What if it doesn’t get better?

We aren’t sure if Mama Linda was still breathing by the time the paramedics found her.

What if it doesn’t get better?

I often use this forum to relay my thoughts about industrialized civilization, the environment, farming and the economy.  I care deeply for social issues but rarely postulate about them because of their impassioned and many-leveled significance, because of the multi-faceted issues facing marginalized communities that can often be understated and misread in forums like this.  Recent events however, have compelled me to write the following.  Where economic injustice intersects with social injustice, the gravity and consequences are exponential.

Many people and relationships are suffering as a result of the incredibly detrimental economic, environmental and social policies perpetrated by those in power against those less fortunate.   There are all kinds of people who see the economy crashing down around us, the beginning and devastating effects of climate change and subsequent fall-out from the infinite growth paradigm.  People from all walks of life are suffering.

I’m gay.  In my present place on earth, it’s not something that I remember that often.  My talents are not contingent upon whom I love.

On the farm, the weeds don’t care if I’m gay.  They still grow.  The lady bugs don’t care.  They still eat aphids.  The bees don’t care.  They still pollinate.  When I plant seedlings, their growth isn’t dependant on my relationship with my partner or anyone else.  When I feed the chickens, they don’t care that the sprouted, organic seed is given to them by a young woman who happens to be in a relationship with another young woman.  As it turns out, the circle of life, here on the farm, goes on, independent of my gayness.

The only time that I’m reminded that I’m gay is when I’m volunteering for a community event, when I’m being discriminated against or when someone I love is facing discrimination.

My partner and I fight over whose turn it is to do the dishes, where we go on vacation and what’s for dinner.  We’d fight over the remote if we had a TV.

Until we want to get married or file our taxes under equal rights of the law of the United States of America, we don’t notice that we are different.

I am no longer that strange little girl in my high school choir trying to validate myself to the outside world.  I haven’t had my house TP’d since junior year.  I haven’t had someone screaming in my face that I’m an abomination since the Proposition 8 campaign.  In that way, it has gotten better.

But I am still that person, who cannot marry whom she loves, cannot file taxes as an equal citizen, will not benefit from the property rights of my heterosexual counterparts and I may at any time face discrimination.   I cannot proclaim my love in a public sphere without the haunting potential for an uncomfortable encounter with someone who perceives my existence as less-than or unsavory.

If I am a school teacher, I may be seen as a liability.  If I am a public servant, I may be seen as a liability.  If I am an elected official, I may be seen as a liability.  But I am merely just human.  These perceptions of liability come from an anti-social, discriminatory construct from people who cannot see beauty beyond their own situation.

It hasn’t been easy.  When I first came out, I remember lying awake at night, crying, asking God “why?”  Why did God make me gay?  I had left my husband and best friend.  I had surprised my friends and family, causing an onslaught of confusion, guilt and despair.  Even though many of my friends were understanding and supportive of LGBT rights, the process was bewildering and overwhelming for all involved.  I was luckier than many.  My family accepted me and my friends ultimately came around.  There are many people in my community who cannot share a story of the same blessing.

In coming out, gay people are often rejected by those that they love the most, ostracized by communities that once proclaimed unconditional love, abandoned by many in their trusted social circles, forcing those from an already difficult situation into a place of darkness and rebuilding no one should have to endure.

My being gay is not something that I can change any more than a straight person can choose to love a person of the same gender.  I tried.  I was married to a man, whom I loved very, very much.  But that love was not enough to deny the fact that I am gay.

Many, many gay people have gone through steps to try and deny who they are, to try and deny their existence.  Some have endured the abdominal practice of aversion therapy.  Many of us have tried to acquiesce to society’s standards of relationships and love for the sake of fitting in, for the sake of an easier, “better” life.

What many of us have come to know is that it may be more comfortable to assert ourselves as what we are, even if doing so invites ridicule and distain from certain assemblies.  It may by internally more astute to discontinue denying one’s gayness and to live honestly and with integrity but the decision to do so does not necessarily make life easier or better.

The LGBT community and our allies have released video after video preaching to our young people that “it gets better.”  According to several national, peer-reviewed studies from professional organizations, teen suicide attempts for young gay people are anywhere from 4-7 times more frequent than that of their heterosexual counterparts.  The “it gets better” message is provided to give hope to so many in pain, so many being bullied, feeling alone, feeling afraid or entering a place of desolation from which they may not return.

