I’m tired of fighting with people, especially liberals, over impossibilities. Impossibility is merely defined by the limits of human perception. When people stopped believing the Sun revolved around the Earth, it wasn’t because the planets and stars were suddenly different, it was our ability to perceive them that shifted. In fact, life itself is a series of impossibilities. The probability of existing as you are is about 1 in 10^2,685,000.
So if reality is a string of impossibilities, then the old social movement saying “Be Realistic, Demand the Impossible” is an incredible truth. Engaging the impossible is not about restructuring external forces and structures, it is about altering our understandings and relationships. Impossibility is transformed to reality through human imagination. The question is no longer how to adapt institutions, how to get power, or how to vote; rather, the only question that matters is HOW DO WE WANT TO LIVE TOGETHER! Although, answering this question and fundamentally altering the nature of human relationships is not an easy task.
#OccupyDC & the “People’s Pentagon”: How OccupyDC’s Building Showed Our System Only Knows How to Destroy
December 4, 2011 OccupyDC engaged in a non-violent direct action to build a semi-permanent structure at the McPherson Square park. The small wooden pentagon-shaped structure used passive solar heating, was built “to code”, and was not attached to the ground. In addition to being practical, the action was highly symbolic and sent a very clear message. In the OccupyDC official press release I said the following:
“In a culture and city with chronic homelessness and foreclosures, this structure is a symbol of what people working together under principles of mutual aid can accomplish with limited time and resources. The police response demonstrates that our system is not committed to building up–they’re only concerned with tearing down.”
When people find out that I have participated in the Occupy Wall Street movement, they often ask me to explain what we want. I am quick to remind them that I cannot speak for the movement, only myself (one of the occupation movement’s core principles). The popular critique seems to be that we are unfocused and we lack clear and measurable policy demands. I would like to take the time to respond to that critique.
The occupation movement is not political; it is a personal and social awakening. For so many of us, this is our first time participating in a group that validates and supports the mission to create a more just community. For the first time, many of us are finding our voices. Nonparticipants often wonder what the movement’s demands are, but the occupations cannot be understood through a political lens. The movement doesn’t speak the language of politics, which is why it doesn’t need demands. Demands are points from which to make concessions, and ultimately, to reach compromise with a competing group. The most important thing to understand about the occupations is that people are creating a culture of personal and collective empowerment, not a political coalition.
In the two days since I got back from New York, I realized that I needed to take a step back and really explain my experience and state of mind at the time of my civil disobedience during Occupy Wall Street.
Banks bought & sold each individual mortgage in the United States an average of 7 times before the sub-prime mortgage crisis. These financial institutions made so many bets on the mortgages that they did not have enough assets to cover their potential losses. They would not be able to pay the people that they owed money, which destabilized the entire economy and led to many people losing their jobs and their homes.
These mortgage bets became known as “toxic assets”. Instead of allowing the collapse of these institutions that bought and sold mortgages like Pokémon cards in 1998, the government relieved these corporations of their toxic assets and prevented them from losing their money.
This is a new world that we are creating. At the time of my arrest, I threw down my backpack and my vest into the middle of the street. I was removed and taken to 1st Precinct, and subsequently Central Booking, where I would not be released until 27 hours later. Upon my return to our camp at Liberty Plaza, both my vest and backpack (which had my phone, keys, books, and other valuables) were back at the camp waiting for me.
This story is a testament to the power of our movement. WE ARE THE 99%. We are changing the very manner in which we treat one another. We reject capitalism’s mandate of competition and we replace it with cooperation and compassion as we look to build a new social existence. We are the 99%