An open space for global conversation
Tom Atlee’s most recent comments about the emerging developments born of the #Occupy movement read like a manifesto/roadmap for winter, 2011.
Yes, we are heading into winter and there are be occupations dead set on maintaining their claim to the commons they currently occupy. What comes to mind? Valley Forge? Why not? Although I have the luxury of not (yet) being one of those contemplating life outdoors in sub-zero temperatures, the parallel is inescapable: rag-tag elements of a resource-challenged self-organized committed gathering of warriors who manage to maintain order, commitment and message under the harshest of conditions.
OK, maybe it's a bit of a stretch. But the reality of winter will be upon us soon enough. What then for the global occupation? It will be a time of hunkering down, taking the smallest matters in hand that will make a larger difference in the coming Spring. Getting grounded, protecting and allowing the roots of this movement to spread further, deeper, creating networks that did not previously exist, confirming and enacting in closer quarters the full impact of what has emerged in this magnificent American Fall.
The psychic space is opened. The heart space is awakening at a collective level. The fortress of the dominant narrative is cracked. We sense a full breach is possible. The first priority will be to support those on the ground. To retain the commons already claimed with broad and creative support; to dampen the push-back and keep the 1% and the corporate media off-balance for the moment.
Now it is time to explore new and solidify old relationships, to bring more substance to alliances (OWS has already announced plans for a July 4th convention). It’s time to discover the real small measures that each person can take, the methodologies of outreach, of establishing the infrastructure of communication. Time to keep our heads down while at the same time, as Tom suggests:
1) expanding the conversation in creative ways to include an ever broader segment of the 99%.
2) developing options and opportunities for small individual actions
3) observing, evaluating, harvesting and further developing the skills and technologies that have brought us to this moment
4) creating communities that reflect our values at all levels of scale
5) continuing to create small scale spaces to house engagement
6) harnessing the feedback mechanisms that will facilitate continuous innovation, response and resilience
7) permitting the shared vision to flourish in all its diversity, innovation... and, may I add,
6) being vigilant for reification, "fixing" anything, overdesigning the future, excessive structure, exclusion.
Pondering the larger context of the Occupation, I recall Michael Meade addressing the Bioneers 2008 conference, speaking about a UN group (meeting in 2006) that was determined to distill the current condition of humanity into five words describing the essential reality in which most people live. These five words are listed below, with some observations about the opportunity that each presents in the context of the Occupy Movement:
Rootless: the loss of a sense of place, the economy of home. The relentless incremental advance of hegemonic multinational corporate entities has undermined our connection to our local communities and our local environments. The Occupy Movement is energizing our sense of possibility for connecting to one another over the common purpose of restoring local economies, reclaiming the commons for civic engagement and the exercise of speech and taking action in the interest of repairing ourselves and the earth.
Powerless: The Occupy Movement brings forth the possibility that we can awaken, as from a prolonged and deepening blackout, to reclaim some measure of influence over our own lives. We are electrified by the spark and the spontaneous burst of illumination which reveals the shared longing for social justice, sustainability, and peace. We are further inspired by the collective discovery that establishing open space creates its own power – a power which has so far confounded the grasp of conventional analysts so deeply enmeshed in the corporate agenda as to almost entirely misunderstand the empowerment that is occurring.
Ruthless: Listed here are just a few of the many features of the ruthlessness of modern culture: the extraction of increasing labor from workers with diminishing intrinsic and extrinsic rewards; the pitting of people against one another in a hyper-competitive atmosphere of manufactured scarcity; the loss of personal privacy and the trading of personal information among the corporate elite; the coercive, clandestine and secretive corporate culture; the hierarchical paternalism of the national security state; the collusion of business and government; the commoditization of the essentials of life (water, seed); the corruption of the electoral process with private money; the degradation of food safety. On all of these fronts, along with the privatization of the public airways, the corporate agenda advances.
Futureless: All of the above contributes to the broad and profoundly disturbing sense that the future is disappearing; that our very sense of time is being altered, for it does not stretch endlessly into the future. Our time on this earth as a species may be limited; the possible closing of the human era is coming into focus.
Meaningless: The four words above can be distilled into this single word that characterizes the human condition at this historical moment -- an emptiness of meaning. The awakening of the Occupation throws open the door of the spirit, allows us to breathe in the knowledge that we share a vast and soul-level longing to take these issues into our own hands and step back from the precipice, to create a possible future that works for all.
The opening of the Occupation is unleashing tremendous energy for the re-creation of meaning with its embrace of diverse experience, values, process, relationship, collective intelligence and action, including all the uncomfortable and difficult issues that lie ahead. In the discovery of that meaning, we find our hands and feet in the soil of community, empowering us to counter the ruthless inequities of modern capital. We are invited to embody a restorative future.