Saturday, November 12, 2011

What Spirit Stick tells me when Occupy Philly refuses to do what I KNOW is the The Right Thing.

Jacob, Jacob… there’s no magic way to transform an idea into reality. No matter how passionately you believe in it--it takes work. Working with people, and working with people takes time, and just because things don't change in a brilliant flash doesn't mean nothing is happening, or that no else is working for what is right.

If you have good ideas and your vision of what we need is reasonable, and no else is convinced—ask yourself, are you as wise and reasonable in your understanding of human relationships and what it takes to bring about change in a complex social and interpersonal network?

Nothing happens by proclaiming it from on high, or lecturing others, or insisting on your own way. Not by any single voice, or by a dedicated group does change happen. It takes work, and more work and more work still--talking to people, educating, reasoning, listening... that part too. Listening. Don’t ever forget—listening! When a person senses they're being listened to, they can feel safe to begin taking small step out of their sealed world, begin to change their ideas, their behavior, shed the fixations--the illusions ALL of us carry around and believe to be the real world.

You may speak eloquently for a cause you know and understand by experience. Others have different experiences; center their ideas of what we need in different places. We only learn to understand and take up the cause of others as we come to trust that others are trying to understand and care for us. Say that now the other way around. Others will learn to understand your deepest concerns and take up your cause, only as they come to believe that you are there for them, taking their back, standing up for them.

You are not a marcher facing Bull Conner on the bridge in Selma--people here do care, want to understand, want to make this a place for all... ask yourself, do you? Really? Or are you, without meaning to, trying to force your ideas the way the powerful in the world we are here to change force those weaker than themselves to do their will? Others can take up your cause as you in turn take up theirs. That's how it works. And as mutuality grows, so too understanding and action--the work we all must do for one another to make our fine models of a better world actually happen.

The absence of trust is a sign--either that others really don't care, don't want to help, don't want to make room for the marginalized and excluded—for your cause--in which case, making demands is useless... or of an inability or unwillingness to engage others as partners, not as antagonists thwarting our own needs and wishes.

Never forget, we’re engaged in a great experiment, and experiments arrive at success through many failures. The experiment begins with you, with unlearning the ways of the world of power and learning how to work and learn from others, to find together our common need, our common goal.

Peace and Solidarity,
Sprit Stick


  1. Jacob (or Spirit Stick?),

    Although not 100% sure we're talking about the same thing, I resonate with your words. I really saw no reason to provoke a confrontation with the city over Dilworth Plaza, but am trying to look at last night's GA vote as a learning opportunity for myself. Thanks for expressing it.


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  3. I don't think there would be any less likelihood of confrontation with any decision made, unless it was simply to concede we'd do whatever the city asked. This cause we know some would stay no matter what, and unless OPh raises its own police to force them out (or worse, declaring those who stay outside the movement and refusing to support them in trade for the hope the city would 'let us' move to Thomas Paine), we aren't likely to get a permit for Thomas Paine while tents remain on Dillworth Plaza.

    My early choice would have been a move to Thomas Paine--mostly for logistical reasons: the opportunity to plan locations, availability of water, convenient to Friend's Center. But I couldn't see how this was going to be possible without splitting the actual (physical) Occupation, making us far more vulnerable, creating insurmountable problems for our medical & safty support (already stretched too thin). Though I didn't vote, being on the facilitation team--if I had, my vote would have changed from earlier in the week. Either way, I was always ready to accept the wisdom of the collective, whether or not I was in complete agreement with it.