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  • Tonight I occupied the Northern Ireland Bureau. I went there after work to hear a Northern Ireland official describe the difficulties of functioning effectively in a 5-party government carved up along political lines. Of making a difference from within. It was a fascinating discussion. When I mentioned my good friend Linda from across the pond, she knew her well. One of her colleagues at the Bureau said he'd just sent her an e-mail this afternoon. He promised to tell her I said hey.

    In her talk, she conveyed the difficulties of dealing with the frustrations of the politics, while buffering her people from those frustrations, and trying to get anything done in any manner of effectiveness and efficiency. It gave me a much different perspective on our political difficulties, in a "simple" 2 party system.

    Compared to "the troubles" of the not too distant past there, life in Northern Ireland sounds like it is infinitely better today than it was then, despite the political difficulties of conducting an effective government. The emotion she conveyed when she talked about the first time she saw bitter political enemies sitting beside each other really struck me. She talked about the incredible work that George Mitchell did over there to help them work their differences out.

    She talked about the patience it takes to continue to deal with the current political frustrations, because they're just learning how to function as an effective government, and it's going to take time. There is nothing easy about the process. When I asked her how she deals with the frustrations, how she keeps her sights on where they're tyring to go, she talked about the importance of keeping a sense of perspective, and a sense of humor - not taking yourself too seriously.

    Another valuable lesson. Long-lasting change takes time to effect. It doesn't happen overnight. It takes showing up everyday and doing the next thing in front of you. It takes believing in a vision of a better world. It takes doing what you can do as one person, to make things better.

    I completely support what the occupy movement is trying to do. I spent my time protesting what I believed was wrong in the world - the War in Viet Nam, Nixon (in general, and specifically his run for re-election), No-Nukes (after having been trained as a reactor operator), the need to bag my leaves, among many other things I have protested against.

    There is a time and a place for all things, and now I work for change from within. I don't believe in casting a broad brush and just saying "all government is bad". I do believe in identifying specific elements of the government that are broken, and working at fixing them. This is what I do. I've learned how to be effective at this. It's taken a lot of time and patience to reach this point in my journey.

    Somewhere along the line, I learned this. Putting all of my energies into opposing what I am against, is sending my energies in a negative direction. If I am against something, I need to take it to the next level, and figure out what it is I would rather have in its place.

    I put all of my energies into promoting and being about what I am for.

    I am for connecting people with people.

    I am for reaching out across cultural lines, and taking the hand of my fellows in the human race, walking a mile in their moccasins, and being present with them.

    I am for making the world a better place to live in.

    I believe it begins with me.

    Tonight, after a long, busy day at work, I didn't go right home.

    Tonight, I occupied the Northern Ireland Bureau in Washington, DC, and made some new connections,and did my part, did what I could do, to make the world a better place in which to live.

    I got home after 9:00, a long day that began at 6:30 this morning. A very satisfying day. A day in which I feel like I made a difference, and had an impact.
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