Sunday, 30 October 2011

Quote of the Week - Safran Foer

"Sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I'm not living. "

Happy Halloween!

Friday, 28 October 2011

Watch out for the 2D 3D

A day after marching with Occupy Wall Street and not too far from Occupy DC, we visited the Sculpture Garden at The National Mall.  There had been a lot of FB and Twitter debate about violence at the protests - police brutality and over-use of force.  Since we were there - we chimed in - and were told by people hundreds and thousands of miles away, that we were wrong.  A picture is worth a thousand words, but nobody ever said those thousand words had to be true.  Beware extrapolating the whole story from one frame.

As we walked through the garden, there was this house sculpture by Lichtenstein

When you walk, the perspective changes before your eyes - going from an inverted L-shape to a V-shape which looks like a real house.  It's a trompe l'oeil effect, very cleverly and beautifully used - also super-fun.  I decided to shoot it  - from different angles, as if I were walking along.  Of course, and I should have realized, the effect is totally lost in a two-dimensional image.

It is clear from my photos that I have changed perspective in relation to the sculpture, but the sculpture, effectively, remains a little house.

I turned to Mark and showed him the pictures.  "See," I said, "this is what happens when you try to interpret lfe from a picture."  "You get it all wrong," he said.  "You get it all wrong.  And that's the blog," I said.  "And that's the blog," he replied.

Always beware the 2-D 3-D.  Check your perspective.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

There's Something About Bill Moyers

There is something about Bill Moyers.  That simple and direct manner, that drawl and unhurried speech, hiding sharp intellect and keen insight.  It's easy to forget he's spent most of his life living in Manhattan, quietly changing journalism and the world - he seems like your nicest neighbor or a country doctor who prescribes good sense instead of pills.  In the world of progressive, liberal thinkers, he's the one who will always bring it back to faith and God and spirit.

I was privileged to be in the room last night to hear him speak to an audience of hundreds, maybe a thousand people for well over an hour.  Plain talk.  Unafraid to tell his own truth.  It was like taking a bath in value and clarity. 

To hear someone bring America full circle - back to our founding documents - to hold us accountable to the tenets we set up - leaving rhetoric, ideology, sensationalism, cynicism and frustration behind - was a clear bell ringing, resonating beyond the stretch of chaos we inhabit.  (Spoken word artists take note - herein lies the difference between just another rant and truly affecting speech.)

He opened his talk with some meditations on violence (this being Oklahoma City and the site of the devastating bombing in 1995) and spoke of the America's "culture of cruelty."  He asked when we had become "the Walmart of weaponry,"  a question that sliced through the audience. 

Moyers came out firmly for the Occupy movement, saying that what the Occupy movement knows is that,"Wall Street has  occupyied America,"  as well as putting it in historical perspective.  He reminded that all movements have started in this way - from the Suffragette movement to the Civil Rights movement, and that is perhaps not yet right to condemn the protesters for not having a platform.  However, he said that they must politicize in order to achieve any goals.  He called upon us to exercise our right to Democracy repeatedly, and also said he supports the Dream Act.

Moyers straight talk moved the audience to several standing ovations.  The 99% were in full effect (I'm not kidding - some people brought signs!) and they are not who you think they are   The audience was over 50, truly over 60 and 70 all the way up to 89.  There was a lot of white and grey hair in evidence.  The few students in the crowd stood out.  Mostly couples, primarily middle class, sensible and church-going people sat in the chairs watching him and supporting every word and, I think, wishing he'd run for president.

His words for the 1%?  "Money is a dagger aimed at the heart of democracy."  While Moyers believes that wealthy people should be allowed to buy more homes, cars, boats, "gizmos," and other comforts, he does not believe that wealth should allow people to, "buy more democracy."

