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  • how i became occupied.

    thoughts from a conversation with a dear comrade stacy lanyon.

    It was a bunch of different things that drew me to Occupy Wall Street. It just seems that my life had lead up to Occupy, and all the things I was doing in my life already were things that Occupy was using to engage the political system, so it was just a natural fit. I worked in the profit world and the non-profit world, and I recently left the non-profit world. I had seen how the 1% structures really don’t get much done within the non-profit world, so I stepped out of it in order to see what I could do on my own, and I was literally at the end of my rope when Occupy happened. I had almost exhausted my unemployment. I had gotten a couple clients in social media, but things just really didn't make sense to me. Once I came to Occupy Wall Street, it turned everything upside down, and everything sort of came into clarity for me.

    For me, the reason why I continue to engage and continue to do this is that I see that it’s not about making large, drastic changes in your life. It’s about making small ones that you do every day, so for me, coming back into the community every day is a way for me to remind myself that that’s how this Occupy model works. It’s about direct engagement. You can’t change the world overnight. It seems historical, these big dramatic changes really don’t lead to anything. The real problem is the way people think and the way people perceive things. Changing that conversation and working on that level of culture is a much longer game. Looking for a quick political fix is not what Occupy is about. That’s why I come back. At the core of our movement, it’s about those small, little changes. We've all been doing these ecological choices like paper versus plastic, but those individual choices have gotten us nowhere. I know I've felt frustrated in my life. I recycle. I donate to non-profits, but it doesn't seem to be changing things, and Occupy seems to give us the opportunity to do these small changes in community and learn what the new ones are.

    I think that’s the biggest thing that we need to explain to people that the better world is already here. There’s a great quote by William Gibson. He’s a science fiction writer. His famous quote is, “The future is here. It’s just not evenly distributed.” The new world that’s possible is here. It’s just not evenly distributed. Right now, it’s in the hands of 1% leftists and new agers and all these intentional communities that have stepped out of our culture to build parallel things. Occupy is so many things, but at its core, it’s super simple.

    The thing that Occupy really does for me, it really opens my eyes to the way the world really is. The biggest thing I learned as an activist is that I came to Occupy Wall Street to fight scarcity. I thought 1%ers were hoarding everything, and there wasn’t enough to go around because the 1%ers were taking it all. The thing is, there’s an illusion of scarcity that all the 1% structures, all capitalism is built on. There has to be a fear of running out within the system for it to work, and in Occupy I’ve seen that there’s an abundance in the world. It’s just a matter of sharing resources properly.

    All issues in Occupy Wall Street and the greater world come down to two things, lack of proper information and lack of distribution of resources. People want a new world possible, and it’s here already. The core occupiers, we’re living that life. We’ve lived outside the system most of our lives anyway, but because we are a leaderless movement and we lead through example, we’re not going to tell you that. Look at our lives for the answers to what our demands are. Look to the people who inspire us within our movement. We’ve been living outside the system for years, and we’re working together to show through example that it can be done. The future that we want is here. It’s just a matter of us grasping it.

    Not to get all Christian here, but there’s a Christian saying by Jesus that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. It’s that same teaching that everything you need is here in the world. You just have to open your heart and mind to it. Its here, and Occupy Wall Street offers a model of engagement that somehow through politics gets you to that spiritual understanding that, “Oh wait, the world doesn't need to change. I need to change.” It’s the Gandhian thing, “Be the change that you want to see.” It’s not that when you change, the world changes around you. You become in line with the way the world really is, and you don’t believe the lies that the 1% tell us, that you have to work a 40 hour a week job to make it or you have to have a car. If you look at the occupiers, we’re all living within our means usually, be it on the street or in apartment shares in Brooklyn, and that’s what the world is about. It’s about making these small changes, so our personal interiors reflect what’s really going on with the way the world works, not the way we want it to work.

    The thing about capitalism is that it’s build on this projection of how things could be better. That’s utopianism. That’s imagining that there’s some Camelot in the past that we can recreate and that there’s this ideal thing that we’re working toward. Satyagraha and the principles of non-violence show us that being present is the answer and that everything we need is here already. It’s just a matter of communicating with each other and sharing the little things that we have. People don’t realize that the biggest things that occupiers have is disposable time. In our culture, time is money, and that’s where our power comes from that we have the time to engage people and make them feel heard. Even if we’re not listening to them, just sitting down and having a conversation makes a change in that moment.

    Occupy Wall Street, through however it’s been created, seems to trick people into being present. In the end, all this media attention for Occupy Wall Street doesn’t really transmit what we are. You have to come down here and talk to someone who’s been down here to really understand that we’re not a bunch of angry anti-capitalists . We’re just Americans who have been radicalized, and when an American is radicalized, we become democracy freaks. We want everybody to have the right. All these government agencies are looking at us going, “Oh my god! What happens to Americans when they are radicalized?" They think we become Jihadists. We become democracy freaks. We look to the American Revolution, and we look to non-violent solutions to do subtle changes.
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