An open space for global conversation
A friend sent me this article about polling numbers that indicate OWS is losing favor with US citizens. I feel really disappointed to see this because I believe, from conversations I've had with my family and friends, and from what I've heard from people on our daily nonviolent communication strategies training call, that most people have no idea what the occupy is really about. It is difficult to understand, but I have heard this from more people than I wish I had.
I think this is what is contributing to their loss of support, along with the mainstream media not covering the occupy movement, or covering it only scantily or when something sensational happens. This is why I believe we need to start making positive statements about why we're involved with occypy.
By positive I mean, rather than saying what we don't want, we say what we do want. We are more likely to be seen as human beings who are trying to meet our needs for shelter, a job, affording an education for our children if we make clear statements about what we do want. This way we can more likely build a connection with those who also want to remain employed, want to make sure they are not going to lose their home, or want to belive that they will be able to send their children to an effective school.
Making statements such as "I'm here because I haven't been able to find a job. I want one, but I can't find one." "I'm here because, the deregulation laws that our government is passing, are creating situations like the one in which I lost my house." "I'm here because, with the ways laws are being rapidly passed, I'm afraid my children won't get a descent education, and education is so important in a democracy. You can't have a democracy without educated citizens."
When people can connect at a common needs level, they are more inspired to help each other. When we tell people that they are wrong, they are often inspired to walk away.
Occupy Wall Street Favor Fading
The Occupy Wall Street movement is
not wearing well with voters across the country. Only 33% now say that they are
supportive of its goals, compared to 45% who say they oppose them. That
represents an 11 point shift in the wrong direction for the movement's support
compared to a month ago when 35% of voters said they supported it and 36% were
opposed. Most notably independents have gone from supporting Occupy Wall
Street's goals 39/34, to opposing them 34/42.
Voters don't care for the Tea Party
either, with 42% saying they support its goals to 45% opposed. But asked
whether they have a higher opinion of the Tea Party or Occupy Wall Street
movement the Tea Party wins out 43-37, representing a flip from last month when
Occupy Wall Street won out 40-37 on that question. Again the movement with
independents is notable- from preferring Occupy Wall Street 43-34, to siding
with the Tea Party 44-40.
If sacred ground does not also make room for the profane, then it merely feeds the dualistic paradigm.
There are as many lessons to learn from deliberate vulgarity as from sublime poetry.
I think erasing part of the record of this conversation renders other parts unintelligible.
It may have been appropriate to disinvite the Troll, but I fear for the groundedness of this movement and this forum once censorship begins.
I'm also concerned about establishing "rules of engagement", as I know there are some here who would just as soon put some of my comments on the "wrong" side of the road.
Perhaps you'd like to start a discussion to air your dissent, as there's value in taking a conversation to the commons.
In our natural state we revolt against censorship. There's a certain violation in it to be sure. I find a similarity in the argument between contrasting gardening philosophies. For some, the word weed ought to be stricken from one's lexicon in order to honor the divine right of those plants oppressed.
Then there are those for whom cultivating a certain crop of flower or food find the unruly weed destructive and inhibiting to the growth desired. Unchecked, certain weeds will overpower and choke everything it touches. But some people rejoice in the resultant look of untamed growth.
Less than good or bad, it's a preference as to the sort of garden one desires.
This is not the appropriate space to process, much less without mutual consent, one's sublimated rage and errant hostility. If you want to do that, make an appointment with a competent professional or a tolerant friend. On this matter, the CO Stewards are non-negotiable.
However, the discussion regarding censorship is a worthy one to unpack.
When, if ever, is censorship warranted?
I worry about censorship, too. I am relieved that I don't have to continue responding to JJ's insults (I've been working non-stop for over a month in connection to the movement and I'm pretty tired), and I was willing to continue to attempt to make a connection with him. I understand that you advise not to.
Sadly, I my have to go off line for a couple of days. I'm really wishing I could continue to be part of this conversation, but I'm traveling to see my chiropractor and my kids and I'll be on the road, not near a computer, most of the time. i hope I get a chance to check back in because I think this is a very valuable discussion.
