- About Us
- What We Offer
- Podcasts & Video
The Occupy Movement: Radical Intimacy and Bountiful Economics
Submitted by Meredith Arena on Thu, 11/17/2011, 4:44pm
"...the root meaning of the word radical is just that...the root or origin of something. To be radical is therefore to go to the root of something. Radical is a method or approach to "knowing"...going beyond surface manifestations and "digging" to the core or stem."
Here are two quotes that I have heard in reference to the Occupy Movement:
“Cultivating intimacy that is arising out of difference”
“Bounty comes when things are in balance”
The first was said by Michael Stone, in this video and the second was said to me by Ethan as we processed a talk he gave called Dharma in Action, in which he discussed how and why Buddhism can and should be an active, socially engaged practice.
The idea of “Cultivating intimacy that is arising out of difference ” is beautiful and challenging. What it means to me is that people are learning to be together, which is a radical idea.
Last night I was discussing the Occupy Seattle camp with a friend of mine who has a 2 year old son. They walk through the camp, now at Seattle Central University, every day. We discussed how she can describe to him what he is seeing. The best idea we came up with was that the encampment was a different kind of family. It is a place where people learn to live together. These little things we say to our children are so important to how they will perceive the world around them. Our bravery and willingness to allow them to look and experience curiosity is one way this world can change.
So do we have to live at Occupy to “cultivate intimacy out of difference”? No, cultivating intimacy, especially when it is challenging, can happen anywhere as long as we are willing to look at our minds when our instinct is to retract and at that moment, do the opposite STAY OPEN. Withhold jugement for a moment. Ask yourself "what am I expereinceing?" You can do this in a political discussion or an argument with a loved one.
I do think that being at an Occupy event or camp sometimes can be helpful for practice, especially if you do not see yourself as a political person or if, you are not sure you will be accepted, not clear whether you fit in or don’t want to fit in because you do not see yourself represented there. If you want to see yourself represented, then represent. Being with people doesn’t have to mean seeing yourself reflected in them. So if you have been putting it off, go support your local Occupy by being a witness there. And if you have been there every night for two weeks straight and your eyes sting from being pepper-sprayed or you heart is tired from hoping or your brain from communicating, then maybe try meditating or going home for a night and being with your family or loved ones. Cultivate intimacy with yourself.
Buddhist practice is about doing what is challenging over and over again both with our thought patterns and our actions. We become familiar with how we are challenged instead of going to war with what we want to change. The consistent dialogue about process that is taking place in this movement and resulting from it are forms of working with the mind. The intimacy we create when we, the diverse citizens of this country, are deciding what we want it to look like.
“Bounty comes when things are in balance” not when something grows and grows unchecked. There is no real reason to continue to accumulate wealth after one is comfortable. There is no real reason for our economy to continue to expand with no checks or balances. The natural world regulates itself with death, erosion and interdependence. Humans (ideally) regulate their bodies by not eating until we explode. When we vote or when we strive, are we striving for an abstract quantity of money that we don’t even know what to do with? Or are we striving to meet our basic needs and be happy, to send our children to college, to pay our college loans, to put wholesome food on the table, to self-actualize, to pay mortgages, car payments medical bills?
Why shouldn’t our economy exist so that we can all be happy?
Is there something weird about that?
Vote for this article to appear in the Recommended list.