Occupy the journey
Emerging in the Occupy Santa Fe movement is a sense of collective victory coupled with a feeling that deep, individual healing is taking place. I believe this may be our opportunity to define new, sustainable ways to live with each other without so many labels and no matter our backgrounds.
Within hours of Occupy Wall Street’s explosion onto Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Livestream, I booked a flight for New York, keeping the promise I made to myself.
What was that promise? As the Arab Spring unfolded in early 2011, followed by the uprisings in Europe, I knew in my soul that it was only a matter of time before discontent swept the globe. The consciousness of humanity was shifting before my eyes, so I vowed that when it hit our shores, I would be in the thick of it.
The inner journey has been central to my life for 25 years, which has included a rich, open spiritual inquiry. Caught in the wave of arrests during OWS’s first big march through the crowded streets of Manhattan, I realized, sitting in a paddy wagon with a dozen strangers, that my entire inner journey had brought me to this particular moment in time, where my “boots on the ground” would be required to effect change alongside millions of others.
After being intensely involved with the movement 24/7 for a couple of weeks, I returned home in October to a chilly Santa Fe without a voice, sick and exhausted.
When I spotted protestors in front of Bank of America the following day, I rushed out to lend support, albeit compromised, grateful to see action in our relatively quiet town. From there, I was compelled to remain involved in Occupy. Little did I know what would transpire as people from all sorts of cultures and histories converged on Occupy Santa Fe like moths to flame.
A sense of collective victory and healing
We didn’t even know each other’s names, yet we pulled together to begin having general assemblies, the decision-making body for each arm of the movement to exercise participatory democracy in identifying local, national and global issues along with substantive solutions.
These gatherings, however, are where the stories, backgrounds, social separation, elitist perspectives, economic disparities and cultural repressions all began to unravel. There has been childish rankling, deliberate disruptions or direct threats flying high with numerous theories of conspiracy, many launched at those perceived to be organizers. We’ve been entertained by one circus act after another.
But, as the dust clouds settle, we’ve managed to survive these oft-messy clashes to bring awareness to relentless foreclosures, demand people before corporate profits, move $4.6 billion from big banks to credit unions for Bank Transfer Day, shine truth on Walmart’s employment practices and interrupt an environmental board hearing attempting to undo carbon emissions regulations for PNM in New Mexico.
Emerging is a sense of collective victory coupled with a feeling that deep, individual healing is taking place.
A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity
I used to frequently ask myself, “Is Occupy worth all this upheaval?” The answer always returns a resounding, “Yes!” We’re charting completely new territory and there’s no definitive shoreline ahead. I just keep showing up because of the promise I made to honor those on the other side of the world who continue to face bullets for the better changes they seek. Here, I recognize the vast variety of beautiful friends who give up so much every day to weave together a stronger, vibrant and more inclusive humanity.
While no one can yet know where Occupy is going in the midst of global unrest, I do believe this may be our opportunity to define new, sustainable ways to live with each other without so many labels and no matter our backgrounds. The sweeping change this movement offers up to all of us comes along only once in a lifetime, and I don’t want to miss a single minute of it.
Mark Jacobs spends much of his time in the trenches with Occupy Santa Fe. He is also a freelance business manager for small businesses in Santa Fe as well as the executive director for Many Paths World Service, a nonprofit he co-founded in 2009. Mark is also active as a published author, public speaker and teacher. He has appeared on numerous radio and cable talk shows and is committed to sharing his passion for a more harmonious world.
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