American Autumn

 I got back from my visit to the occupations in NYC and DC 2 days ago. The view from the trenches leaves me feeling humbled and invigorated. Here’s why. The people involved in the occupations that I witnessed, worked with, and supported are:

  • Moving beyond denial and despair and have stepped up to assume a leadership role in creating a more just, peaceful, and sustainable world (they are not leaderless, they are leader-full)
  • Feeding and caring for each other, welcoming the homeless and the most disadvantaged among us, making music and art, and creating community
  • Claiming public space where issues can be discussed. They understand the urgency, and as young people (predominantly) they have the most to lose if things don’t change radically
  • The visible face of a huge consensus that corporate domination of our lives and social systems has got to give way if we are to survive and thrive
  • Politically savvy and using technology very effectively
  • Modeling and foreshadowing important aspects of what the post-industrial world could look like: consensus decision-making, community-based direct democracy, nonviolence, tolerance, compassion, creativity, ecological values and practices
  • Aware that we are fundamentally not separate from each other as people, and not separate from other species and from nature.
  • I’m humbled by this moment in history as people the world over are rising up in common cause to lay claim to a better future. I’m humbled by the absolute unknowability of what will happen next, what will come of this star burst of activism. I’m humbled and inspired by the strength and commitment, the resilience and love I saw demonstrated again and again with each new day. I’m humbled and inspired by a new appreciation for the diversity of tactics being employed and the realization that getting out of the mess we are in will require me and many others to get out of our comfort zones and put our muscle behind it. It won’t always look peaceful and contained and be just how I’d like it – and that’s just how it’s meant to be.
  • I’m humbled and inspired by the response my teach-ins on restorative activism received. Through six teach-ins at 3 different occupations I reached 60 people. The message that the belief in separateness is the fundamental root cause; that we’re in a marathon and not a sprint; and that the restorative practices of mindfulness, nature-based practices, and relationship skills cultivate our ability to serve others and the world -- making our activism itself restorative practice -- all seemed to resonate with the vast majority of participants. I’m also humbled by how these practices supported me on the journey: How good it felt to bring meditation into Freedom Plaza, how the glimpse of a sole monarch butterfly in the urban environment of Washington DC lifted my spirits and connected me to the whole world, how remembering my intention to prioritize relationships and take 100% personal responsibility helped me in challenging interpersonal situations, and how activism as service wove a web that connected every aspect of the trip.

The occupations may be crushed with state violence but the lid will not go back on the kettle. And this move toward action and resistance comes not a moment too soon. I encourage everyone to contribute and engage politically in the “American Autumn” -- offering the gifts that are uniquely yours. As I say in the workshops and teach-ins: Because we aren’t separate from the injustice around us, we are called to play our own unique role in creating a more just, peaceful, and sustainable world. Arising from a deep sense of purpose and meaning, activism becomes a joyous and liberating aspect of our lives, not separate at all from the everyday and a necessary expression of our freedom, empowerment, and maturity. Does this feel true for you? How does it manifest in you?  As always, I welcome your feedback and questions. In peace, 

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