Occupy Parenting and We Occupy the World

October 19, 2011

As a parent and as a person in the world I’m very excited about the Occupy Wall Street (and Boston, Chicago, LA, London, Paris, etc.) phenomenon precisely because it has no clear agenda.  It is the perfect foil and counterpoint to the double-speak and confusion that has wrecked our collective global culture and left it ripe for transformation.

Of course many will swoop in to try and brand, co-opt, and “lead,” this zeitgeist of occupying, however, the brilliance of the “movement” is that instead of theory-driven, charismatic leadership, it is self-organizing and organically arising.

While the flower-powered protests in the 60’s ended the Vietnam war, they did not usher in the Age of Aquarius.  Perhaps a new paradigm of “occupying,” of simply existing and mattering is what’s happening here, even if what “it” is ain’t exactly clear.

Occupying is a radical transformation of the old order that is so amorphous, and thus so impossible to effectively oppose, that it does not affect social change, it IS social change.

“Occupying” is, in and of itself, neither good nor bad—it’s more like showing up.  The Germans occupied France during WW II and that was bad if you were French, but exciting if you were German… until that sort of occupying failed.

The toilet is also sometimes “occupied.”  And that’s when business gets done, or else it’s unoccupied and then anyone can use it to create his or her own fundamental new economy (and, arguably, with at least as much intrinsic value as the old economy; but then the gold is always in the poop).  An economy is a market.  Everyone benefits from a fair and thriving market.  It’s a market where we can’t trust the merchants, the products, the measuring scales and the currency that naturally becomes no market at all.

Occupying is consistent with non-action.  In having no clear call to action, we reduce the chance of wrong action.  Occupying is full of promise and, in not being led by individuals, represents a new sort of consciousness emerging between us all—an interconnectivity that cannot be shot down because there is no one to shoot.

What we are collectively sensing in this pre-occupation with occupying is our own formerly clueless collective group (i.e. humanity) awakening to its own power:  the power of the group itself.  If democracy was to be, “One person one vote” (although we’ve yet to see that in action), “occupying” holds the possibility of being, “One person one voice.”  Thus in the vast cacophony and multiplicity of occupying, former lemmings become  wizened and connected cats—and you can’t heard cats.

When we, the conscious and connected group, no longer accept dysfunction, lies and pervasively cruel indifference, then Wall Street and Washington lose power, not by power struggle, not by old-school revolution that leads to the same problems only with different people in charge of those problems, but rather the one percent lose power by virtue of becoming irrelevant—free to prattle on and control their make-believe words and worlds, just like anyone, but like actors in a bad play when the audience has all left the theater—the old theater of the absurd is over.  Change is upon us.  Realizing that it has already happened IS the dawning, and connecting, consciousness.

“Smart” people (meaning SAT smart, not necessarily truly smart) may tend to think of the group as stupid, as needing to be told what to think and what to do (or else mayhem would ensue).  Yet perhaps nature and the zeitgeist or spirit of the group, and spirit of the time, are smarter than individual people; and perhaps the “average” human, the middle of the group, is gentler, more moderate and more pro-socially inclined than the extremes on any side (be it the will to power or the will to fairness, the old way was the view of the few imposed on the many; and while you can’t herd cats, cats do not commit genocide and they don’t rape the earth).

Maybe in the connected middle we find room for a multiplicity of narratives and respect for many points of view and many voices organically woven together in the fabric of what just is.  Perhaps authenticity, compassion and respect for self and others are all that one needs to be a functional part of the group.  You can’t be excluded from the group when the group means everyone.  And, at least when it comes to childcare, poverty and genocide, shouldn’t the group mean every last one of us (from the world banker to the maid that guy used to chase around, before that sort of thing became too clearly and widely seen to be acceptable)?

The seemingly greedy and uncaring might be better understood as being frightened—not wanting others not to have so much as fearing that if they don’t have an awful lot, they simply won’t have enough.  That is why compassion for the empty and neurotic rich is truly important.  Scared people are mean, but loved people are pussy cats.  And you can’t herd pussy cats.  There’s no need to herd anyone.  Better everyone felt heard.  Particularly children and those who have spoken the most quietly (and I admit that is not me, but I too need to be quieter, calmer, less wordy—but I’m working on it).

When we occupy our lives in the respectful presence of each other, we stop projecting and we stop hating.  This brings calm, and when calm, we can think both effectively and compassionately—from this place of soft safety (where no one is left out or left behind) the group will naturally form cooperative relationships and strategies by which life can be truly lived, goods and services exchanged in a more trusting and trustworthy world market (which is a robust and vigorous market with plenty of folks ready to participate when they no longer think the game is fixed), and vacations can be had and enjoyed rather than dreamed of and then suffered through.

