Where do I belong in Occupy?
At risk of losing all anonymity, I’ll out myself as a resident of Portland, Oregon. As a family, we’ve gone down to our occupy movement several times including bringing food and attending general assemblies with my preschooler. My turning-4-year-old and I pass it every weekday on the bus. During the first march, 3 vehicles of riot police passed within 8 feet of us as we transferred buses – several of the officers waving to the boy who was awed at the sight. (Scary but a new kind of emergency vehicle… cool!) We’ve had many conversations about protests as people saying to the government that ‘this bugs us, we wish you would do something different’ … the language of non-violent communication for his preschool. It is a movement that I (and my husband) personally support even if the organizational elements of it are fluid and difficult to make heads or tails.
So, last night, I – probably prudently – snuggled my nearly 3rd-trimester pregnant self into my bed with my preschooler down the hall in a comfy house even as I literally prayed – and I left behind petitionary prayers years ago – that I wouldn’t wake up to a blood-bath in the wake of Mayor Adam’s midnight deadline for leaving the parks. Tears literally streamed down my face this morning when I opened my laptop and saw that all were restrained last night. I quickly shot off a thank-you email to Mayor Adams for choosing the non-violent way.
It has escalated again. The parks have been cleared, a couple dozen arrested – peacefully though, and hundreds if not thousands are facing down a police line in a blocked street downtown. Again, I watch from the safety of my home.
5 years ago, when I first came to Portland, I would have been down there with them. But now it is more difficult; life requires different choices. So, how do I show my support? I offer my food on occassion; I email and call local and federal officials to beg for support; I explain to my preschooler – the very reason I cannot spend large amount of time down there during volatile times – why this is such a wonderful, if scary, thing.
Long term, I – we – have to find another way. I teach my university courses, both of which include a module about public conflict and discourse as it applies to communities and movements. My husband embues his college courses with real and varied critiques of the economic system. We continue to learn and share why we live simply, why we strive at some level to live in a radical, urban homestead fashion.
It is the sensible thing to do, the sustainable thing to do, the right thing to do at this life stage. But right now, watching those brave people on that front line trying to peacefully ask for a better way while facing a line of riot geared officers (who, frankly, are the 99% too), those actions seem so very inadequate.