I am your father
It's easy to forget, with his modest manner, that this man in front of you has changed television, journalism and the world several times over, but his reach is not to be underestimate.  If he had only made The Power of Myth with Joseph Campbell - only that and none of his other work - he could be said to have changed the face of Western culture in the 20th and 21st centuries.  Putting Campbell's work out in front of such a broad audience has not only changed our language and dialogue, it has changed and informed the way we make art and discuss it.  American movies and culture have invaded the world with its hero's journey principles and these insights on story and structure throughout the ages came from Campbell, and it was Moyers who gave him the platform to speak.  Arguably, one could pin the New Age movement at least partially on Moyers, but I won't go that far.  He certainly changed the face and reach of public television, or perhaps, more accurately, helped create its credibility, scope and formats.

Moyers has quietly carved out his own brand of journalism, infused it with faith, the idea of healing and proactive motion.  He has imposed intellectual rigour on religious and creative discussions and demanded that intellectual and analytical discussions do not discount spirit.  His Language of Life series put poetry out in front of American audiences in a new way (if you think this didn't help jump-start the spoken word world, think again).  His Genesis series was a revelation (pun intended) and a breakhrough multi-denominatonal exploration of the sacred text.  Looking back at his prolific body of work over time, it is clear that he has used his power to create the purest expression of his intentions.

From Obama to finals stages at NPS and WOW and IWPS, we get inspired.  So what.  The question is:  what happens next?  If we just go home and look at the piles of our life and feel helpless again, or overwhelmed or frustrated, then what good was all that sweet talking?  Like a sexy drifter looking for a bed for the night, the orator in question seduced us pretty and we fell for it.  Then he or she left town, leaving us with a hangover and dirty sheets.

If Moyers spoke to anything last night, he spoke to process and continual involvement -- in life, in community, in government.

We've forgotten somewhere along the line that hope and inspiration are only the first step in a chain of actions to be taken.  There is a process to betterment of self and community that requires critical thinking and analysis, collaboration and action.  We have radicalized our reactions - inspiration versus dejection, hope versus fear, status quo versus revolution - because somewhere along the line we have let go of the tools of building - we are leaving out all the steps in the middle.  You don't necessarily have to tear down a system to fix it.  You have to break it down analytically, thoughtfully, critically; hopefully in a room full of people with good minds.  The colonists didn't destroy England to create America.  They locked representatives in a room to debate the idea, structure, and form of government and came out with the Declaration of Independence, and later the Bill of Rights and the Articles of the Constitution (yeah - they're hyperlinked - go ahead and read them - when was the last time you did?).  England and her charters still stand.  They formed a new system from thought and debate and then built it to inhabit it.  As we discover cracks in the foundation, as our family expands, is the solution always to tear the house down?  When did we stop fixing the cracks and leaks, repairing damage from weather and time, and adding new rooms to accommodate new occupants? 

Moyers fears we  have abandoned "We the People" in favour of "me, myself, and I,"  and wonders if   we have already gone too far, creating problems beyond our ability to fix.  He cited other times in our history when this was the case - most potently the Civil War, when we could not resolve the issue of slavery.  (Like now, the pre-Civil War period was indicative of social and economic conditions becoming entwined in ways that required the dismantling of a system and the jeopardization of a privileged way of life to move forward.) 

I cannot think that we want to create internal strife and violence in order to solve the problems we have created in our financial and social systems.  I have to think that we can do better than that.  Yet we cannot fix these things sitting on our couches. 

We must go discover our own truths and live them intentionally, but we must also create balance between personal, political, and communal.  We must dance with what Moyers calls "the animal spirits of money and power," - there is truth in his assessment - these forces are primal and hiding from their reality only increases their strength.  We cannot keep anesthetizing, hate-mongering and name-calling.  It's just too silly and no way to spend a life, let alone the millions of lives being spent this way.

Most importantly, I think, we must listen to voices of reason and experience when and where we can find them. They are there, hiding behind and between the endless drone of Fox News and the Father Coughlin-replicants spewing hate rhetoric, like an SOS on a low-end frequency they are there.  Listen.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Quote of the Week - Morrison

At some point in life the world's beauty becomes enough. You don't need to photograph, paint, or even remember it. It is enough. 
- Toni Morrison (via Goodreads)
Toni Morrison

Pretty much devoting today to beauty.  Sometimes that means a whole lot of housecleaning!  Enjoy this week before things start to want to feel like winter.

P.S.  Do you like the new look?