When a person is as angry as JJ is, connection doesn't happen very quickly, if at all. I'm letting go of this connection with JJ for a few reasons: his comments weren't just aimed at me but at others as well, and others may not care to keep having to respond to him, I'm so tired right now, and I'm being advised not to continue with him
I wonder if I'm coming across as naive? I am thinking that it may help (maybe not) if I say that I've been involved with this style of communication for 17 years. I've seen a lot of angry people, given time, calm down and connect. I've seen this happen so many times that I choose it as my way of communicating. Why not? Something like 95% of the time, it creates a connection.
If we're not going to censor, then it seems we have to respond. Is there a middle ground? I'd like to hear your thoughts on this. It seems to me that not responding is a subtle form of censorship.
Despite my years of experience with this way of communicating, I made a mistake early on with JJ. I was tired and had a lot of other people to resond to in a short time, and I put my concerns on the table before I fully heard him out. It seems that not feeling heard by me, he didn't trust me, and he heard my concern about making demands as a criticism, and then attacked me and everyone who agreed with me in any way. I'm regretting that I made this mistake, and hearing him out more than I did before putting my concerns on the table is not a guarantee that he would be able to hear my concerns as concerns and not demands or criticisms. If he had not been suspended, I would have told him just what I'm saying now. It might have led to a better connection with him. But, I want to follow the rules of engagement we, as a group, decide upon, so I will take that into consideration as I continue to participate.
Bye for now. I'll check back in as soon as i can.
Look forward to your return, Suzanne, and to resuming this and many oter conversations with you.
A Radiance of Blessings
I'm back after having a lot of fun folkdancing, eating great food, and visiting with family for a couple of days. I'm refreshed and ready to continue. I really appreciate your support and am happy to accept a randiance of blessings from you. I added a link to the forum of an internet radio interview I, and a couple of colleagues, did tonight.
Jitendra - I'm not interested in starting another thread on this subject. I'm in favor of allowing a conversation like this one to flow organically wherever it might lead and not consider the title to be a straightjacket. But, to do that constructively, we need to be able to look back on how the conversation unfolded, which is now impossible because of the holes you've punched into it.
Suzanne - naive? perhaps. It's possible your assessment of JJ is correct, but I suspect not. And I'm always flabbergasted when people on a text-based web forum like this impute strong emotions, such as "anger", onto words on a page - with no benefit of facial expression, voice inflection, body language or the "vibes" we pick up from being in someone's physical presence.
People here have accused me of answering with "anger" and even "rage" when, in fact, I was typing my responses quite impassively and using words and syntax which reveal nothing but rational argument.
I wasn't picking up any anger from JJ. It seemed he was a near-perfect example of an internet Troll, who was responding quite cleverly (and relatively articulately) in order to provoke a response. Ignoring one such as that is not, then, a form of censorship. It is a recognition (that many activists have not achieved) that whatever we confront, we feed.
I'm still near my computer, not having had the chance to engage in a radio show I hoped to talk on this morning.
I agree that without emotion symbols, it is very easy to misinterpret a person's mood just by their words. On our daily calls, we often tell people what we are experiencing (e.g., "A smile popped on my face when I heard you say what you just said;" "Tears are coming to my eyes hearing your story." The more people engage with us, the more they make these kinds of statements as well.
Perhaps you're right about JJ not being angry, but just fulfilling his self-appointed role as a disrupter. I believe you have more experience with these forums than I have. I usually try to communicate by phone or in person because I get and can give "in the moment' feedback that way.
One thing I can say about JJ's participation is that it has led us into a very interesting discussion. So, I guess he accomplished something, even if it wasn't what he intended.
Now, I will head off, but will hopefully be back on line by late tomorrow or early Sunday.
After reading your latest message again, I realize that I'd like to continue this discussion and see where it goes from here. Not to press my point with you, necessarily, but to continue exploring this idea of responding or not responding to certain people on the forum.
Whether JJ was angry or just attempting to disrupt the post, wouldn't you agree that he was offering a communication. And, isn't being heard something most of us want; our opinions, our needs, our concerns? Some other needs might be: to matter, to make a difference, to make a contribution to something we feel passionate about (either passionate about changing it or passionate about keeping it the same). It seems to me that If what we want is to be heard, wouldn't not receiving an answer make a person more angry?
