Monday, January 23, 2012
“Because we all share an identical need for love, it is possible to feel that anybody we meet, in whatever circumstances, is a brother or sister. No matter how new the face or how different the dress or behavior, there is no significant division between us and other people. It is foolish to dwell on basic differences, because our basic natures are the same.” — Dalai Lama
So our little Occupy group met with Colorado Springs City Council member Tim Leigh the other night. He came to meet us at our regular haunt, graciously provided by independent local business the Cafe Corto.
Tim is an affable dude, and our meeting seemed to go well, at least in the sense that we were able to develop a rapport with him and come away with a sense of friendliness, if not friendship. Tim is a self-described member of the 1%, an appellation that derives from specific statistics involving wealth which has acquired connotations as a result of Occupy that Tim may not be so quick to embrace. Fact is, i really don't know enough about the guy to decide for myself whether or not he deserves application of the darker connotations or not. The group at the meeting is as diverse as any formed in October's Occupy crucible, and as has been characteristic of the movement in general, each in attendance holds individual interpretations of just what Occupy is, and what we mean to accomplish. Good ol' Thomas, in the course of his regular series of uncontrolled and only marginally civil outbursts, vehemently denied we constitute a "movement." Others sought mostly to find little political fulcra with which to pry at Tim's scales, (in case he's a shape-shifting alien, i suppose). None of this was surprising--we are a group dedicated to disruption of the entrenched, monied status quo, working within a rough framework of fairly aggressive expression worldwide, if nothing else.
Tim weathered the various clods of dirt whipped up by the wind as one might expect from either a politician, which label he denies, or a very rich real estate wheeler-dealer, which would be ludicrous to attempt to gainsay. I don't have the motivation to dig up lots of facts about Tim Leigh's business dealings, but we know well enough that his name is on an awful lot of buildings around town, and he lives on a tidy and isolated landscaped lot up on the Mesa, where the houses are all overpriced, the better to keep the riff-raff away. His house is almost certainly bigger than yours. No one is apt to be shocked by those minor revelations. In fact, his now predictable assertions to be "in the same boat" as we would be fairly ludicrous to the casual observer, except that i think he's right on the money with that one, though perhaps not as he sees it. Thomas asserts that we are an issue-driven--something not a movement--and he's right about issues, at least in part. Tim is himself in a political position and making plenty of sounds i recognized as definitively politician-like in spite of his disavowals of the label. Focus on issues seems to be relatively comfortable, and certainly easier than addressing the grand thematics that permeate Occupy to the chagrin of some of its more terrestrially grounded aspirants, as well as its critics. As a result our conversation with Tim was often side-railed into issue oriented lulls, at least in my mind, though i acknowledge the importance of issues as well. I'm just a grand theme kind of guy.
Tim had a few disturbing things to say about a few issues, like his statement that fracking in eastern El Paso county is "inevitable." He said a few intriguing things as well. I bet he already regrets toying with the notion of giving OCS a building. He even let slip his own secret fears that the whole economic system might collapse. One thing that immediately raised lots of hackles, oddly enough, was his bemused question about the religious orientation of us Occupiers. And there's the rub. Or at least one big one.
I promised to eschew incidental reporting for a while, and i am. Really. This may seem like reporting, but it's otherworldly speculation. I suppose Chet will handle specifics well enough. Tim demonstrated a bit of a dichotomy one comes across in the Occupy phenomenon by stressing issues and suggesting ways for us to work with the System to get things to work out our way. This response to Occupy crops up all the time, both externally and internally. I met with a foreclosure working group in Denver last weekend, and spoke with a "constituent advocate" in Senator Michael Bennett's office last week. The dichotomy arose there as well. The thing is, lots of people, including lots of Occupiers, are trying to figure out how to work within the System, however it may manifest, to change Things for the better. This is the ground where one finds the crossover between Occupy here in America, and the Tea Party. Again, everyone has a different take, but many express the thing as a desire to return to the Constitution, or to reclaim the "American Dream," "End the Fed," get money out of politics, or whatever, within a range of tactical thinking from addressing Congress and local pols, through--well, shooting Congress and local pols.
