United States, where she was incarcerated in an immigration detention facility, and once again raped — this time, by an immigration detention officer.”

O.K. Mayra wins the Ache Contest.

But it’s not a contest. It’s our lives — our interconnected existence around the globe — the culmination of our choices on a moment to moment basis.

Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Everywhere, it gives me hope that people have to come together in make-shift communities to speak out for what is right, to protect human beings from suffering as much as possible.

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I haven’t discussed current events like the Occupy Movement with my brother. A part of me fears that he would offer the same opinion that he did about the last big U.S. election — that the outcome will make little difference.

More than I fear him thinking or saying that, I fear such a sentiment could be correct.

But I’m not going to choose fear. I’m going to set my energy and vision towards truth, justice, and compassion, strength, dignity, and kindness.

I’m going to Occupy my highest good. I am the 99%.

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One thought on “The Tranquilizer Has Worn Off: What the Occupy Movement Means to Me

  1. You googled pumpkintini???? I am SO proud of you!!!!!


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    I never made them though; I think I need one. :)

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