Tuesday, December 13, 2011


The Buddha Diaries has not made a practice of posting entries by guest writers--not because I would not welcome them but rather because, when I have solicited other voices, they have not chosen to make themselves heard. So today is unusual. My post is a piece by a young friend, Azalia Snail. I know her as an accomplished musician and a friend of my daughter, and I was happy to receive her offer of a piece about her experience with Occupy LA. As a 99 percent-er, I support the goals of this much needed expression of popular outrage against a system of politics, government and finance that is by now indisputably rigged against the vast majority of Americans. My excuses for not being out on the streets myself are pretty poor ones; so I'm glad that Azalia stepped up, and that she is here to report on her experience.


When I first heard about a bunch of people flocking to a park in downtown Manhattan, hoisting up tents and waving signs with messages protesting the bankers and the corporate elite, I thought, "bloody damn time already." Somebody had to (finally) rise to the auspicious occasion and demand that the bankers take responsibility for the monetary (or lack thereof) mess that we're in. A few days later, I got an e-mail from Sarah, one of my very best pals (and on that day of October 1, 2011, 8 months pregnant) that she and her partner Ed were going to City Hall for Day 1 of our very own Occupy L.A.! Hooray! I could easily ride my electric scooter downtown and meet them there. It was a beautiful day, the lawn was filled with eager citizens, some de riguer protest types, and some fresh young ones, many with handmade signs and devoted agendas. I had heard that Los Angeles was going to arrange for their own Occupy, but I didn't yet have the details, until that fateful e-mail from Sarah. I came with digital camera and photographed the proceedings on the grounds of City Hall, which would come to be known as Solidarity Park and the OccupyLA encampment.

I was thinking: why occupy? I researched as much as I could about the occupy movement over the next few weeks.

So here's some paragraphs that I copied and pasted from a few sources, added my own thoughts, and edited down to an easy-to-digest read.

"The idea of taking a square to try and do a replica of the society you would like to see."

"We need to get back to what America was, and what it should be, and what it can be. Occupy Wall Street is no longer just a place called Zuccotti Park --- Zuccotti Park is everywhere. You can try to pen us in, you can beat us and arrest us, you can mace and tear-gas us , and you can try to "permit" us to death....but you can't kill an idea. You can't keep down people’s hopes and dreams for a better life.....a life with dignity and freedom....for us... and for future generations."

More power to Occupy Wall Street, as it spreads to every town and city - because OWS is us, and for us, and by us. It comes up from the grassroots, and it lifts us up in turn. With OWS, America has found its voice, and that voice demands fairness and justice. This land IS our land! And we want it back! We want our lives back! We want our future back! ....So why not find a quiet place and consider this: We only have one brief life...one chance...and many choices. It’s time to choose, and to act. If not now, then when? If not you, then.....

"We want to set off seven days and nights of unpredictable, creative mayhem in hundreds of cities around the world," an early Adbusters "Tactical Briefing" email quixotically declared. "We want to catalyze a global flash point -- a sudden, unexpected moment of truth -- the birth of a 'slow' revolution that, over the next few years, will radically alter the way the world is run." The event was said to feature "everything from holding mass hummings in shopping centres/commercial areas to standing naked in front of our oppressors in banks carrying signs that say 'What more will you take from us now?'"

One such event was the reality of the Arab Spring, which has shown the world an example of people power not seen in ages. But still more importantly, in my mind, is the fact that Adbusters's call to action intersected with other forces. Occupy Wall Street was, in fact, preceded by "Bloombergville," a similar camp out of activists, mainly young people, who decided to sleep in lower Manhattan in July to protest the escalating budget cuts in New York City. With limited exceptions, the media didn't even bother to show up to be snide about Bloombergville -- but New Yorkers Against the Budget Cuts, which helped organize Bloombergville, was early to take up the Occupy Wall Street initiative and give it some foot soldiers.

Back to our L.A. Story: Of course the cops came and took the camp down, mercilessly, strategically, after having dissected the situation with their own undercover cops posing as Occupiers, per instructions from their supervisors and ultimately, the Mayor. They claimed it was a "peaceful" bringdown. I've heard directly from some of the arrestees that it was not. The media was permitted only on the sidelines, so they didn't see the terrible treatment the arrestees faced on the busses and in their jail cells. I watched it go down on the night of eviction. It was menacing to witness the congregation of 1400 cops coming at them from all sides, including suddenly bursting out from inside City Hall.

We need the Occupy movement desperately. How else to combat the steadily growing downfall of our economic system? The overwhelmingly negative slate of political affairs? Corporate greed and corruption? How about the NDAA bill, one of the worst measures we have been faced with in our lifetimes? A bill that could sacrifice our very freedoms, which we take for granted as that thin fabric becomes ever so transparent.


I'm astounded by the apathy of most of my peers and acquaitances. I've posted several times on Facebook about the National Defense Act and what it could mean to our future. Only about 3 people commented, out of over 1300 "friends." This is a very drastic measure that virtually would take away the principles of American freedom. It's a sham and a shame.

I only feel sorry for
those who unfairly criticize the Occupy movement . For they are the stallers and the mockers and the ignorant, and we could all be damned. But I will prevail in my commitment to show them what they are missing. And maybe there still is a reflection of hope in the drowning lake of que sera, sera.

Oh yeah, I once posted on a NYC wall a sort of "art piece" with the following blown-up words: "Each and every day they are killing me. But I'm not dead yet." That, in a nutshell, is how I feel about the importance of the Occupy movement.


Deb said...

While the confrontations between police and Occupy protestors haven't been as violent in Canada, the Occupy movement has been portrayed in the media from the beginning as a bunch of homeless, unemployed, drug-addled slackers with nothing better to do than envy others' hard-earned success. While we didn't have the sub-prime mortgage debacle, the Canadian government quietly and without public discussion, bought $65 Billion worth of mortgage liabilities from Canadian banks. Suddenly we went from a $1 B deficit to a month later a $66 B deficit and the need for radical cutbacks in social programs. Meanwhile last quarter the big banks reported $10-16 B profit. One QUARTER's profits. The gap between rich and poor is growing faster in Canada than in the US. At some point people will wake up and realize we'll soon be "occupying" the streets whether we want to or not.

Karin E. said...

I am glad to see our young people interested in participating and I am hoping this will inspire them to become truly involved. My generation who went south to register the vote, and some of us were murdered, and some of us went on the freedom rides, we were first inspired by Jack Kennedy, all the assasinations and especially Dr.King. I lived through the Berkeley riots and the Oakland police. Standing up for freedom is not a party, it is a very serious business and one is prepared for all that comes. If one cannot be prepared for sacrifice of any kind, then stay home. Freedom is never in the Key of C. Go in, write about direct experience, document it, and do not hyperbolize or speculate. As for the future of this country, in
10 years we will wonder, what was all that about. Keep on keeping on because its all very good stuff! Life is change. Be proactive with compassion vs staying at safe distances. Go out and make a difference. Go out and make a difference in the life of a child, help an impoverished family, give your time, roll up your sleeves,
one step at a time. commit to we shall overcome, and commit to the repair and the healing of the world.