But, as a gay adult, I have to ask: Does it really get better?

What if you make it out of high school?  What if you face the ultimate gauntlet of human acceptation and make it out alive?  Then what?

Maybe you go to college and join an LGBT organization where you meet others who share your story.  Maybe you get involved locally in your community to work towards equality for all.  Maybe you find a job in a workplace that has a no-discrimination policy.  Maybe you meet your true love.  All of those things, even the possibility of them, should be enough of an incentive for any young person struggling in high school to make it to graduation and see the world of possibility that awaits.

I have a pretty good life.  I love my family.  I have incredible friends.  I love my work.  I have enough food.  I have shelter.  I’m in love with my partner and we have a wonderful relationship.  The things in my life for which I am grateful are too many to count.  I feel truly, truly blessed.

Yet, I cannot deny that my situation is unique.  I also cannot deny that my situation is vulnerable.  There may come a time when I can’t find work or am not able-bodied enough to pursue viable options.  There may come a time when I am hungry or homeless.  There may come a time when I am alone.

Mama Linda is in the hospital tonight.

Mama Linda is like me; She has been gay her whole life.  But unlike me, Mama Linda has lived.  Mama Linda has lived long enough to experience a few things that I haven’t.

Mama Linda lost her lover two years ago.  They shared a love of substance, a meaningful existence, stuff that dreams are made on.

Mama Linda tried to commit suicide 56 hours ago and is on life support.  She is 67 years old.

She is not the target audience of the “it gets better” campaign.  She is not plagued by the incessant teenage jostling of social hierarchy.  She was not suffering through the daily forced interaction with those of differing ideology and outspoken objection to her life here on earth.

She was a stay at home mom to her partner’s adopted son, a son that loved her very much and took care of her.  A son she raised with grilled cheese sandwiches and Cheerios.  A son she raised on country music and American morals.  She had hobbies and a social community.  She loved mysteries and soap operas.  She loved music.  She loved her little fluffy dog.  She had a life.

The kind of discrimination that ignorance presents is age-old.  Its consequence is known.  The persistence and diabolical message that goes along with discrimination has been cautioned against for centuries:

“Two households, both alike in dignity,

In fair Verona where we lay our scene,

From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,

Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.”  Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare.

Events like the passing of Proposition 8 and laws like the “Defense of Marriage Act” make people in the LGBT community love with eminent consequence.  The LGBT community finds love within a realm of such incredible vulnerability that it becomes an almost inevitable tragic prelude. Like Romeo and Juliet, we love without choice and we love without the blessing of our state.  And, sadly, we often love without the blessing of our parents or loved ones.  We love with passion.  And when we do so, we adopt the unnecessary burden of discrimination.

When we live our truth, we do so against the civil dispensation of equal rights.  When our lovers die, they die alone, and those who survive them, do so without the compensation of the privileged accesses that other loved ones have: the ability to leave their assets and often their life insurance policy terms to the people that they have shared their lives with and worked so hard for.  Those that are left in the moment of death are often left with avoidable debt, destruction and a new starting point.

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It has taken me a few days to gather my thoughts about this subject.  I started this blog 8 days ago.

Mama Linda died yesterday.

She is survived by her very beautiful son, her incredible niece, her very cute dog and many, many people who love her and will always miss her spirit.  She was an out-spoken broad who made anyone who entered her home feel like family.

Mama Linda was a real person to me.  She liked my cheesecake and asked for the recipe.  She told me that I had pretty hair.

Mama Linda endured the many things that make the discriminatory policies and laws against our community so unbearable that a gay person might want to take their own life.  The loss of her partner was unavoidable.  All people love as mortals, knowing one day, our lovers will die and may do so before ourselves.  But the ensuing tragedy and fall-out after that event did not have to be so.

When we lost my father almost five years ago, he left my mother their collective property so that her life could continue with a minute semblance of normalcy.  Because of the separate property laws that apply to gays, where they cannot leave their houses and valuables to their spouses without a landslide of taxes and obstacles, many older gay people are met with an incredibly disparaging series of events when a partner is lost.

