Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thought this was a travel blog?

Even in the small islands of the Azores, out here in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, people are demanding to be heard this October.

This much I know:

            The magnitude of dark-money spending via corporate personhood was brought into focus with the 2010 Supreme Court decision that granted corporations the right to make unlimited campaign ads without disclosing their donors. It is no longer a secret that mega corporations have major influence on the proposal and passing of many of our public policies (ALEC and SB 1020 being a prime example).
            We've already seen the threat of legislature that represses hard-earned labor rights and blatantly attacks women's rights, condones racial profiling and supports energy demands that are dangerous, unsustainable, and ultimately disastrous. Meanwhile, social security, affordable healthcare, and an adequately-funded education system are accepted as mere casualties of The Recession. And many of us who've recently graduated from college, or will soon, are likely to find ourselves unemployed and probably in debt. A good list of our most pressing national issues can be found at
             The extent of these issues has grown recklessly because the people making our laws are not serving our best interests, but the financial interests of our largest corporations and the wealthiest 1% of the population. Our voice as the other 99% has become distorted or stifled, but mostly ignored, by those we elected to represent us in DC. The resultant distrust and disappointment in our government is dangerous because they can lead to a sense of helplessness and apathy.

               The Occupy Wall St! movement has become an inspiration for people all around the world who are demanding their voices back. Criticism that the Occupy ____! movements are destined to fail, based on their sheer size, poor organization, and lack of identifiable demands, is misdirected. In fact, too many movements fail to be radical enough because they aim to change policy, not behavior, with fragmentary, one-shot solutions. Over a decade ago, Wendell Berry wrote a terrific essay (In Distrust of Movements) in which he deemed it "an utterly groundless assumption that we can subdivide our present great failure into a thousand separate problems that can be fixed by a thousand task forces of academic and bureaucratic specialties."
               In other words, we can't remedy effects while leaving their causes in place. It's kind of like getting to the root of a big gross zit. Neutrogena's Perfect Match concealer might make it look okay for a time, but soon enough, that sucker is going to pop back up in the same place and an uglier form. In this respect, I think the worldwide Occupy _____! movements are not only an opportunity to join together loudly as one collective voice, they also represent a necessary shift in our current approach to national economic reform. I'm not sure what to expect from the the outcomes of these movements. Probably a lot of finger-pointing.

               We are all members of our economy and as such, should take full responsibility to make appropriate economic sense in our own lives, households, and communities. In some ways, good economic behavior is easier for us as individuals than it is for massive corporations and greedy stockholders. As Wendell Berry put it, "We must learn to spend our money with our friends and not with our enemies." This is common sense and it's probably the least we can do. Y'all knew this already; it's mostly a reminder for myself.
             Moreover, we all have our own ways of Giving a Damn-- whether it's forming a street blockade or forming your own opinions from honest and reliable news sources.*

I am critically aware that there is so much I don't know and so much I will have to learn. I hesitated to post this lest it sound preachy, pedantic and/or naive-- unavoidably, some of you will find me this, that, and/or the other. But then again, to not speak here would be to perpetuate the most dangerous weapon of Oppression-- our culture of silence. This is my blog and this my voice, yo!

In Solidarity,

*I support direct action! It's not enough to gather in Union Square and make fun of the filthy rich-- contempt alone is hardly productive., as per usual, is doing some great coverage on the Occupy movements. Check it out! If Amy Goodman isn't really your jam, choose your preferred news source (of course, taking caution). Here are some more:

And if you're in Eugene, stop by the Survival Center in the bottom of the EMU (don't have to be a student) for the good word! Thomas, Karen, or Adrian would probably be happy to let you know what's up.

1 comment:

  1. Good points, right on. I went back to Occupy Oakland for Food Not Bombs deliveries the last few days with a less critical mindset and found myself much more inspired. The speakers were all great and people do seem on a good page.