Friday, September 16, 2016

Happy Fifth Birthday #Occupy Wall Street!


September 17,  marks the fifth anniversary of the day that protesters descended on Wall Street and Zuccotti Park in New York City, re-naming it Liberty Park and launching #Occupy Wall Street!  

I put this video together on Occupy's First Birthday.  I had written the song when Mayor Bloomberg, aware that thousands more people had flocked to Zuccotti Park to prevent his first attempt to clear the park in October, backed down.

Back home in Western Massachusetts, I stayed up all night, riveted to the Livestream.   "By dawn's early light", a roar surged through the crowd as the announcement was made that Bloomberg had caved.  The song wrote itself.

Of course, I had to rewrite it after the Mayor's Militarized Minions swept the park in November.  Yet, it's still a Song of Triumph.  As the song now sez, "you can trash a camp, but you can't sweep away the Spirit! 

It's SO not over!

#Occupy Five Years Down the Road

Although the mainstream media has often tried to discount the impact of the two month encampment, there can be no doubt that beyond the amazing spread of the #Occupy movement across the United States that fall, the Spirit continued to move across the land in a myriad of local, regional and national efforts to create a more equitable and democratic society.   (Read Michael Levitin's  article in The Atlantic, "The Triumph of Occupy Wall Street.")

On the national level, it seems to me that the emergence of Bernie Sanders, an avowed Democratic Socialist, as a credible candidate for the Democratic nomination for President this year was a direct result of #OWS! bringing into focus the alarming, and growing, income inequality existing in the US.  

Although he didn't secure the nomination from the embedded Democratic Party establishment, the campaign he calls "a Political Revolution" continues on to confront the utter domination and distortion of our democratic process by a wealthy corporate elite.  Unfortunately, the widespread frustration with the continuing looting of the economic resources of this nation -- and the world -- by the banksters and tycoons, and the culture of fear and divisiveness that has been fomented by the Republican Party for decades has also fueled the campaign of one of the worst of the ruling elite, Donald Trump.   

Yet, at this stage of the journey, on the eve the Fifth Anniversary of that magic September day that sparked an autumn blaze of urban encampments throughout the United States, I think its time to celebrate, to reflect, and to re-commit to the on-going efforts to work for a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people."   

Over the course of it's two month occupation, #OWS! made the case.  Now it's up to each of us to stay on the case. 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Lest We Forget: September 11, 2001

"In this world 
Hate never yet dispelled hate
Only love dispels hate
This is the law 
Ancient and inexhaustible."
--  Buddha

"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."
-- Jesus

In the aftermath of the horror of September 11, 2001, Kentucky farmer, author, environmentalist and activist wrote a stirring series of three essays, published as In the Presence of Fear. 

Berry's clear grasp of what had happened and what needed to be done was a clear indictment of the Bush administration's response.  Unfortunately, we have now seen that a change in administration did not change the fundamental nature of the plight we're in.  Fourteen years later, the ascendancy of neo-liberalism, with it's on-going march of an unfettered corporate capitalism bolstered by military power abroad and a militarized police force and the national security state at home, makes Berry's words even more relevant.

Here is an excerpt from the first essay.  It can be found in it's entirety at:

Wendell Berry
We citizens of the industrial countries must continue the labor of self-criticism and self-correction. We must recognize our mistakes…

This is why the substitution of rhetoric for thought, always a temptation in a national crisis, must be resisted by officials and citizens alike…

The aim and result of war necessarily is not peace but victory, and any victory won by violence necessarily justifies the violence that won it and leads to further violence…

What leads to peace is not violence but peaceableness, which is not passivity, but an alert, informed, practiced, and active state of being… The key to peaceableness is continuous practice…

My Humble Take on the Real Deal

I believe that the movement for peace, economic democracy and social justice is a Spiritual Quest. No mean feat, what is called for is a True Revolution of the Heart and Mind--and it starts with each of us.

This revolution has to be Peaceful. The Hippies (and Jesus and Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. King, et al) had it right. It really is all about Peace and Love. Besides being a total drag, violence just doesn't work. It keeps our wheels spinning in fear, anger and pain. Who needs that?

Besides some hard work, I think the Revolution also calls for dancing, plenty of laughter, and some sitting around just doing nothing. (Some folks call it meditation.)

As Stephen Gaskin, proclaimed years ago:

"We're out to raise Hell--in the Bodhisattvic* sense."

Doesn't that sound like some serious fun?

(*The Bodhisattva Vow is a set of commitments made in the Mahayana Buddhist tradition. It basically says I vow to get my act together and figure it out well enough to really help out--and I ain't gonna stop until everybody is covered.

I've found that doesn't necessarily have to happen in that order. It's best to try to help out even before you have it all together! Like right now.)

-----Brother Lefty Smith, Founding S.O.B*