Marriage as a cultural phenomenon, as it stands as a story of love and union, is a beautiful point of contact.  Its story often connects unlikely allies and brings peace and unification where it may not be understood in any other circumstances.  For the people entering such a commitment, the event is exquisite.  For those surrounded by the event, the meaning is full and touching.  In that way, I am not against the institution of marriage.  In its story-telling form, I am for it.

But marriage is not just two people proclaiming their love for each other in public.  Marriage, in the United States, and in almost every country where such a ritual takes place, is a law-binding agreement that provides certain property rights and taxation rights to those that enter the arrangement.  That’s why many monarchies have a history of arranged marriage and inbreeding: it kept the money in the hands of the state and those that control it.  In this country, one born from a tradition of monarchy, many of the same practices were adopted, even if many of the imperial values were simultaneously being rejected.

Systematically denying marriage rights to marginalized populations has had a long and sordid history in this country that dates back to slavery.  The subjugation of minority populations through the denial of marriage and therefore property rights has been purposeful and systematic in order to keep those seen by those in power as less-desirable from acquiring stake in the state and therefore a say in its actions.  There are over 1,000 rights that homosexuals are not afforded that heterosexuals are.

What so many gay people face in discrimination is an atrocity, the same kind of discrimination that was perpetrated by what is now called Jim Crow.  It is not even close to a separate but equal.  It is only, simply, separate.  Those is gay relationships, even if they are married in their state, are forced to pay individual taxes on national levels, pay inheritance tax on shared property, are denied healthcare and insurance benefits, are often denied family benefits in services such as welfare, child care assistance and homelessness assistance and, in many cases, are denied access to visiting their loved ones in the hospital, even at their time of death.

Imagine investing with a partner only to lose it all in the event of their death.  Imagine raising a child with an incredible partner, only to have that child denied access to the other parent in decision making where other controlling parties are involved.  Imagine loving someone and not being able to hold their hand when they take their last breath.

These are the terrible realities that adult homosexuals face on a regular basis.  Some get through it.  Some manage.  Others do not.

I understand that the age of growth is over, that a mass attrition will take place as the world cannot pay its debts or sustain its current population.  We are likely to see more and more suicide as a result of the difficult times ahead.  But as we face the coming transition, we don’t have to further complicate things with indoctrinated discriminatory policies, making an already difficult situation to manage, near impossible to manage.

It is for those that cannot manage that I write this.  It is for Mama Linda that I ask the question, “what if it doesn’t get better?”

It shouldn’t have to be this way.  It should get better.  It should.  But right now, in the current state of inequality and the fall out as a result, the life on the other side of high school may not really be much better for the gay community.  Discrimination is discrimination whether it is coming from ignorant young people who find pleasure in bullying or from a society whose narrow understanding of prejudice perpetuates an unmitigated disparity for the benefit of a continuing denigration of social hierarchy.

We have seen how a disparate economic system feeds off the less fortunate and underprivileged, making the fat cats fatter and the poor more and more desperate.  Inequitable social constructs precipitate a parallel imbalance, forcing those oppressed by the system down an unnecessary rabbit hole.  As many people question the systems currently in place, taking to the streets to overthrow a system of oppression, I hope all involved understand how deep that oppression goes.  A society is only as rich as its poorest citizen, only as powerful as its most weak and only as free as its most enslaved.

But it can get better.

Unemployment, Disappointment and the Generation Gap.

I attended an event with featured speaker Chris Martinson, an amazing and revolutionary “economist.” I put economist in quotes because Martinson, on his website, self-identifies as “not an economist” but, rather, simply, a “scientist.” His study in his post-doctoral program at Duke University was in nuerotoxicology. He became a vice president of a fortune 300 company and had a brilliant stock portfolio. With his scientific background, he made a few discoveries, and Martinson became a staple voice of the peak oil movement, someone who has managed the economy on a “fringe” level, and, in many people’s eyes, has succeeded.

Martinson saw the inherent flaw in the monetary paradigm that calls for infinite growth on a finite planet and he did the research to back up his hypothesis. Knowing what he knew, about a decade ago, Martinson transferred his investments from esoteric stocks, growing at what was supposed to be exponential rates and started putting his money into more tangible resources, like gold, silver and food. Perhaps it’s more accurate to call Martinson an “anti-economist.” But that may be entirely my own conjecture.