P.P.S.  It's totally awesome if you leave comments ON THE BLOG!  I would LOVE that!  I like hearing about how you read it when I see you or talk to you, but it'd be cool if you commented on the blog - then you could talk to each other, too!

Monday, 17 October 2011

Quote of the Week - Roy

"That's what careless words do. They make people love you a little less."

It is so extremely important to use our words properly right now.  We are at a crossroads with the Occupy movements, with foreign policy, with our humanity.  Let's care more and tread slowly.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Nashville Is Sooooooo BRATTY!

BratIt's no secret that Brat in Santa Monica is my fave place to shop.  They have the coolest clothes at the best prices, and their own bratty style.  Owner Nancy is a style icon and the nicest Midwest Gal hanging out in LA ever!  She's been dressing punks, poets, and derby chicks in LA for 30 years (for those who remember NaNa in LA - I always went to the NY one).

With her red hair, big smile, and fun style, Nancy is the heart of Brat.  It's her birthday this week - so HAPPY BIRTHDAY!  Thank you for giving us full closets on empty bank accounts!

My first time in Nashville and boy is it BRATTY!  Here's a pic of the first clothing store I stumbled upon.  I made my friend stop the mini-van so I could get out:

These Cowgirls don't get the blues - they sing them!

Clearly anyone who can subtitle themselves "Ranch Dressing" is my kinda chick.  Inside was a mix of Vintage and new - they have a seamstress on site to tailor or do custom orders.  I wanted the black, red and white cowboy boots with hearts, spades, diamonds and clubs on them, a slim, pencil skirt dress with a faux fur leopard collar, all the crinolines, and a red plaid (I mean tartan) jumper (I mean a dress you wear oversomething else, not a sweater) mini-dress.

Nashville is a city that knows itself and is comfortable with what it is.  This is not so easy as you think.  It means it doesn't fake swagger, it just is.

Crossing the border into Tennessee, you quickly realize that this is where music lives.  I'm pretty sure I'm the only person in this whole city who can't play a guitar. They are serious about guitars and Jesus here.   They seem to take everything else in stride.

I'd no idea the Americana Music Festival was on - OMG - we were too late for passes and wristbands, but might try to wrestle our way into a venue tonight.  Also happening this weekend is the Southern Festival of Books which we hope to check out Sunday.  Have hung out at the Scarritt-Bennett Gallery and Cafe which brings together artists, performance artists, writers with a focus on women, spirituality and confronting racism.

So far the coffee is good, the weather is fine and we're feeling awlright.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

The Little Neutrino That Could

(OMG - totally forgot to post this when it was current.  Oh well.)

Okay - hullaballoo!  Einstein was wrong!  We've misinterpreted EVERYTHING.  The Skylab is falling...OHNOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

Right.  Well, I keep having a problem with the reactions to this news that some particles (neutrinos and muons and taus ohmy!) managed to go 60 billionths of a second faster than the speed of light.

This has been widely reported, but in case you missed it ---- GO HERE.  (Or if you're feeling extra-fancy, GO HERE.)

Now, barring any errors - which is still up for grabs - this is awesomely fun news.  It means, well, what does it mean?

Is time travel now possible or at least conceivable?

Is light not the high bar of speed?

Do we need to revise and update all textbooks much to the happiness of the fading book publishing industry?

What if Einstein wasn't wrong?  
What if Darwin wasn't wrong?

What if our paradigm for the universe - or more to the point The Universe - is what needs a shift.

Why have we decided that universal laws are all constant and never-shifting, staying exactly in place until we catch up to them figure them out, quantify them, solidify them and move on to the next mystery?

What in the actual universe does not shift and change over time?

What if this pack of neutrinos were the Roger Bannister of neutrinos - the ones that vibrated higher, and moved faster?

Why, like a Tea Party Soccer Mom, do we refuse to let the universe evolve?

Maybe we can't isolate Dark Matter cause it's just too tricky for us - it evolves faster than we can think.

The scientists who did the CERN experiment may be proven wrong.

I am not a scientist, if anything I'm a conjecturist, so it would probably take a scientist less than a billionth of a second to prove me wrong.

