Occupy Redux–Five Years On…

1On the 5th anniversary of Occupy Wall Street (Sept 17):

I am completely occupied with the Occupation. And not merely
as an observer. But I needed a break. So we went to a movie that
turned out to be about a group of clock-punchers who exact
righteous justice on a member of the 1%.

After returning home, I browsed the news for a few moments, looking again as I do
several times per day now for the latest triumph, the latest outrage,
the latest shift in the quantum narrative about the upheaval
occurring everywhere. I landed on the HuffingtonPost
front page, noticing, as I scrolled down, a headline about a poet
being beaten by the Berkeley police on the UC campus during the
recent confrontation there. I opened the story and began reading
without noticing the author who, after all, was insignificant compared to
the poet he was writing about. Who was it, I wondered, as I breezed
through the copy? A man beaten, his wife pushed down roughly by
soul-less and unseeing baton-wielding helmeted villains of empire.
The rest of the story was about what has quickly become
common place, the coordinated tactics of militarized police
forces itching to test their weapons and refine their training
procedures with real-world experience of dispatching the violent
vanguard of the coming civil unrest. Except these were unarmed
students, their own children looking at them across the infinite divide
between anguish and robotic obedience to the will of those now ripping
the façade off the fraud of civil society. They will take any measure,
lawful or otherwise, to silence the outcry of youth whose futures
are being stolen from them daily. If the so-called Regents of the
University of California had any real concern for education they
would have been in the streets and the plazas along with
their sons and daughters.

2But, no. I had to wonder what must have
happened to those officers, how they themselves must have been brutalised
to have become so adept at averting their eyes from those
of their victims, to have become so skilled at emptying their
hearts of any emotion that might leak into awareness and interfere
with carrying out their orders to jab with full force the blunt
end of a baton into the ribs of freshman girls. When I reached the
end of the story, I noticed it was written by Robert Haas himself, former
poet laureate of the United States.

So it has come to this. There is no longer any distinction between child or
adult, between elders, students or teachers, between national
treasures and mere loudmouths, between speakers, bystanders, followers or leaders. All are guilty who stand against the suicidal structures of
evil populated by the self-appointed guardians of our velvet concentration
camp. I retired to bed with my beloved, silently stroking her smooth
skin as we entwined limbs. I thought of my friend Michael Rossman who
stood on that same Sproul Plaza next to Mario Savio almost exactly 47
(now 52) years ago, calling out to his massed comrades to resist the structures
of repression. Then, and in the years that followed, as I do in this
moment, he dedicated himself to the same love that rises within
us as we contemplate what we must do. Our gratitude is for the gift
of deep and full acceptance by another and for the infinite gift of finding
that acceptance for others within ourselves. Our commitment
must be to the unfathomable love that we can make in this world,
to the awakening of divinity within each of us. Without that,
there will be no victories. Knowing this, I pulled her closer,
holding her so very tightly now, still silent, imagining and
fearing what is ahead and how we will live through
what is to come with each other and with ourselves.
And then the tears came. And came. And came.

November 20, 2011

1 thought on “Occupy Redux–Five Years On…

  1. …and when the tears no longer come, Gary, we will know that our humanity no longer exists, but to be aware that our tears have died might just start the tears to come again, and then they may never stop. . .


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