Listening. My Perspective on the OWS Protests

I don’t get involved in politics much.  If you’ve read this blog for a while – or listened to my podcast over the last year – or even had the misfortune of talking to me face-to-face (LOL) — you’re quite aware of my stance on politics.  In a recent conversation on a friend’s Facebook wall posting, I saw my particular position articulated by an individual during a “debate/discussion” over the effectiveness of the OWS protest.  It went along these lines:

Why worry about the 1%?  They aren’t going to listen, even if ALL of the ‘99%’ gathered together to yell and scream at them.  Why not do something more effective like work in the local soup kitchens, help with the yearly toy drives, and other social initiatives aimed towards helping those less fortunate in the ‘99%’?  That would make a far better solution than standing around, yelling and screaming about the inefficiencies of the system.

When I read that, I realized that this has been the direction I’ve been attempting to articulate for quite some time — just doing a very poor job of it (nothing new for me).  I completely grok what the OWS protests are trying to say – I mean shitski, I completely agree with the points being made.  I just see the entire protest as being ineffective, and a waste of energy that could be directed in far more positive and appropriate directions.

Help One Another

We all blather on and on about community.  And that’s all that happens with it.  Its just a load of talk with no concerted, lasting effort behind it.  I’m just as guilty as anyone else in this regard, so its not like I am singling any one individual or group with my statement.  My own finger is pointing back at myself here too.  We’ve talked a lot about getting together as a community – supporting one another – coming together in both ritual and deed.  We’ve got the ritual aspect down pat.  Throughout the year, there are open circles and rituals, where the public at-large is invited in.  At one time, here in the DFW area, the Pagan community had the social aspect down fairly well too.  There was a public place to gather, but over time, it seemed that the support of the location continued to fall to the same people – over and over.  There were folks who also provided assistance, but they were few and far between.  Folks started letting personalities and politics cloud the idea and lead the discussion.

Seemingly, we’ve let the focus shift from helping one another — being there for more than just food, clothing and monies (when absolutely necessary) — being there when someone just needs someone to talk with — and not just about their problems, but to just TALK.  Being someone of a like-mind who can just be there to spend some idle chatter and a few minutes out of the day…until you’ve been in that spot, you have no idea how much that small gesture can mean.  When people hear the word “support” they think of the clothes, materials, and food that they can provide — but what about the time? Not just the time standing on a soup-line helping serve food to the needy, time spent in the kitchens preparing the food or washing the dishes.  How about the time spent just sitting and listening to someone?  REALLY listening to them?  Providing them your undivided attention for a short period of time…that makes more difference than you really know.

In the end, terms like 99%, 1%, Pagan, Christian, Wiccan, Conservative, Liberal, etc etc.  These are just labels.  Just descriptives that don’t tell the full story of the individual.  Once applied, the stereotypical definition attached to those terms is applied to the individual — even when the definition misses the mark.  That’s the true sadness of watching the entire OWS protests.  Everyone is caught up in the process of finding quick-stick definitions to apply to everyone else.  No one is listening.  No one is hearing what the real angst is within all of this.  And sadly, that message was washed away a long time ago.  I’ll say it again, we have an opportunity here to come together as a much larger community…helping one another in ways that are already in place, and by doing the one thing that was never going to be accomplished in the first place with the OWS movement:  listening.


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