Maybe I'm the Lietuenant Columbo of philosophers - poised at the doorway, about to leave, before I turn my head and say,...."just one more thing."  So - one last question:

If species evolve, plates shift, oceans rise and fall, polar caps melt, orbits vary, black holes fluctuate, stars die, space expands, if everything we can know by our senses has some type of life cycle to it, then what part of the universe itself is immutable over time?

Is it not at all possible that what we are now recording is a change or a shift - and not the end of all theory and data that came before it?  Is it not possible that we and the universe are locked in a dance - where we - the observers - over time by our presence shift the outcome?

The only constant is change.  Everyone knows this in their heart to be true, whether they like the truth of it or not.  Yet, we have decided that there are constants that never change.  Do we know this empirically, statistically, experimentally, or do we simply need it to be true?  Can any statistical or experimental evidence we have be enough, quantifiably, in the face of the entire universe over all of time, prove effectively that anything is an immutable law?

We make assumptions.  We do.  We are told not to, but we do.  Many of our systems are based on mutually-agreed upon assumptions.  Mathematics, the Stock Market, the Billboard charts.  We do need building blocks - we need to start somewhere.  But maybe we've just jumped up a level.  Maybe we have the opportunity to think differently now - to let the universe breathe - let it up for some air.  We've been holding it down underwater like the mystical Loch Ness monster trying to parse it without experiencing it for too long now.

Do all humans behave in the same way?  All trees?  We have a set of possible reactions, but even those shift with time and place.  As we learn and teach ourselves, we get more abilities - personally and generationally.  Does the universe not have generations within it - are subatomic particles immune from change?  Is anything?

We want very badly for Einstein's theories to be not only true, but perpetual.  We want something to lean on that won't break - Genesis (the book, not the band), the Theory of Relativity, the Declaration of Independence, new episodes of The Simpsons - but just because we want it, does that make it possible?

Or does everything we can conceive of at all, have a growth - and death - cycle?  Including the speed of particles.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Quote of the Week - Krugman

"They’re not John Galt; they’re not even Steve Jobs. They’re people who got rich by peddling complex financial schemes that, far from delivering clear benefits to the American people, helped push us into a crisis whose aftereffects continue to blight the lives of tens of millions of their fellow citizens"

- Paul Krugman

Well, if he's gonna do the segue for me - Ayn Rand and Steve Jobs - how can I not put up another quote this week?

Read the article here.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

“There’s an old Wayne Gretzky quote that I love: ‘I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.’ And we’ve always tried to do that at Apple. Since the very, very beginning."

-Steve Jobs (1955 - 2011)

Visionary.  Insanely Great.  Thought Different.

I'm not sure I want to live in a post-Jobs world.  Genius leaves a vacuum.  Maybe that's where black holes come from - the emptiness created by the deaths of those carrying true genius.  Thus, they will ever increase, yet the universe expands accordingly, and we keep trying to fill the hole.

Don't rest in peace.  Vibrate at an exceedingly high frequency on a parallel plane stirring creative energy in such a way that you make the destined seem to be a series of random and serendipitous miracles.


Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Democracy Is Dull

Photo by Flickr user richdrogpa
Pretty Highline
Ok, went to the March today.  Occupy Wall St. and all that.  Was with Practivist Mark Walton - visiting NYC and Keith, and Carlos. 

After a trip to the Highline, and my failed few attempts to begin operation "Occupy the Highline!" - we set off.  (Okay, just what is so wrong with occupying the Highline?  It's light and airy, has awesome seating, green space, great views.  Wall St. - dingy, sleazy, dirty, icky.)

We were fashionably late, but popped into the march right off the City Hall subway stop.

Confessions of a Bad Blogger/Liberal #1 - Forgot the camera.  For real.  So used to using my iPod, which was dead, and which I left behind, I didn't even bother to grab the camera.  (Uh-oh, dead iPod - sad symbol of today.)  Right - so no first-hand pictures.

