The spiritual warriorship of Occupy Wall Street

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I believe revolutions, when carried out in a particular spirit, can be a numinous act. An act of consciousness and of conscience. An act of sacred warriorship.

I believe that what we are now witnessing, participating in, hoping and praying for with the fast-spreading Occupy Wall Street movement has the potential to become just such a collective act.

One of the best pieces I’ve read on the movement came from Naomi Klein, author of the best-selling The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, in The Nation on October 6. Klein called Occupy Wall Street “the most important thing in the world now” and described the scene she encountered when she was invited to speak there:

Yesterday, one of the speakers at the labor rally said: “We found each other.” That sentiment captures the beauty of what is being created here. A wide-open space (as well as an idea so big it can’t be contained by any space) for all the people who want a better world to find each other. We are so grateful….

Something else this movement is doing right: You have committed yourselves to non-violence. You have refused to give the media the images of broken windows and street fights it craves so desperately. And that tremendous discipline has meant that, again and again, the story has been the disgraceful and unprovoked police brutality. Which we saw more of just last night. Meanwhile, support for this movement grows and grows. More wisdom….

I am talking about changing the underlying values that govern our society. That is hard to fit into a single media-friendly demand, and it’s also hard to figure out how to do it. But it is no less urgent for being difficult.

That is what I see happening in this square. In the way you are feeding each other, keeping each other warm, sharing information freely and providing health care, meditation classes and empowerment training. My favorite sign here says “I care about you.” In a culture that trains people to avoid each other’s gaze, to say, “Let them die,” that is a deeply radical statement.

Klein’s piece, which you can read in full here, is a powerful companion to a new grassroots Tumblr website, We Are the 99 Percent:

Who are we? Well, who are you? If you’re reading this, there’s a 99 percent chance that you’re one of us.

You’re someone who doesn’t know whether there’s going to be enough money to make this month’s rent. You’re someone who gets sick and toughs it out because you’ll never afford the hospital bills. You’re someone who’s trying to move a mountain of debt that never seems to get any smaller no matter how hard you try. You do all the things you’re supposed to do. You buy store brands. You get a second job. You take classes to improve your skills. But it’s not enough. It’s never enough….

We are the 99 percent. We are everyone else. And we will no longer be silent. It’s time the 1 percent got to know us a little better. On Sept. 17, 2011, the 99 percent will converge on Wall Street to let the 1 percent know just how frustrated they are with living in a world made for someone else. Let us know why you’ll be there. Let us know how you are the 99 percent.

I believe that the act of sharing our stories can be numinous. And We Are the 99 Percent presents story in its most basic form: scrawled by the storytellers on notebook paper, posterboard, random sheets and held up for the camera, stark and simple. I don’t know when I’ve seen a more poignant gallery of self-portraits. The selection at the top of this piece represents only a small portion of the 75-plus pages’ worth of self-portraits that have been posted on the website so far. 

Please spend time looking at the faces and stories of your fellow human beings on We Are the 99 Percent. Consider posting your own story. This is the power of reaching across divides, of shining light into the shadows. Doing this will crack open your heart. And a heart broken open is fertile ground for creating change.

This is spiritual warriorship.

All photographs are from the website We Are the 99 Percent. My thanks to Barbara Osborn for turning me onto this website. 

About Diana Rico

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5 Responses to The spiritual warriorship of Occupy Wall Street

  1. pattymara says:

    Thank you Diana. You have expressed my feelings perfectly. Bless you. I will take your inspiring words with me as I participate in Occupy Taos on Friday.

    • Diana Rico says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Patty. I am glad to know others feel the way I do. I’ll be out of town Friday but I will Occupy the plaza with you in spirit. 🙂

      • pattymara says:

        Diana, you are SO welcome! I will carry your spirit with me.
        And, I’ve tried to subscribe (dive in!) but wordpress isn’t letting me confirm the subscription. I’ll keep trying.

  2. Susan Washburn says:

    Well said, Diana. Thank you for putting into words what so many of us feel. Let us hope and pray that a tipping point has been reached.

  3. HI Diana,
    I am encouraged to see a wide range of young people and nationalities in OWS, given the overwhelmingly Caucasian and over 55-60 (and, in some parts of the country, over 260 pounds) demographic of the Tea Party.

    Now, one thing that really ticked me off was when moderate guy and ex-Fed chairman Paul Volcker essentially offered a blueprint – – for bringing sensible, effective regulations back to the “Banks Gone Wild” – and a block of well-bribed senators and representatives (most GOP, some conserva-Dems as well) shot down about 90% of his ideas and watered down the much needed financial reform bill.

    And that, ladies and gentlemen, is just one thing that’s causing people to protest.

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