Friday, March 23, 2012

Why I (still) Occupy

...So I wasn't at Liberty on the first day. But I showed up on the 5th day because *they were still there*... it was the first time I could remember where any group that seemed to have anything to do with my politics actually followed through on what they said they would do.

And it had rained the day before and it was miserable weather and I figured they'd have forgotten a change of dry clothes because they were young and stupid and I used to watch over first years and they are young and stupid like puppies. But that's ok, that's normal and if you can just keep them alive they can be glorious.

So I brought dry socks and DayQuil and cereal bars, things that were in my pantry that would keep.

A young man escorted me past the police (there were so many police watching, I felt frightened-- what did the police expect? what did I expect the police to do? was my face going on a list of dangerous terrorists because I was trying to bring dayquil to teenagers?) and people and bedding were scattered everywhere. The place was a lumpy mess.

There was a center of organized activity at the kitchen. It was the kitchen because they said it was, there was no structure or prep space. Some pizza boxes on one stone bench, some refuse in the back of the square that the man in the middle seemed to have claimed.

Before I could hand over anything, he started a mic check. It was my first experience of that. He was pissed off because there was a coat lying in the middle of the invisible kitchen. He mic checked trying to find the owner and pointing out we were supposed to keep an eye on our own stuff. He mic checked we were supposed to keep the kitchen clear.

I despaired. I've participated in enough self-selected communities that I recognized this type. The person who is feeling hard done by and who is about to break... the single ant in an army of grasshoppers. (And often, also unable to share responsibility or ask for help, so they create a crisis they can give up on...) Oh, my peoples, did I despair.

...and then he mic checked one last time, "Sorry for being so pissy." and this laughing, joyous chorus responded, "Sorry for being so pissy!"


The coat's owner was found, he apologized, but... that wasn't the happy ending or the magic moment. I fell in love with Occupy in that moment of mic checked apology. They are only human, and young humans at that. I shudder at how many stupid things I did and said when I was young and righteous (as opposed to old and cranky and righteous now)...

But if, watched by dozens of police and stepped on by suits and laughed at by tourists and damp from weather because the police took away their umbrellas... if they could find the grace to apologize and find laughter in a lost coat... Then I could love them and support them through whatever stupid weather.

They aren't perfect. Neither am I.

I am greatly heartened that we do not need to be perfect to do what we say we will do.

Solidarity, as much as an imperfect human can do.

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