Confessions of a Bad Blogger/Liberal #2 - I hate protests.  Rallies.  Marches.  I hate them.  Every time I'm persuaded to go, or that I should go, and then I go, I spend most of the time wondering what I am doing there.  I believe in activism, engagement, and the importance of participation in your own governance, but I've never understood the use of walking down the street, holding a sign, chanting something silly, and generally being in a bundle of people. 

I was reminded of francEyE several times today.  She demonstrated as long as she was still in LA.  She went downtown for an immigration protest one time.  We were in the car together sometime later and she was telling me about it.  She was most upset.  Most upset that she had NOT been arrested.  She felt quite strongly that she hadn't done her job at the protest if she hadn't been arrested.  She even worried that maybe the police were being nice to her because she was old, and might have arrested her were she younger.  I thought of that today, because, truth be told, I didn't want to be arrested, and truth be told, I'm not sure a protest is effective if it doesn't include that type of risk.  I loved francEyE for a lot of things - including beliefs she had that were very different from mine.  I loved her for showing up decade after decade for something I thought of as most likely futile.
Occupy Wall Street demonstrators march to Foyle Square
Best sign of the day=amazing metal work- can't make that at home!

Confessions of a Bad Blogger/Liberal #3 - I still don't know what the Occupation is about.  I get the idea of creating a movement and the 99%.  I understand amped up frustration levels; I totally get that as a people we feel our leadership has left us adrift in a very leaky boat with no life jackets.  I see people of all ages and genres here, and it's a bit surprising.

The march ended abruptly and without fanfare - dumped us into the square that has been occupied since September 17th by activists.  We started talking to a girl there.  She's been there 5 nights - came up from Florida in order to be part of this.  She talked of food given out - mostly cold food - and work details - she didn't have one, but she helped.  We saw generators powering bloggers and tarps covering mini-campsites.  A couple of guys played and sang a little ditty about the 99% and I thought for sure I'd stumbled into the middle of an episode of Flight of the Conchords where they decide they can get chicks if they go to the protest march.  I feel like a tourist and in a way I am.  I'm looking for some answers and some energy flow that I'm just not feeling.  Overall, the energy is low, diffuse, comes in waves and is not common to the crowd as a whole, but lives in small pockets or groups of marchers.  This is good in some ways.  It makes us safer - too much energy scares cops and might make people do stupid things.  It is also sad - this should be all about energy.  Where is the tide?

Confessions of a Bad Blogger/Liberal #4 - I was bored.  Bored bored bored.  Walking in little shuffling steps - the 7 or 8 blocks took an hour.  In the same batch of people with the same signs and chants.  On the dull downtown streets.  I goaded Keith with Century 21 and almost succeeded in getting him to shop!  We made fun of ourselves for that while Mark took crowd video.   I pretend-interviewed Mark and Keith with a pretend-microphone asking them what their sign woudl read if they had one.  Mark's was "About f**king time."  My sign:  "Dear Police Officer:  Please don't beat me up.  I have no health insurance."

Here's the truth:  participation in your own representation can be incredibly slow-paced and tedious.  Vigilance is like a soccer match - you sit there for 3 hours watching carefully and closely and hope that someone does something interesting before time is called.  It's no wonder we hire other people (like Congressman and Senators) to represent us in this process --- and perhaps no wonder that  they try to make it more interesting for themselves at our expense.

Yes - democracy and its siblings are filled with long, boring patches.  Spurts of time we are used to being entertained out of.  Watching The Daily Show is not actually activism.  It's awesome, fun, life-affirming, but not activism.  Marching might not be either, per se, but it is putting your time, energy, effort, and safety on the line for the sake of being counted.  Voting is another one of these acts - perhaps time-consuming, perhaps futile - but another place we can show up to our own representation.  There are plenty more ways to do this - that's why I promote practivism and practivists here as much as possible. 

I don't have a stake in how the occupiers spend their time.  A leaderless movement can be a beautiful thing, but it can also go around in slow circles and burn everyone out.  Leaders emerge - sometimes they are proactive and sincere, sometimes they are nascent fascists, sometimes they are a combination.  Charismatic and fervent leaders can be dangerous.  So can aimlessness.  I don't have an answer.  I didn't get any today.  Only more questions.