On the other hand, there's a big batch of us that see the problems Occupy engages as rather beyond systemic reach and veering into if not fully established as spiritual issues. Although some at our meeting took auto-umbrage at Tim's query, i think he asked the question in good faith, (ahem), and had worked up a rather bemused state for himself about our expression and motivation. Tim, you see, is a "pragmatist," he says. He works the old system like a farm pump, and out comes serviceable, if foul-tasting, water. We look like Jesus freaks or something, to him, idealistic apotheoses.
We esoteric Occupiers, as one might call us, don't see any hope at all from within the System, or at best, very little. (I'm willing to entertain the possible viability of the U.S. constitution, for example, if only because of its inherent malleability). We aren't especially interested in, for example, the slick approach of establishment solutions to the foreclosure crisis where the government throws grease on the banking cartels' bone-grinding machinery, setting up programs that allow mortgage holders to continue to be pillaged, a little less uncomfortably. Or policies that allow politicians to bray like drunken mules over the reductions in increase (!) in toxic emissions over the next fifty years when we all know damn well that the rate of extinction of species will have the very cockroaches fighting over table scraps soon enough to make fifty years seem a shaky proposition. Or bullshit excuses about some XX-anianstani or another that's supposed to be aiming another batch of invisible weaponry at us while cartel honchos hop on a plane for Jerusalem so they can watch the fireworks from there, and record their profit and loss at close quarters.
We don't like the damn crooked, snaky, backstabbing, cheststabbing, competitive, might-give-you-a-break-after-i-get-mine-otherwise-fuck-you-and-yours System, and really, we figure that even if it sounds ridiculous to many we've come to a point where abolishing the System is the only way to save our now tenuous hold on viable life here on Earth. We don't see much pragmatism in working within the System in an effort to abolish the System. In fact there's some concern that the thing may collapse on your head, doing it that way. There's a real sense of unobtainability in working inside the System, akin to the application of Godel's Incompleteness Theorem i posted earlier. It really seems to us fringe thinkers that the best one can do by working within the System is to expose it's inherent, indivisible, insuperable bankruptcy.
I've been criticized, (by an Atheist that simply couldn't tolerate discussion of Anything outside his Box), for attaching Undue significance to certain ordinary terms by targeted capitalization. Here in this very post, i've capitalized the terms, "System," and "Things," in order to attach significance to them that i don't see as undue. I'm really not so sure what Tim Leigh, or even other Occupiers mean when we bandy those terms about in conversation so very casually. I strongly suspect, though, that their use is far more fluid and troublesome than we notice until we condemn our fellows for misstatements that only derive from failing to recognize one another's usage. So let me explain that i am not restricting the Terms to ordinary usage involving mere political or financial systems or things, but expect them to be interpreted in a kind of supra-dimensional sense where the mundane is enfolded into a set batch of meaning we can't really plumb so well.
The point is we need a new System if Things are going to work out for Us. Get it? I've often said that i'm part of the 100%. That includes Tim Leigh, whether or not we can trust him. It includes N-eeew-t Grinch-rich. I includes, say, Eric Holder the U.S. AG that has the sheer balls to hire on in his current capacity, straight off the payroll at Covington & Burling where he helped big bankers commit the crime of the millennium. No shit. There's just no way to trust a guy like that. But we're all in this boat together, alright, even if some of us are busy drilling holes in the bottom. This System where we steadily compete to see which of us can screw the most of us over simply isn't working. And i don't think we can come out any better if we simply rearrange the game board a little so we can screw Holder, instead.
A different Eric, this one a dear friend, says i oughtn't to hesitate to speak "for Occupy" in the media, and expresses discomfiture when i say i can only speak for myself. But i can't always speak for everyone. Not all Occupiers agree with the idea that a spiritually oriented re-imagining of Human consciousness and interaction--a Paradigm Shift--is central to our focus. But it is, because no political ideology is apt to rescue us from ourselves. We humans have soundly fucked Things up. We have the wherewithal to fix our messes, but only if we completely and utterly rearrange our values. Sometimes we Occupiers still need some rearranging, too, and the business of demolition of our own hoary paradigms and approaches has been uncomfortable already. It's not so likely to get much easier, either, but here we are at sea together. We'd best all put our drills away.
