Yesterday I posted the communiqué from the Occupy Wall Street non-group stating their one demand. Today I was thinking about what a ludicrous thing it is that the media was applying pressure for them to state what their demands were. I thought about it yesterday too, but there was no making sense of it, so I just had to let it lie.
But today I was thinking about it some more. I thought about it in the context of why that’s such a big deal, the idea of a list of demands. I thought about the meme of public consumption that encourages people to dismiss activism and dissent if it doesn’t have a set agenda – if there isn’t some stated premise or an alternate plan to “make things better”, an idea to change things to the way that the activists want things changed. I thought about how demands make activism seem like a hostage situation. How that also makes it easier to criminalize dissent the way we see that happening so much more in the “free” world.
And I thought, why is that important, the destination, the plan? Is it? Important, I mean? Or is it just an excuse to not do anything. Is there this idea that, unless there is a fool-proof plan that guarantees success, it’s better to sit in the foul excrement that we find ourselves in just in case trying to change will result in us sitting in foul excrement. There’s a disconnect in that logic that simply doesn’t wash. The devil we don’t know is, in all likelihood, no worse than the devil we do know. It’s a devil, right? Maybe we can find a place with fewer devils. Or none. (Although that’s unlikely.)
Whether in business or in life, I’ve found that I am at my most creative, most innovative, most resourceful when forced to be. When I’ve jumped first and asked questions later. When I’ve removed cowardice from my options list of possible reactions. Even when I wasn’t, acting fearlessly forced me to adapt, to think outside the box, to find a way to get from there to wherever else it was I needed to go in whatever way worked. And the absence of the option to go back made it imperative that I find a way through.
The Life Inversion was definitely one of those moments, one I chose. It was a fine moment, but there was only an idea of where I was going, not a real plan. I’ve been making it up as I go since then, and it’s been the best couple and a half years of my life with no shore yet in sight.
So part of me wishes that OWS hadn’t provided their “one demand”, as creative and encompassing and ironic as it was, because now the idiots on TV that speak according to their scripts and the wishes of their bosses will have something to (erroneously) hang their hats on. Those of us that are talking heads will be too dim or thoroughly purchased to acknowledge the irony. The talking heads are paid to be dim and literal. It’s in their contracts, in small, small print between the lines, and even if there’s still and inkling of free thought somewhere in them, the contract (read big paycheck in exchange for compliance) forces them to act otherwise.
And yet, I profoundly love that OWS released their manifesto of demand. You can’t act for the lowest common denominator. You can’t play the games that the media or government wants you to. To do so is to admit defeat from the get go. In that way lies madness, so to speak. So we go off the board for $200, Alex, and break every fucking rule that we can, and hope that enough people see and wake up. We do things completely differently because the way we’ve done it up until now simply and obviously has not, will not, can not work.
And sometimes, the intention is everything. Not the plan, not the lists, not all the thinking in the world about making transitions or redefining economies or restructuring society. Sometimes why is the only thing worth talking about. We need to change. Why? For the disaffected and the impoverished and the dis-empowered, here and everywhere, now and tomorrow. For our children and theirs and theirs Because the strong should fight for the weak. Because today should fight for tomorrow.
So march on OWS. Wish I was there. Who cares how we’re going to get to where we need to go. If we wait for the perfect plan, we’ll never cast off. Let’s just start and get creative once the boat has sailed.