I came back to find out that Steve Jobs had died.  The truth is life is short.  The truth is finding your passion is the only thing that makes life longer, nurutring it is what makes life liveable and following it purposefully is the only thing that makes life remarkable. 

The truth is that anesthetizing comes in many forms and disguises and is insidious.   Holding up signs threatening billionaires might be your passion - follow it.  Or, it might also be your anesthesia.  Beware. 

P.S.  We didn't see any violence.  We got the sense it might occur just as darkness was falling.  Police seemed to triple in number; police vehicles were in evidence, as were plastic cuffs.  We took the change in tone as our .cue to move on, and find Carlos, who'd been waiting for us and watching it all go by with a much more interesting view.  Judging from my googling, there were some incidents of violent interaction between the police and the crowd shortly after we decided to leave.

Monday, 3 October 2011

The Other 99% (A Too-Long Blog)

I've suffered a great deal of confusion in the days of this Occupy Wall St. campaign.  I want to support it, in theory, but I don't truly know what it is.  I don't know what to call it - protest, rally, sit-in, community action - and I don't know what it's for.

I could have saved myself a lot of confusion had I just said the last phrase aloud.

In our personal lives, we strain for positivity (not always the best way to achieve it)  We lip service  gratitude, abundance, goal-setting, self-esteem, growth.  We clutch The Secret like a new bible book discovered in a long-forgotten cave.  We prayed to Oprah at 3pm daily.

We have taught ourselves that we must focus on the positive in order to achieve it.  We have demonstrated this with our lives.  Eyes on the prize.

So where does this go when we take up a "cause"?

Occupy Wall St. feels very much like a fighting against.  I do not know what they are spending their very valuable time, energy and intellect on.  I know that they are frustrated and angry (although they seem to be the mellowest frustrated and angry people ever).  I just don't know what a positive outcome would be in the situation they are provoking.

What are they fighting FOR?

Nicholas Kristof has made some suggestions here, and they are good ones, pragmatic ones, yet I've no idea if he's putting words into the mouth of this movement.  Zestyverse has championed Practivism (pragmatic, proactive, promotable activism) and Occupy Wall St. as yet does not qualify.  They are not getting coverage (though they are, truthfully) becuase they simply don't have a message.  As street theatre, they are quite unremarkable in a city where every street is a stage, in a world where natural disasters sweep away houses in the Phillipines and  ice caps melt and break off, where nations are fighting each other and themselves to create some kind of structure.

I'm not a fan of Wall Street or the stock market.  However, as the largest collective delusion we share, and the one most capable of creating abundance from absolutely nothing but  belief, it bears serious study.  Wall Street is home to some of the most amazing conjurers since He Who Shall Not Be Named.  They create millions of dollars from the idea of value.  That's powerful.

The markets have been as volatile as the American psyche in the last month.  Yet, we can't eradicate them.  Sadly, much, if not all,  of the Western economy is based upon them.  Can we make the system more fair?  Make CEO's take lesser rewards, stop bailing them out?  Can we empower our government not to be held hostage by the market?

Maybe.  But the movements I know about that were truly successful were those that were for a specific change - every pro-Democracy movement, the Civil Rights movement, the end Apartheid movement. 

Maybe this is a groundswell, an unplanned uprising (that seems to be very well-planned).  Maybe it will be the spark that ignites other passions and discussion, and eventually, change.

I hope so.  Yet I fear that this is just making angry citizens angrier, people who feel powerless less empowered, and frustrated people more frustrated.  I fear that the protesters look absurd in the face of the enemy they've chosen. 

If Occupy Wall St. achieves only motivating the already disenfranchised, it runs the tremendous risk of souring those who might join in a struggle for true social and economic change.  For the movement to reach a tipping point, it must offer something to those who are complacent, but uneasy.  It cannot alienate its potential base.  What made the Arab Spring so resonant is that the youth rose up to give voice and legs to the unexpressed thoughts and desires of the generations who came before them, and that energy spread to people who would not normally take these kinds of risks - it was their involvement that created something that could not be ignored.

