Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Fear and Loathing in Colorado Springs
Those readers following the Occupy! Movement in its many forms around the world and in Colorado Springs will be glad to hear that Tuesday culminated a difficult week for us here with a resolution of many contentious issues, and an overall commitment to unity.
The subject matter behind this particular post is closely associated with the Movement in general, but it's more a humanity thing than an Occupy thing, overall. I hope i can get the associations to make sense, and that readers will restrain themselves from developing the erroneous notion that this is meant to be a pitch for some sort of religion. It's not.
I went to the Municipal Court in Colorado Springs to enter a plea of "not guilty" to the charge of camping on public property because of actions executed as a part of Occupy! Actually, i was camping on public property, to put it quite plainly, and the idea behind the plea is that the action does not engender guilt even if it violates a silly and badly unAmerican, (read, "oppressive," if we've become a little unrecognizable in this regard), statute. A couple dozen supporters made it to the courtroom with me, and raised enough ruckus to get Municipal Judge Spottswood W. H. Williams to threaten them all with contempt charges. The whole thing was kind of a lot of fun, really. Made me feel a little like Hoffman or Hayden, in a much smaller sense. There comes a first time for everything, and this was my first visit to a courtroom during which i was able to feel utterly unencumbered by the dark nature of my own action that had led me there. My deepest thanks to all the OCS members and especially Dennis Apuan, who put his political credibility on the line to stand with us, and brought a good deal of patriotic weight to the room as State Rep for the fine soldiers of Fort Carson.
The hearing was only that, after all, and after entering the plea, we scheduled a pre-trial conference with the City Attorney, for 22 Nov, at which a government lawyer will make me an offer i'll most assuredly refuse and we'll schedule a jury trial. I'll keep you news hounds posted as things progress.
The point to this post, though, is an underlying root to the no-camping ordinance, as well as to most of the woes of the day: The Fear.
Most of us don't acknowledge the Fear because, well, it's scary. Instead we get angry, or attempt to maneuver ourselves into a position to control uncontrollable factors like society or competitive economies. We eschew cooperation because we're afraid of our fellows. We make assumptions about others' behavior and how it will effect us. We bewail the corruption of society, and begin looking over our shoulders for the punishment of God, or black-clad mercenaries coming over the horizon to herd us into frigid winter FEMA camps. We worry about hunger, poverty, inglorious death. We develop elaborate political systems and foment revolution in order to establish "security" of dubious credibility. Look around. These tactics have not ever worked after attempting repeated, redundant permutations, and there is no reasonable expectation that they ever will.
The Fear has driven all this cutthroat competition. It's what motivates folks to be sure they have more, more, more. It's what causes us to petulantly demand our right to burn as much gas in our Hummers as possible, and to constantly engage in useless commerce. It motivates the lowest guy competing for some crappy job at Taco Bell just as surely as it motivates conspiratorial Rothschild backroom bankers. It motivates us to enact stupid, oppressive no-camping ordinances when someone that scares us becomes visible, oh my! We're all deathly afraid of some horrible outcome, like someone else getting our stuff, or scaring tourists away, or enjoying some habitual pleasure we find repugnant.
The Fear is irrational! What's the very worst that can happen to us in this life? We die? We find ourselves incarcerated or tortured? Consider, if you will, that we live our little spans, maybe a hundred years or so at the outside limit, surrounded at both ends by an unfathomable mass of toroidally twisted, multi-dimentional Eternity that not one of us will ever grasp while we live. What possible fear can be valid under this circumstance other than that we fail to live according to our own perceived Truths? I say "perceived" since only those afflicted by the Fear are afraid to examine those truths for the errors all honest thinkers know to exist within our own perceptions. If I knew my own blind spots they wouldn't exist, right? We don't even know what we're afraid of mostly, though we can usually list a few if we set ourselves to the task. No one is to blame for his or her own irrational fears, especially cultural fears such as seem to be more or less universal. Many have been established by the direct influence of media that may well have been designed by nefarious folk for exactly the purpose of invoking unfounded fears in various populations. OMG! Now i'm making myself afraid! Not really--but what to do about the Fear?
"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear," reads a certain religious text, (1 Jn 4:18, for those with a source fetish like me). I won't be digressing into a religious sermon here. The principle holds without the doctrinal baggage surrounding it in the context in which it nests. No matter how evil the Ideas we oppose as Occupiers, or as human beings in general, they can't overwhelm a spirit of love. No matter the spiritual foundation or lack thereof, love can dissipate greed, fear, disappointment, embarrassment, and in fact any of the various bases for the secondary anger response we are all prone to manifesting in situations as apparently dire as the one we're seeing now. As much as i can plainly see the bogus nature of the moves made in, say, the financial industry, (inseparable from other key industries at a certain level), applying some genuine empathy causes a mental process that can not end in hatred or vengefulness. Look guys like Greenspan or Geitner in the eyes next time you see them. They're deeply miserable, and completely trapped in their own Fears. When it all collapses, i really hope they're still available so we can feed them a plate of food, even if we can't resist the temptation to ask, "What the fuck were you thinking!?"
We can't fight fire with fire here. Battling greed with more greed, as some seeking to restore an "American Dream" involving bigger slices of a rotten pie seem to do. Revolution only spins us in circles: "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss." We always seem to find ourselves standing in the same spot we started, except standing in pools of blood with fewer resources after every revolution we've ever effected. We don't have these options any longer. The planet is in a condition that will not permit us to continue on the deeply ingrained, competitive course we've followed for so long. Learning to love, to let go, to tolerate, to work together for our futures which are common whether we like it or not is the only way out of this. It's not easy, only necessary.
I can't tell anyone how to save anyone else, or how to convince the next guy that any of this is true. I can't even describe the mental processes that led to these conclusions. All i seem able to do is to proceed in the direction the thoughts lead, as they come to me in a fashion that very often seems external. Examine the assertions that continue to spill out of me at 2 in the morning like this. Notice with joy that there seem to be many others reaching similar conclusions: Things are terminally fucked up and only Love can save us. If it turns out that we're not saved, that the whole human experiment is doomed to fail, i'll breathe my last breath in the knowledge that i walked the talk spoken by all my heroes in tongues long lost to history, or new today, or unspoken yet understood by common nature. I don't think i'm alone. I don't know how to be afraid of that.