As the beginning of Janaia Donaldson’s Peak Moment TV notes, “We are living at a peak of human innovation, information wealth and health. But we are also at a peak of population and consumption, with rising temperatures and declining resources, fueled by cheap oil and gas.” For me, Chris Martinson’s talk was especially interesting with Janaia Donaldson in the audience. I’m familiar with Donaldson’s work and she has been championing local, sustainable solutions to global problems for a number of years. She is a steward of the earth and her online TV show (www.peakmoment.tv) advocates for reasonable responses in a rapidly changing world. Her show often features people who have been working to reduce their carbon footprint, create a connected relationship to their community and form nourishing connections with the earth. I’m sure that there were others in the audience who shared Donaldson’s values but, if there were, they did not make themselves known.

I felt as though I were at an investors’ conference.

I am 31 years old. I don’t consider myself a youngster. I don’t have much in common with my nephew, who just entered college, except that we both have an inexplicable affinity for pop music and find common ground there in a way that most people of varying ages cannot. My age never seems like a big deal to me unless I’m getting carded for buying a bottle of wine. At Martinson’s talk, however, my age seemed like a big deal.

My partner and I walked into a conference room full of people that could have easily been our parents for the generational gap it presented. We aren’t ageist. We don’t consider ourselves the token Gen X participants of the peak oil movement. I don’t think that the generational gap even occurred to us until we were trying to unpack the day’s implications and the comments and questions brought forth by the audience’s participation.

I am now realizing that there may be a vast generational difference when it comes to the perspectives on the global economic crisis and the post-petroleum and peak oil movements.

Chris Martinson was probably not expecting my expectations. But Chris Martinson has been speaking to the peak oil movement long enough to at least be abreast of my generation’s issues. One thing was clear for me today, however: where I live, the out-spoken majority of Martinson’s audience was not on the same page that my partner and I am.

Martinson’s presentation was filled with countless charts and data exploring the truth of every Peak Moment TV production: We are at a peak of civilization. The consumptive and destructive luxury economy of recent years is an exploitive model nearing the way of the dodo bird.

Sadly, those hearing this message did not take the higher ground.

While Martinson’s commentary and research champions a new paradigm of preparation and sustainability, the audience members who were speaking up were almost entirely focused on how to acquire the means and tools to scoop up the profits of the last remaining crumbs of industrialized civilization and how to use those crumbs to their advantage.

It did not help that the intermission speaker was a self-identified “1%-er” whose silver-selling business made him “rich.” As someone who sees a profit-less future, a future of mass attrition, population die off, mass starvation and economic failure, this interlude was a bit of a mind-blowing experience. Here was Martinson, perfectly outlining a faltering and failing economic model, a model that has destroyed international relations, human relationships and the environment, followed by a man still advocating for wealth-building and economic misering in the form of silver coinage. To make his conceptual presentation even more awkward, he was also an avid “Christian” further rationalizing his silver hoarding, proclaiming that Jesus disapproves of the cash system but wants you to buy silver. (I am not a bible expert but didn’t Judas sell Jesus out for 30 pieces of silver? Matthew 26:15-27:3. Just saying.) Apparently this man was one of the sponsors of the event. He saw a way to piggy-back off of Martinson’s talk, a scientific view of current events that he personally doesn’t agree with, but one that could invoke fear in Martinson’s audience enough to abandon traditional forms of cash flow and purchase silver. This silver-seller saw an opportunity to further his economic status.

I am not under-privileged, under-educated or under-socialized. I am not currently inducted into a traditional line of economic work and I am also not traditionalized. Unlike many of my generation, I have had many doors open to me and many opportunities. I am part of a marginalized community (I am female and a lesbian) but I have had the good fortune of not being marginalized. My societal position is one I know is of license and dispensation and for that I am grateful.

I could do many things with my talents and specialties. I could enter the corporate marathon with acquiescence and even flow that would astound most. I do not take my attributes for granted.

My life has not been without hardship. My employment career has not been without hiccups. Still, I have no ambivalence about my ability to function as a capitalist worker in this society, even with an official rate of 10% unemployment.

