Thursday, November 10, 2011

Occupy Movement: Phase 2: Now What?

The Mayor of Portland OR - just announced that he'll be having the Occupy Protestors removed from the city park soon (click here for the press release).

Similar action is occurring around the country and it seems that the Occupy Movement has gained all that it can from the "sit in" strategy. So, what is next? Where does the movement go from here? Before I answer that - let me explore some thoughts on where we are at from a New Thought perspective.

I believe that the Occupy Movement arose from a consciousness that was "fed up" - tired and weary of the inequity of our world. Similar uprisings in the Middle East - the so called Arab Spring - arose from a similar place in consciousness, a desire to be heard, seen and validated as a being of significance in the world. This is a universal desire - something that we all want. We all have the need to be heard, seen and feel as if we matter to the world - that our presence makes a difference and that we live in a world where we are empowered and can direct our life with purpose. Whenever one wakes up to the awareness that they have been oppressed or suppressed the natural desire is "take control" to make one's presence known and felt. Once this occurs, the door opens to the next step - to take restorative action. But before restorative action can take place there must be a grounding in a greater awareness of who we really are. Without this grounding restorative action turns to reactionary and retaliation action. This is the difference between effective social change movements and ineffective ones. Let me give you a few examples:

1 The Tea Party - This group actually tapped into the same collective frustration and feelings of oppression and suppression that the Occupy Movement did. In doing so they were able to quickly turn this frustration into action in the form of election of "Tea Party" platform candidates. All of this is part of "Phase 1" of social change: Frustration, Awakening, Get Noticed (ie "Take Control").
However, the Tea Party failed to get grounded in a greater awareness and inclusive vision of who and what we are as a human family. In fact, much of the early Tea Party support was actually funded and organized by those with a divisive agenda. And it was this more divisive agenda and vision of "us vs them" that the movement was grounded in. As a result, potential restorative action turned to reactionary action - in the form of "obstructive politics" and most recently by ballot measures and policy platforms that only served to deepen the gap between "us and them." The result on election night 2011 was major defeat and rejection of Tea Party candidates and ballot measures. A house divided against itself cannot stand. The Tea Party believed that they could take the general frustration and disenchantment of the people and turn it into support for divisive politics and policies. They were wrong. And the reason is simple: It is a universal principle that all dissonance seeks to resolve itself in terms of harmony. In other words while the frustration or "dissonance" of the people can be leveraged - it ultimately seeks to resolve itself in terms of greater harmony - not more "us and them."

2. Civil Rights Movement - This movement also begins with a growing frustration, dissonance, inequity and inequality in our culture. The tension builds until there is a spark of awakening which leads to boycotts, marches and site-ins (Get noticed, take control). But this movement becomes grounded in a deep spiritual understanding that we are all in this together - we must make a world that works for everyone. The movement was about Civil rights (grounded in the principle of inclusivity of everyone) not "African American rights"
Out of this grounding came the action steps to restore "justice and equality for all." The actions of the movement were restorative in nature. Restoring us to a nation that reflects is highest moral and spiritual values of including everyone in a "single garment of destiny"

The template is made clear - and can be seen throughout history.  In the Bible we read the story of Moses who awakens to the injustices of his world - his reaction? 40 years in the land of Midian as a shepherd - metaphysically meaning that he went within to watch over the flock of his own thoughts and emotions until he receives the insight (burning bush) that where he is standing is Holy Ground and that God's people are destine to be freed to their rightful place. It is from this grounded vision that he then takes action to lead his people (restorative action) to the Promised Land.
In the story of Siddartha (Buddha) - he awakens to the inequity, inequality and injustices in his world - outside the walls of his protected palace. His reaction? He sits occupy himself in meditation until the awakening of enlightenment - from which the teachings of Buddhism come. These teachings become the template for restorative action (the Eightfold Path and Four Noble Truths)

The Occupy Movement must now decide which type of movement it is going to be. Phase 1, frustrations over the inequalities and inequity of our systems, has come to an end. The collective attention of a nation has been obtained. The next phase is about action. Will it be restorative action that seeks to unite us in a collective consciousness of the 100% that needs to work together to build a world that works for everyone - or will it be reactionary and retaliation action that continues to divide our world into "us (99%) and them (1%)" categories that must fight each other for supremacy and control?

The answer lies entirely in what type of vision the movement collectively grounds itself in. How the Occupy Movement handles itself in this transition will be the most telling aspect of its destiny. This was captured beautifully by Portland Mayor, Sam Adams in today's press conference:
 "It is my sincere hope that the movement, with its focus on widespread economic inequity, will flourish in its next phase - a phase where we can focus all our energies on economic and social justice, not port-a-potties and tents."
to that end I offer this prayer (an adaptation of the Global Heart Vision of United Centers for Spiritual Living - submitted by my friend Rev. Edward Viljoen):

  • We envision The Occupy Movement as a bridge across the illness and illusion of separation thereby dynamically empowering the vision of Global Heart.
  • We envision The Occupy Movement as united and actuated by this compelling vision of a healthy world (a world experience of Global Heart) and is ardently committed to bringing this vision forth through transformative teachings and democratic action.
  • We see The Occupy Movement as a global community of inspired individuals caring for and about each other and the entire planetary family, thereby bringing the gift of active compassion and kindness to the world. Our Occupy Movements and communities become “points of inspiration and influence” effectively advancing the vision of the Global Heart to benefit all expressions of life.


  1. What a great piece!
    I can't wait to share it with everyone I know.


  2. Loved it! Thanks so much.

    FYI, your spell & grammar checker failed you David. "Significants" should be "significance." Also, it's Siddartha.


  3. Anonymous11:51 AM

  4. Thank you for this excellent piece. I want you to know that I quoted from this piece heavily today (11/22) on my Internet Radio show, Why Shamanism Now. Thank you, Christina Pratt

  5. Anonymous10:33 PM

    Thank you for this visioning of today's energy for change manifesting as the better world we all long for.



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