For more than five weeks, you’ve been out in the streets, raising your voices in unison to make a change. Not just a little change – there’s no law to tweek here or there that’s going to fix “the system.” Even the most right wing arch conservative republican knows that. This is why you’re demonstrating against Wall Street, against the slow corporate takeover of our government, against endless wars and endless greed. Your list of demands changes and grows. Your democratic process to make decisions beneficial to all who participate in the movement grows.
It’s also one of the most difficult endeavors you’ll face in your entire life.
None of this will come easy.
We’ve already seen how police and other authorities have reacted to your spirits in New York, Boston, LA, Seattle, Oakland, and dozens of other cities. We’ve seen thousands of people arrested, beaten, gassed, and assaulted in the streets. We’ve seen shouting matches between police and protesters, between passersby and protestors and between occupiers themselves. It is anger, frustration and fear that fuels these confrontations, that causes humans to act so violently towards each other and has set our species into a downward spiral where we all suffer. None of this needs to happen. You have shown this. You continue to show this each day you adapt to new situations. Each time a confrontation is avoided, each time someone decides to use words instead of weapons, each time someone decides a conversation is better than an altercation.
While it feels good to act out in anger, to use that bottled up emotion to transform a symbol of corporate personhood into rubble, to resist becoming a captive of the police state, to tear every single cell that makes up this thing we call “the system” to shreds – you must not act out of anger. You must act instead, out of love. The system, the capitalist hegemony, the patriarchal structure, the empires that once were and are now, built themselves on the same emotions – anger, fear and frustration. Even the most democratic revolutions have seen the faces of the oppressed transform into the faces of oppressors. You do not have to let that happen. You must not let that happen.
Change is a constant in the universe. Change is what’s happening in every occupied city. Change is what’s happening right now to each one of you. Change is what’s happening to society as a whole. You are agents of that change, as are your friends and foes. No empire lasts forever. No nation lasts forever. No movement lasts forever. In the eyes of time even the largest empire is smaller than a grain of sand. You must remember this. Even if tomorrow, every occupied city clears out demonstrators and arrests and jails them, you will still go on, possibly together with friends and comrades in arms, possibly alone. But what you have done in the past three weeks, what you may do in the coming weeks, what you have learned and experienced, what you have seen – those things will carry on with you for the rest of your life.
Even if tomorrow all of your demands are met, you must not let it end there.
You must take the lessons you’ve learned and apply them to new experiences. What you do in the streets is important to make a change – and a positive one. But you must take that with you wherever you go, whatever you do. That is what is key, what is most important in the Occupy Movement. Occupy not only the streets and parks of a city, but the hearts and minds of others. Occupy your own heart, your own mind, your own spirit. Be not just an agent of change and a force for good for today, but one for the rest of time.
So if you want to smash the state, simply remember – don’t let it drive you. The old mechanisms of the world are already cracked, crumbling and turning to sand. They’re rotten, hollowed out and old. Those who prop them up would have you believe the sun never sets on the seats of power. But, the sun has already gone down. They may have tried to bury hope, but hope is rising again with the new sun. As it does, we can build something better and brighter with the dust beneath our feet.
(Editor's note: Originally published at Diatribe Media)