All these themes are in earlier posts, and i expect they'll come up again. We esotericists could be wrong about it all. The huge body of science professionals warning of impending and serious environmental dangers could be completely wrong, or even manipulated by power-grabbing globalists, (though that would fall within the scope of this notion of System over system). Being wrong about the imminence of karmic backlash doesn't negate the ethical reality that we just don't do each other right. That we're simply way to caught up with our own rather infantile egos. We really don't think the numbers are to easily deniable, though, so even though we know this business of attempting to shift the consciousness and motivation of the entire species is absurdly grandiose and improbable, what else can we do? Do or die, it is. And when the whole Thing collapses, hopefully some of us will still be standing. If it does, and we are, Tim, Newt, and Eric are all welcome to stop by for a sandwich, if we still have one. Same goes for those Occupiers alienated by differences of opinion. In the meantime, we mean to fight the Dark aspects of the System tooth and nail, both from within and without.
Friday, January 13, 2012
Whew! These Occupy posts are far more difficult to pry from myself than their predecessors; the hands-on mechanics of putting the earlier stuff into practice in the present world, amongst the isolated pools of individuated consciousness we humans represent, each with his or her own vision of the whole, has been at the very least disorienting. I've lately revived an old motto i swiped from the good people at Oat Willie's down in Austin, Texas: "Onward Through the Fog!" How odd is it that i've recently connected with some folks that hark back to that place in ways that are deeply surreal. Oat Willie's and Fat Freddy will seem to be completely out of place in this bit, in which i mean to address the notion of cooperation amongst disparate factions, but not permanently i hope. By the end of this post, i hope to connect Occupy, The Tea Party, disparate passions, and yes, Hippies. It will be necessary to engage in some relatively surreal thinking.
Last night on a new Facebook page, "UNITE: OCCUPY," (cap lock and all), i got into a conversation about this stuff started by a guy that asked whether anyone thought a joint event between Occupiers and Tea Partiers might be possible. Sure, i said, our Colorado Springs group had lots of Tea Partiers among its earliest enthusiasts, and although many have pulled away, there still exists a close association with many that veer sharply toward the Te Party camp, especially among Ron Paul supporters. The common ground Occupy shares with the Tea Party, at least at a grass root level, is substantial. There can be no doubt of the equally substantial differences. I suspect that it would take some pretty serious ideological barnstorming to bring the two camps together, but nothing prevents the groups from at least tentative discussion to find commonalities.
Tonight our Occupy group staged a talk by Tea Party stalwart, Constitutionalist Mike Holler. Mike seemed for all appearances to be an earnest and well-versed supporter of Constitutional "fundamentalism," if you will. He peppered his talk with lots of my favorite quotes from my favorite founding fathers. He got a little testy about the revisionist history his kids bring home from college early on--perhaps indicative of one point of separation between Occupiers and Tea Partiers. Some of those are important. Occupy is international, where the Tea Party can display degrees of jingoism. I, personally, respect the earnest efforts of our Enlightenment founders, but recognize that they were flawed, and aver that their document was dated by racist, sexist, and elitist provisions and thinking that they might be excused from by noting their temporal milieu. We don't have the same luxury. Occupy is legitimately grass root, supported by sweat and blood more than funded, where TP is, or at least became very quickly corporately funded "astroturf," disingenuously proffering libertarian ideals as a smoke screen for corporate license to plunder. Occupiers are in my experience far more diverse than Tea Partiers. Socialist and Anarchist Occupiers are common, as are assorted races, genders, orientations, and religious persuasions, where Tea Partiers seem to my limited observation to be relatively homogeneously white Christian capitalist patriots. Mike interjected that both groups had been misrepresented by the media, and that seems likely to be so given that mainstream media seems content to misrepresent 'bout anything they report in this country, but Fox news and the rabid right like the Tea Party so much i have to wonder if he's fallen victim to a personal soft spot.
Mike spoke eloquently enough in his effort to simplify the Constitution, focusing on issues of freedom, and state's rights. He said very little with which i could find disagreement. He pointed out two major points of confluence between Occupy and the Tea Party--personal liberty, and a rally-cry, "No more Bailouts!" I suspect he fastidiously avoided some points he knew or at least feared might be contentious, like for example the ludicrous assertions i've heard often that environmental warnings from the scientific community stem from some kind of Satanic control scheme from the--well just from whom is never too clear. The Vatican or something. Commies, i guess. That just maybe the best way for Tea Partiers and Occupiers to interact, though, for now, concentrating on the common aversion to what amounts to Fascism. Interacting from that perspective could exclude much conversation. It could put the Tea Party in the same position as the Occupy movement, after their Fascist sponsors withdraw in horror. Whatever. We Occupiers got on just fine with Tea Party Mike--"Mr. Constitution."