I have chosen to bow out of the rat race. I took a voluntary lay off from a well-paid position with presently unheard-of benefits. And like many of my generation who have either been forced out of traditional employment or who see it as an enviable option, I have declined to be a willing participant in a broken economic system and am seeking to adopt a more proficient and constructive lifestyle, one that is more congruent with my human existence, my fellow man and with the earth. I have chosen to involve myself in what some see as neo-feudalism, a contract to work the land in turn for room and board and food. I have chosen a relationship with my “employer” where we work alongside each other and share resources rather than a perpetual monetary exchange to acquire those same resources.

What I have come to understand, however, after Martinson’s lecture, is that my choice to do so, came from another place a privileged existence.

I am young. Or, at least, young enough. I am new to the American economy. And I came to know the American and world economies at a time of real volatility. I have not had 30, 40, 50+ years invested in the workforce and I am therefore less subject to, as James Howard Kunstler calls it, “the psychology of previous investment.” I am not intimate with the beast that has been running things around here. Like many of my generation, I have not had a long enough relationship with the capitalist American economy to have fallen hopelessly in love. We are just friends. And even that might be a stretch. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that we are just friends on facebook.

I have no money. So I do not feel the need to ask where I might invest it. I am not interested in property ownership in the traditional sense. I am not interested in derivatives. I am not interested in silver and gold. I am not interested in 401ks. I am not interested in commodities. I am not interested in the stock market. I am not interested because I know that those things are not tangible entities for my generation. And like so many of my generation, I refuse to claw my way to the top, trampling on other people, other nations and what remains of our natural resources in order to get there.

I had no idea how freeing this reality is. People of my generation and younger are able to create a new psychology around today’s economic crisis. I am no longer interested in a “job” or how to establish my economic prowess. I am interested in relationships. I am part of a new generation. We are not approaching each other asking, “What do you do?”. We are asking who we are. We are not asking each other what essentials can be brought to the table and what profits may result from our expertise. We are asking each other what gifts we have to share. And we are giving those gifts freely.

Many of us are smart, thoughtful, employable people who see very clearly that there is no place for us in the current paradigm and, as such, can demand that the current paradigm change to meet our needs. We are absolutely not hoping for a return to the 1980s version of prosperity, one that sacrifices the earth, the environment and future generations to cushion our lives with novelty products and items of convenience against a mechanical system that strips us of our neighbors, our relationships and our fellow man. We have been ruined by that system and see it as a cancer. It’s easy for my generation to occupy Wall St and champion the failure of big business and big banks because we have nothing in those businesses and banks to lose.

Sadly, people of the generations before me have watched a different narrative play out. They have fought to maintain a system that was supposed to secure a brighter future. The baby boomers saw their parents come home after WWII to raise a new America. This America listened to the Beatles, the Supremes, Marvin Gaye and they watched Elvis’ gyrating hips while making plans to transform this country. They fought for equality between the races, the sexes and the generations. They fought for civil rights. America won the war against the Axis Powers and future generations would continue the fight against tyranny with a dogma of equality and optimism. The economic prosperity that followed probably seemed like the beautiful reward for the hard work they put in.

The Boomers have worked a majority of their lives within the framework of this prosperity, fastened themselves to “infinite growth,” promised a retirement, social security, perhaps a pension only to have the rug pulled out from under them at the last minute. They have paid mortgages, fixed up their houses and now many are facing foreclosure after being told that their home equity loan would pay for itself with the broken promise of rising housing values. They have raised beautiful children, sent their kids to college under the pretenses that an education would make for a better life only to watch those children return as adults to the nest four years later with mounds of debt and no prospects for a living wage. The Boomers have watched unravel all the gifts that they were given.

I have not been considerate of the very scary positions that the generations before mine must be in. All too often we, as a society, put our hope in generations to come, an investment that has seemed it should have a guaranteed promising return. “Is it not strange that desire should so many years out live performance?” (Shakespeare, 2 Henry IV.) I can’t imagine the devastation of what it must mean to have worked a lifetime for something only to watch it disintegrate. It is no fun to leave college only to be met with awareness that the degree you paid so much for is one of frivolity, surface aptitude and zero return. But the feeling probably doesn’t compare to what happens to a person who has given a lifetime to hard work only to realize the same truth.