Watching the new PBS documentary Prohibition and listening to the arugments of Carrie Nation and her cohorts actually made me want to go out and get a drink.  The proselytizing, the demonizing, the grandiose presumptions seem absolutely ridiculous 100 years on.  And yet - Prohibition was enacted, much to the detriment of the American people, creating a black market, violent crime, being responsible for the income tax law being passed, and much much more.  Over-zealousness seems to be a hallmark of American activism, and it often has dangerous possible outcomes.

As activists, it is far too easy to forget our gratitude.  Let us remember, that despite its tremendous flaws, we live in a republic, with representation, and recourse.  There are people around the globe today who are risking life and limb to bring this type of government to their country.  Can we apply gratitude to our goals and our processes for change?  Can we be leaders in the next step for those who may win some form of democracy or increased rights in their own countries?

Occupy Yourself is something I have seen floating around on Facebook.  This is an interesting place to begin.  Become seated in yourself, bigger inside yourself, until you are truly ready to engage with others.  If we approach Wall St. as something bigger than us, then we will be small.  It is not bigger than us, it is from us, of us, it is a collective belief made real by the human beings inhabiting this earth.  If we approach it as ants, we will be crushed underfoot, absent-mindedly by those sipping champagne.

There are things here we need to know and learn - chief among them - that there are, and have always been, more of Us than there are of Them.  If we rise up in solidarity, then, yes, we can triumph.  However, there must by nature be more leaders than followers, and the masses are always made up of individuals - very hard to galvanize behind anything but a very specific cause.

If we believe we are the 99%, then we must believe that we are in charge.  If we don''t believe we are in charge, then we must protest mathematics, as some of its axioms are clearly untrue, or we must tussle with ourselves until we grow into this power.  But if we are the 99% then yes we can hire a lobbyist - just by pooling resources - we can hire lawyers to sift through the thousands of pages of legislation that gives corporations loopholes and tax breaks and looks at ways to change the situation.  We have that option.  But if we have that option, we also have so many more - like creating a serious mandate that our elected officials do this work themselves, as it is what they were elected to do.

Yelling about something, as any adolescent with a mother can tell you, is the quickest way to turn off your audience.  What seems largely missing from the American public forum is dialogue. There are great spaces for speechifying, and the mutual masturbation of discourse - alternating monologue.  However, what is absent here is listening.  Our vehement belief - ingrained somehow in all Americans whenever they got there, wherever they came from as if the rocks themselves held these Puritanical beliefs - is that there is one right answer.

Maybe it is our youth as a nation, but we seem so invested in how other people live their lives, and want to make demands that they live as we think is correct.  While we swear by our melting pot status, we also have no interest in anyone else's opinion.  If this movement, such as it is, can inspire true dialogue, then that would be a victory.

As a nation, we need to learn listening, and then deep listening, if we are to progress.  There is, in fact, room for all of us, with our differing backgrounds and lifestyles, if we would only stop trying to legislate each other into one small way of being.  It may even be true that there is enough wealth for all of us, yet, I think we will never know it if we just keep shouting at each other.

I can't help having the sneaking feeling that we are fighting wrong.  That we have chosen wrong methods, lack discipline and vision.  That we are creating friction instead of opening passageways.  Every cliche about fighting fire with fire leaps to mind, as does every quote from Bruce Lee I've ever held close.  Somewhere out there or deep inside, the other 99% exists - proactive, positive, practical - and most importantly, effective in non-violent ways.

I plan to go visit Occupy Wall St.  I'm hoping to be surprised and excited.  I'm hoping it's not just a collective longing for some kind of positive community choosing to demonize another community in order to achieve cohesion. 

This blog post is already too long, and I keep coming up with more to say.  Maybe there'll be a follow-up.  Maybe you'll tell me what you think.  Maybe I'll see you there.

Quote of the Week - Seneca

"I never come back home with the same moral character I went out with; something or other becomes unsettled where I had achieved internal peace; some one or other of the things I had put to flight reappears on the scene."

I love this.  It shows an open and growing approach to life, and an embrace to new cultures and places.  I suppose you could make the argument that you should stay at home and remain undisturbed.  But we know where that leads.