Mike largely expressed notions we Occupiers could embrace. I suppose he could have done a bit of research and tailored his speech toward that end, but i think we just agree; he seemed a grassroots kind of guy, to me. He briefly alluded to schisms within the Tea Party, and there's no sensible reason to avoid acknowledging the same within Occupy. Last night's event was attended by Occupy people that have had such extreme altercations in their attempts to wrestle a semblance of ideological unity from a stubbornly liquid platform that it could easily enough have disintegrated into bedlam. I attended with my dear friend Thomas, with whom i often disagree. In fact, he and i often disagree so strongly that sometimes i feel like smacking him in back of the head. I expect he feels the same way about me at times. Maybe much of the time. Take note, war-mongers of the world: Thomas is a great guy, and even though we disagree with one another, sometimes strongly, neither of us has smacked the other in back of the head. Get it?
So here we were last night, disparate Occupiers engaging a Tea Party mouthpiece in a room full of people that have all experienced the vagaries of human interaction under a fairly pressurized circumstance over the past few months. No butterflies fluttered around the room, but no one worked up a bickering session, either. We worked together. All of us. One could recall the old adage that "The enemy of my enemy is my friend," but that would be devolution. I prefer to imagine that those with arguments present recognized the futility of scrapping amongst friends, if only below the radar of their Egos. Whether my nobler hopes for those pained souls in the room last night are valid or not, the assertions i made in these non-pages well before Occupy began remain true. The system we wrestle against is collapsing around our heads. And the solution is spiritual, to a far greater extent than it is temporal.
Fat Freddy is a comic book character that lives in Denver. Seriously. I met him a little while ago. (This only seems out of place, i promise.) Mr. Constitution Mike Holler expressed the opinion last night that our American republic, our constitutional federation of states, is in its final throes; that we are in a position where, " it's too late to save the country, but too early to start shooting." Mike seemed tentative in expressing his hope that God might pull some kind of supernatural rabbit from his celestial hat to resolve our monumental national woes. I expect he feared perturbing the often non-Christian sensibilities of the Occupiers. He needn't have worried quite so much--we may be largely skeptical of literal interpretations, but we're pretty tolerant of that sort of thing. When i met Fat Freddy--an icon of counter-cultural activism important to me since childhood, an old-school Hippie with connection to the most famous and infamous of that crowd--he singled me out and pulled me aside to explain in some detail his expectation for a spiritual upheaval in coming days. Freddy's taken up with the Urantia Book, a tome i've heard Christians disparage as devilish. I couldn't see anything devilish about what he showed me. He earnestly explained his expectation for resolution. Soon.
We had come to Denver to talk about foreclosures and bank jiggery-pokery with another guy, and pulled up at Freddy's house without knowing it. It just happened that way. These old Hippies like Tea Party fave, Ron Paul. (Follow along, now, i know it's weird, and yeah, i know a lot of Occupiers don't like Paul; i'm not sure about him myself). Also in attendance at that meeting was a woman i had been conversing with on line for quite a while in the context of Occupy. It took me nearly through the whole meeting to recognize her, because i knew her to live down in the Four Corners neighborhood of Colorado. She lives at Freddy's now. This juxtaposition is so weird that now i'm expecting the Mad Hatter, or Lewis Carroll himself to pop up at some meeting quoting from Jabberwocky. Mike Holler holds out for resolution to the country's woes in a traditional Christian context. My own suspicion, shared with J.B.S. Haldane, is that the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose. But somewhere in the mix i am convinced that some divine Thing many of us think of as God is deeply interested in the little proceedings here on our little blue marble and that our interactions are subsequently and necessarily thus influenced.
We live right here. We have no choice but to manage things on a coarse, physical level; but we also live, i think, on an overlapping and less tangible plane, where we have more influence than we might ordinarily imagine. At the same time, things seem to occur herethere without our conscious direction. We'll need to keep plugging away at things like grasping the Constitution, and taking on massive, quixotic quests like fighting banks and a world full of renegade, intransigent governments and power brokers, not to mention our own internal battles, as finely defined as within our own Souls. We'll need to recognize the Truth in one another, even when it's obscured by a bunch of worldly disagreement and fog. And so far as i can tell, were learning. Whatever that means.