For the more experienced generations who do not understand the Occupy Movement and cannot see what the fuss is about, let me offer this: You raised us to believe in hard work, to believe that if we applied ourselves in honest employment, we and our families would be provided for. You fought for safe employment conditions, equal employment opportunities, formed unions and created the American middle class. You owned houses, formed neighborhood associations, built dance halls and laid the ground work for what was supposed to be an amazing future. This is not to say that there weren’t terrible injustices and horrible moments of history along the way. Though we may not have lived through it, my generation can still find ways to mourn for the loss of JFK, Martin Luther King Jr and over 50,000 young Americans in Viet Nam. We too have had our collective injustices and tragedies: the Rodney King beating, the Columbine shooting, 9-11 and the subsequent resource wars that have followed and seem to have no end in sight. Try as we may to right the wrongs plaguing our generation and the world, our cries keep seeming to fall on deaf ears.

Please forgive us if we do not want to invest in the current corporate and monetary paradigm. We have seen what business as usual has done to this country and we are not pleased. You raised us to keep our promises, instilled in us that having integrity and keeping our word is one of the most important attributes a person can have. Your values are ingrained into the thread of the American people across generations. We have seen that our political leaders, big banks and large corporations have broken their promises to our parents, our grandparents, to our children and to us. We know now that what we thought was hard work in honest employment wasn’t, and that we were all just pawns in some big get-rich-quick scheme that benefitted the 1% of this country, raped the earth, marginalized other populations across the world and has ultimately left the rest of us in this country penniless, redundant and in need. We believe in family values, community, country and world inclusion and we refuse to feed the system that broke its promises to us and to our parents.

I won’t be “investing” in silver as I see it as another monetary means to continue down the same treacherous path that broke the backs of the American people. It’s just another form of monetary oppression, taking the place of cash for trade in human labor. Mr. 1% can keep his silver. I’m pretty sure silver doesn’t bring a person closer to god and I am very sure that it won’t turn my soil, plant my food or nourish my community.

At this point in the world economic story, I am not hoping for a job. I am not planning to have healthcare. I don’t want to make a million dollars. I don’t want to support corporations that pollute our air, poison our water and undermine our food supply. I will not invest in a system that stole our houses and our parents’ retirement. I will not perpetuate a standard that sends our young people to war, with no regard for human life, in order to plunder resources to fuel a broken system. I hope that before a complete collapse occurs we can dismantle our nuclear power plants safely, dispose of chemical waste as appropriately as possible and create enough community connections to transition into a safe and peaceful localized economy based on sustainability and shared resources.

I am not confident that those in power will take real steps toward a brighter future because to do so would be to dismantle the systems in place that have made them rich. This confidence is further rattled by the fact that current standards of living will substantially decrease worldwide and the sacrifices that will have to be made will be significant and challenging. The earth cannot sustain the current pace of population growth and environmental destruction and will return to stasis whether the humans on earth are active participants or not. I am hopeful with the populace movements all over the world that we are seeing a shift in consciousness and may be able to make adequate changes to significant entities before the means to do so are no longer available. In the mean time, I am reaching out to support my community, connect with my family, build relationships and nurture the land.

In the spirit of popular song lyrics, and as a tribute to the generation before me, a generation of my mother and father whom I love very much, let me end this blog with this:

“I don’t care too much for money, because money can’t buy me love.” –George Harrison

Who the hell are these “Occupy” people?

I’ve been running around on the farm up here in the California foothills for the past few weeks trying to get the fall happenings in order.  The broccoli needed to be planted. The tomatoes needed to be canned.  The pumpkin patch needed weeding. The newly-planted garlic needed mulching. 

On top of the regular farm chores, I’ve had all my other adult responsibilities to handle. I had to go to the post office, pay bills, do the grocery shopping, go to the laundermat and drop off the recycling.  The house is a mess. The cats need litter. The floor needs to be vacuumed.  The toilet needs to be scrubbed. I’m busy.

I try and keep up on the local, national and world happenings and of course have been wondering what’s up with this whole “Occupy” movement. I’ve read blogs and articles. I’ve watched news stories and self-published videos. I’ve seen the pictures.  It’s inspiring. But I keep thinking, “Who the hell are these people?”