I get that you believe continuing to exchange replies with JJ would be futile. Here's an interesting story, though. A young woman who comes onto our daily calls has begun empathizing with "trolls" on an international occupy website. She is a very compassionate person by nature and wants these folks to be heard just like everyone else. She reports that after being heard by her for a while, many of these people just go off the chat of their own volition, or at least calm down in their approach to others on the call.
I have had many similar experiences where very, very angry people calm down and begin to listen if I can stay in communcation with them long enough to really hear them out. No matter what they're saying, not matter how they're saying it, I attempt to hear what needs are being expressed. A need to disrupt a forum probably has a deeper need, such as a need to be heard about the "rightness" of one's opinion on a subject, even to the exclusion of hearing others. There is often an almost miraculous (or at least pretty amazing) shift in people's demeanor, as well as their willingness to hear me when I am able to hear what their underlying need is. And, as mentioned earlier, the angrier they are, the longer it sometimes takes.
Suzanne/Robert (if you're still "here')/Lindsay:
This has been very thought-provoking for me to reflect on as well. One thing that has become clear to me from JJ's responses--especially some outside of this forum--is that he is not a classic troll, cleverly manipulating the conversation for the purpose of derailing it. Rather, he is a very angry, and perhaps even delusional person who is convinced that Suzanne and I are agents provocateurs or FBI plants, attempting to subvert the movement and draw energy and funding away from those who are its true representatives.
I also must say that I AGREE with his initial point that the poll Suzanne cited to begin this thread may not be at all an accurate reflection of public opinion. Polls are very often biased and manipulative. Not that I have looked into the one cited specifically to evaluate that. At the same time, the underlying point that the movement needs to resonate even more powerfully with the 99% of which it is now only a small subset is indeed well-taken.
I don't know what this implies about the best way to have dealt with him, but I can tell you that he is now attempting to personally slander me and Occupy Cafe in other Occupy forums.
I do now regret the censoring of his comments here. I think it would have been better to have left them, and to have conducted all my communications with him via this forum, rather than in private messages. In that way, the full record of what transpired would have been preserved and I think it would have served all of us better in the long run. It probably would't have mattered to JJ, but it would have showed a higher level of integrity on our part.
The larger context for all of this is the question of just what is possible in terms of human relations "in the cloud." Robert and I had an exchange on this in another forum thread. He suggested that one cannot create real community in a virtual space such as this. I agree that it is hard to do so, but I know that there are many, many groups out there, from simple list-serves to intricate social networks, where real human connections flourish and have meaning and impact on peoples' lives.
The cloud is not worse than face to face, nor is it a substitute. It is simply different. It has its own strengths and weaknesses. And we are all still in the early stages of understanding those and learning how to intentionally build community in this new context. Part of that learning, I believe, will include breaking down the arbitrary divisions we often make between "virtual" and face-to-face endeavors, with real-time voice connections as yet a third "separate" space. Occupy Cafe intends to create a presence at all three of these levels and to weave them together, allowing the strengths of each to complement and contribute to the whole.
Our highest vision for Occupy Cafe is that our conversations launch a vibrant and transformative community--one that creates its own initiatives and collaborates to bring them into the REAL world. We are in the invitation stage now, and I want to move into making that more explicit.
Stay tuned for more, and thank you ALL so much for your energy and intelligence, your commitment and sense of OWNERSHIP.
Three observations Ben and all occupy stewards.
(1) using a members name online in discussing that members negative actions is on the same plane as the negative action itself.
(2) it is not exactly "ownership" on which we who have spoken up are acting. and speaking ( behind the scenes)...it's mutuality, i'ts standards of mutual respect, it's mutual stewardship. it's co-intelligence
(3) a community that does not value "livingness" in stewardship for its members, that does not cultivate and live from a model of mutual stewardship cannot make a meannigful contribution to livingness in our broken world.
"using a members name online in discussing that members negative actions is on the same plane as the negative action itself."
The following is somewhat off the top of my head, not long considered.
I would go farther and say that unless one wants a particular person (who is not a friend, because we can write notes directly to friends) to give attention to something one has to say about something else, one should not use another's name at all. We can knock ideas around, not each other.
What if Robert had not written about fellow site members, and vice versa? What if he had posted What is the Zeitgeist Movement and Who is Peter Joseph? immediately upon seeing evidence of interest about which he was concerned?
I must go review my own behavior here in light of this.
I see the irony in my post.
It was that sequence here that sparked the thoughts.