How Do You Choose To Occupy This World?
I have read numerous well-written, thoughtful, educational, and inspiring articles about the Occupy movement in this country by Occupiers and those who identify with the 99% movement. Some of these people are well-known and highly respected academics and award-winning writers, and many are highly knowledgeable and intelligent young people who do not want the future that the corporate-controlled rulers of this world have laid out for them. I have also read quite a few diatribes against the Occupy movement, accusing it of being nothing but an unorganized group of washed-out hippies, the homeless, and rebellious young people who don’t even know what they want. And I have met several people who still don’t know much at all about the Occupy movement (and could care less), because they are so wrapped up in just getting by in their own struggles to have a life. What I do know is the Occupy movement is a fast-moving “happening,” in spite of the attempts to diminish its importance by the corporate-controlled mainstream media and the corporately-directed political strategists who use the police to do their dirty work.
I live in a state that has been nationally ranked as one of the top five states who have the most number of poor people living in them (per capita). I live in a county that is counted as one of the three poorest counties in the state. So, when I come across the more financially privileged and politically conservative people in my neck of the woods (actually desert) who deride me and my associates for counting ourselves as part of the 99%, I scratch my head in puzzlement and frustration at what I consider ignorance and an unwillingness to really look at all of the facts and truth of the state of our nation and world, and here in Arizona, the state of our fellow Arizonians—many who happen to be red (Native American) and brown (Hispanic) and suspect of being “illegal” and “alien.”
I grew up on Native American reservations in a very “middle” middle-class family who, more than fifty years ago, recycled everything we could, conserved in our energy and water usage, and spent money carefully and conservatively. We lived a life of considerate compassion and respect for all human beings and had a scientific and spiritual appreciation for the web of life on our planet. (My father was a soil conservationist, a spiritual man, and loved the natural world.) We did not buy new cars and kept the used ones for at least 10 years, even up to 20 years, because my father maintained them so carefully. Like my parents before me, I still purchase most of my clothing, furniture, and other household items in thrift stores and resale shops. I, as well as most of my family, friends, and close associates, have never come near being one of those crazed shopping-spree enthusiasts who trample people to get into a store to buy the latest item that is faddish on the much-promoted “black Friday” shopping day after Thanksgiving. So, according to the constant jangle from most economists, I guess we are not doing our part in helping the economy recover.
I was blessed to grow up without a television and have continued to resist being brain-stained and tantalized into personally identifying with corporate brand names, labels, and logos that are crammed down our throats through invasive, mass advertising that comes at us from all directions through multiple-media formats. Even while we are pumping gasoline at a gas station we are subjected to inane chatter trying to sell us something from a small video box sitting on top of the damn gasoline pump! It seems that most of us have to tramp back into a designated wilderness area to get away from corporate occupation of our lives.
Many of my childhood friends didn’t even have running water or electricity in their one- or two-room homes that housed large families, let alone other commodities that most of us in this country today take for granted. In that setting, I guess my family and I were the 1%, but unlike the nation’s 1% referred to in the Occupy Wall Street and 99% movements, my family and I were not taking anything away from our neighbors and friends or living beyond our means at the expense of the majority of our fellow planetary citizens and neighbors. We were where we were to share our knowledge and lives with our friends and neighbors who lived below the poverty level of the times, in order to assist them to become part of the middle class—in their housing, healthcare, education, economics, and lifestyles.
Unfortunately, more than fifty years later, not much has really changed for Native Americans when it comes to quality and dignity of life. Though some have more money and material things, the quality of their education and healthcare has not improved much, and neither has the quality of their psychospiritual well-being. But neither has the quality of most American’s psychospiritual well-being improved in the last fifty years, regardless of race or economic status. And why is that? Because of the increasing acceptance of toxic materialism as a way of life—a materialism that values money and power over human beings and our life-giving natural world. Unfortunately, now, the gains in education and healthcare that Americans had acquired in the last fifty years are also being taken away.
As those of us involved in the Occupy movement realize, we live in a world that is ruled by corporations who control political policies, practices, and laws and in an economic system that is dependent upon all of us—who are poor or of the presently-dwindling middle-class or even of the more economically privileged group—to spend as much money as we can, living way beyond our financial means, which is one of the factors that has contributed to the plummet into this terrible economic recession.
All of us Americans have been occupied by the corporate rhetoric that brain-stains us to buy, buy, buy—whether we need it or not, and without consideration of the cost to other human beings, other cultures, and the natural world that sustains all of our lives. We are intoxicated by the constant barrage of propaganda that comes at us through corporate-controlled media to grab a bigger piece of the pie, use our talents and knowledge for getting more money, prestige, and power. We are constantly being coerced to be selfish, fearful, grasping citizens in order to serve the current economy and the less-than-one percent that is the machine running the materialistic world. We are considered failures and become social outcasts of the mainstream if we choose another value-system, one that rejects getting more than we need and questions those who continue to feed the machine that is methodically destroying our beautiful natural world, our diverse cultures, decent values, ethical practices, and the well-being of us humans.
I live in a spiritually-based EcoVillage with about one hundred others who have occupied part of the borderlands in Southern Arizona. We have chosen a simpler life that challenges anything and anyone that damages the human soul and psyche, diminishes the higher ideals of a truly sustainable culture and society, and destroys the delicate yet sustaining web of life that makes up the natural world. We have chosen to occupy this planet in a manner that celebrates life, living daily in a manner that constantly strives for a more compassionate, scientific, and spiritualized perspective and lifestyle. We are religionists, environmentalists, educators, organic gardeners and farmers, artists, musicians, writers, parents, healthcare providers, and so on. And we piss comfortable people off, because we have occupied their comfort zones of complacency and greedy grabbing.
We are part of the Occupy movement in our daily thinking, doing, and being. We join hundreds of thousands of others in this country and millions across the planet who demand a more sustainable and decent life for all human beings and for all of life. Our EcoVillage and organic gardens, farm, and ranch are a functioning sustainable model that serves as a prototype and proof that a few good people working in harmony together and for the common good of all can make a real difference in changing the tides of greed, in any pocket of the world. We, like all Occupiers, do this through our talking, our writings, our public events, our educating, our music, our art, and, most importantly, through our own personal changes in consciousness and lifestyle.
Regardless of nationality, political creed, racial identity, economical status, religious (or otherwise) affiliation, or ideology, all of us Occupiers across the planet need to continue holding the dream of a much better life for all, and, even more importantly, to actually stand up for and actualize that dream daily in our own personal lives and the lives of our neighbors, as part of a huge planetary movement, a Spiritualution that is unfolding every day.