I finally got to cleaning off my desk today.  I set aside the bills not due yet. I looked through my seed catalogue and circled a few things.  I thumbed through my alumni magazine from UC Davis.  And then I found it.  I found the picture of the starry-eyed girl with the frizzy red hair, in her Greek sandals, holding her high school diploma. And I found my answer.  I figured it out.

Those people, those hippie-progressive-idealists standing in front of big banks holding signs, believing in change and marching for it? They’re me.

They are me. They are the me ten years ago.  They are the me before I lost my house, before I lost my job.  They are the me before we went down to one family car and paid off the piles of credit card debt with my father’s life insurance money after he died.  They are the me that had the out-of-control student loans, the me working for the trucking company getting coffee.  They are that woman, just out of collage, not able to find a job.

And damn it. They are me today.  They have bills they can’t pay, dreams that they know won’t be realized and fears that they hate to disclose.  I mean, I even wrote a blog applauding their efforts because I understood the predicament.

But I see things more clearly now.
And yet, I, too, am part of the population that sees the point these occupiers have to make but haven’t gotten my ass down to Main Street (more or less Wall Street) to join in the fray.

Already the corporate news media is trying to paint these people as crazy leftist communists with nothing better to do than cause a ruckus. 

I know that the people suffering in this country at the hands of corporate corruption are not crazy.

And now I see many fellow bloggers, people who share my values, starting to to take the stance of holier-than-thou.  I read a blog from energybulletin.net today, a place I can usually count on for enlightened points of view, whose author openly admitted to not having time to visit her local “Occupy” protest but whom was able to paint the protesters as unfocused kids, pandering to corporate interests and took the time to give them the bullet points about what they should be doing.

I agreed with the values.  I agreed with the advice to bow out of the corporatacracy, to halt “business as usual,” to stop wars, to buy local, sustainable food and to establish a new world order of compassion, environmentalism, sharing and inclusion.  But the blanketing is over-reaching and unfair. And the assumption that these occupiers have no idea what they are doing is ridiculous.

It is unfair to assume that if someone shows up to a protest in a three-piece suit or a name-brand sweater that they are mis-guided and ignorant.  I have grandma’s quilt but I also have the name brand sleeping bag because I bought it a decade ago and it seems a waste to toss it.  I buy local but I also buy corporate-created cat litter because, as much as I try to reason with my very sweet siamese, she would rather shit on the bathroom floor than on corn cob recycling.  I live on a farm. We are organic and sustainable. But we still put gas in the car to take the figs and eggs to the local co-op. 

There are very, very few people who have made the complete transition to living off the land with a zero carbon footprint.  I do not support corporate America but I cannot say that my hands are completely clean.  And anyone who has enough electronic access to the outside world to know that the “Occupy” movement is happening cannot claim that they do either.

Maybe you feel like anti-consumerism is second nature.  Maybe you’ve been recycling since the 1980’s.  Maybe you’ve been involved in a local transition movement to help get your community off of petroleum reliance.  Maybe you grow your own food. And maybe you’ve been doing all of the above for so long that you want to stick your tongue out at these “johnny-come-latelies” and tell them all about your values and what they’ve been missing.

But if you do that then you are shunning people who are trying to embrace incredible values, people who have taken the time and who have the gall to get out and be loud about what so many of us have been writing about and talking about to each other for too long. 

All the inner circles who have been talking to themselves about local food, resource wars, corporate corruption and peak oil just had the doors blown off of their private Tuesday-night conference room at the local Unitarian church and are out in the streets making a fuss about it and getting national coverage.  I hope they never shut up.

I hope these kids and so-called corporate lackeys stand there on Wall Street and all across this nation holding their signs, doing their homework and drinking their locally-grown organic tea until we see revolution in this country. Real revolution. And I hope we never look back.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have protest to get to.

Revolution

I’m not sure that we are on the horizon of a revolution. I would like to think so but I’m not sure. All the elements are there. Oppression. A government that no longer serves its country. Taxation without representation. Slaves (for all intents and purposes). But I’m still not convinced that the American people have the stomach for a revolution. Malcolm X wrote, “If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” And that’s why the revolution will not be televised. We are a corporatacracy. We are living under a government run by and catering to big corporations and our media falls under that category. Why would those that need to be overthrown report on their overthrow? As the famous quote by Gil Scott Heron goes, “The revolution will not be televised.”