This occupying thing is a zeitgeist movement because you’re as likely to find a conservative as a liberal amongst the vast swath of folks who did not win in our fool’s collective game of Monopoly, a game in which it should be clear by now that almost everyone loses—and those who “win” get to keep Boardwalk and Park Place, but nothing else (no love, no assurance of anyone left and willing to play with, no love from the losers).

When the spirit of Mr. Bossy Pants takes a holiday, like a kite-flying banker in Mary Poppins (that’s my vote—bankers showing compassionate solidarity through collective kite-flying) then the spirit of the Great Mother has done her work and it’s a jolly holiday for all of us.

Occupying means showing up, being present, existing.  Thus we are already occupying everything from Wall Street to Main Street to parenting itself.

So, let’s realize that we already occupy our parenting, our loving and our living.  Because we’re parents and we have kids to deal with most of us are not going to be camping out in the park.  But that is not the only sort of “occupying.”   We are occupying our lives and our “be here now” consciousness at this living moment. Done with futile againstness, we are for each other, for our kids and for each other’s kids.  We are for fairness, transparency, honesty and kindness.

We all love our kids.  We don’t parent in lock-step with each other.  We don’t, as a group, believe that there is only one right way to parent.  Thus we can respect each other and tolerate multiple diverse narratives and philosophies of parenting.  In this way we become free of the dogmatic.  We’re cats I tell you—and you can’t herd cats.

There is no call to action—only to compassion.

Together we occupy our parenting.  So let’s notice that we already sit there beside our kids as they eat, and play, and do homework.  With or without a home we occupy our lives—lives that are too multitudinous to be counted, too valuable to be monetized, too precious to be denied or disregarded, too beautiful to be missed, too lovely not to be shared, and too lonely without each other.  The new cats are not independent, they are inter-dependent.

Even cats turn out to be social creatures.

Perhaps occupying is our declaration of inter-dependence.

Maybe the moment we’ve all been waiting to occupy is eternally upon us.  Maybe it’s our own linking and dawning consciousness that marks the significant change.

Occupy our Love.

Occupy our parenting.

Occupy our collective Namaste.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristen @ Motherese October 19, 2011 at 7:07 am

To be honest, I’m not a big fan of cats, though you’ve started to sell me on their virtues here.

I am a fan of the wisdom of Lewis Carroll, though. To wit:

“Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don’t much care where.
The Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.
Alice: …so long as I get somewhere.
The Cat: Oh, you’re sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.”

Here’s to occupying our walking, with no particular destination in mind except maybe love for all creatures great and small (including the large cats that just escaped from an exotic animal farm about an hour from here and are now roaming the wilds of central Ohio).

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Mark October 19, 2011 at 7:31 am

My Cheshire Cat, Archie is occupying my lap right now as I read this. He is purring as I scratch his ears. Scratching his back or rubbing his belly works, too. Archie is a big fan of the occupy movement.

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TheKitchenWitch October 20, 2011 at 3:30 am

The Occupy Movement…interesting. I love cats, although I pity the poor shepherd who has to keep the herd in line.

ps: I’d love to see a gaggle of bankers flying kites.

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Laura October 20, 2011 at 5:18 pm

You’ve really said it: “When we occupy our lives in the respectful presence of each other, we stop projecting and we stop hating. This brings calm, and when calm, we can think both effectively and compassionately.”

A more peaceful world has so much to do with owning our own shadows and responding to one another with compassion. Those are basic principles of nonviolence. Sometimes those principles call us to step away from non-action (which, as you note, has a place) and activate another vital principle of nonviolence: de-escalation. The more we know about how to use this, the more compassion we’re able to activate on behalf of others. Here’s some info:
http://lauragraceweldon.com/2011/10/13/get-involved-when-its-none-of-your-business/

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Pamela October 20, 2011 at 5:23 pm

Thank you for this! I am a big fan of the Occupy movement and love what Seane Corn said: I am not about 1% or 2% but about 100% for everyone.

Now I know why I love it so much. Occupy= Be Here Now. xoxo

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Wolf Pascoe October 24, 2011 at 8:26 am

So much to say about the Occupy movement’s wonderful experiment with radical democracy and its simple assertion of Old Power’s irrelevance to the transformation already upon us.

“The wise man rightly reminds us to drink the water from our own well, so that we are not forced to search for it somewhere else but rather give it from our own source to others.” — Erasmus.

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Miguel January 25, 2012 at 2:02 pm

Occupy is great, except for you know… the murders, rapes, drug overdoses, etc. Sheesh. Someone is not paying attention.

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Bruce January 25, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Hi Miguel,

I hear you—and wonder how we can get to the truly great stuff about fairness and compassion and not confabulate this with the lower instincts which may unite the worst of Wall Street with the worst of the just plain street. I do try to pay attention, but I’m totally open to insights.

Do we even need a better world? And if so, how do we get there?

Here’s to keeping it real and finding a better way together. I honestly appreciate this comment.

All Good Wishes, BD

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