The “Occupy Wall St.” protest has not fallen flat. But it hasn’t gotten the voice that it deserves. Not because an unjust number of people have been arrested. (Although an unjust number has.) Or because an esoteric crowd has chosen to protest. (The crowd is you and me.) It has fallen because those that are being protested are those in power. Even the “people’s” media, like Google and twitter, understand that they are Wall Street’s concubines and had chosen from the onset to censor all possible outlets.

When it’s Egypt’s government, or Libya’s, it makes for a fairly easy revolution. When the social media is ruled by a country far away, one that has interest in the revolting country’s position, it behooves the social media conglomerates to go along with the revolutionary position. When, however, the corporation sees revolution affecting its own corporate interests, its bottom line, suddenly censorship is easier than revolution.

So the new American Revolution will likely be one that is steeped in its history: One if by land, two if by sea and three if by Underground Railroad. That is why we are not necessarily ripe for revolution. We know that the government that governs us are the very same corporations that govern us. And we have acquiesced to the corporations for so long that to overthrow them, and all that have oppressed us, would require a revolution in action, communication and dogma.

We may be getting there.

The collaboration of the occupy movement gives me hope. We need to understand that our neighbors are us. We may be White, Black, Native American. We may be democrat, republican or otherwise. We may be parents, single mothers or childless. We may be gay, hetero, or bi. We may be female, male or somewhere in between. We may have viable jobs, we may be jobless, just unemployed, just out of college or not employable. We may be full, hankering or hungry. But we are all one. We are the 99%.

We are a new America. The straight dentist with the Hummer lives on the same block as the Lesbian just out of college. And while it seems like we’ve nothing in common, we are all struggling. We were all promised an America that didn’t deliver because it was too wrapped up in politics to notice the populace it served. We are the 99%.

And we are just beginning.

The “Occupy” protests have the potential to bring real revolution to this country—not just the slogan of change but actual, real change. The Occupy movement has all the elements of transformative reform: diversity, intelligent approach, cooperation and peaceful protest. And it is gaining momentum. There are local protests to go along with the Wall Street protest all outlining the same creed: America belongs to Americans—not corporate greed and those corrupted by it.

While the local and national news stations will not likely be reporting the important details of the protests, there are enough independent people uploading pictures and videos to the internet now that the corporations hosting the videos won’t be able to manage content fast enough to delete what they deem as undesirable perspectives. Social media is restoring the first amendment in this country that was hijacked by corporations. People all over the country are bearing witness to the peaceful collaboration: mothers holding their children and carrying signs about the national debt, men in fatigues holding signs protesting the war, men in business suits asking where their jobs went. Black. White. Old. Young. People from all walks of life are coming out to ask for the America they were promised, an America that we can believe in. And, for what seems like the first time in my life time, people are actually coming together, crossing party lines, racial lines, gender lines and realizing that there are no class lines. We are the 99%.

If we continue this way, I believe we will see real change.

But how much will the American people take? How far will the occupiers go? If the police continue to beat the peaceful protesters, will we continue the nonviolent approach? If Martial Law is declared, will the American people continue to demand change? If bank accounts are frozen, the military is deployed to the streets and all resources put directly under government control, will the protesters still show up? Will we stand together? Will we continue to feed each other? To help each other? To reach out with one voice and both hands?

I have been to a lot of protests. People show up, send a message and then go home. The message never gets delivered. I’ve seen a million people march for civil rights and to stop wars. The message never got through.

I think the majority of people in this country understand that our government has failed to work for its people for some time now. In the past decade, so many people, people who believed in the American Dream and worked hard for it, have lost their jobs to over-seas labor, their houses to big banks, their pensions to Wall St and their family members to war. I think people are starting to understand that resources are scarce and that directing American resources and people to wars overseas is idiocy and doesn’t serve 99% of this country. I think people are clearly seeing that direct collaboration is the only way to win.

I believe that real revolution will come when we understand fully that we are the 99% and we are responsible for that 99%. If one of us is impoverished, we are all impoverished. If one of us is hungry, we are all hungry. If one of us is under educated, we are all under educated. If one of us is beaten, we are all beaten. If one of us is lost to war, we are all lost to war. If we can hold this truth in our hearts and carry it wherever we go, then we will have real revolution.