[I was asked if I would speak at our local Unitarian Universalist Society here in Santa Barbara last Sunday (01/01/2012) to relate the social justice work we are doing with Occupy Santa Barbara with the theme for January of Unity and Solidarity. Specifically the service on Sunday was about having an All for one and one for all mentality.]
"All for one & one for all." I hear that famous phrase inside of communications that have lent strength to me in the past few months. Most messages I've received while volunteering with Occupy Santa Barbara ends with phrases like, "In solidarity." or, "With unity and support.", or, my personal favorite, "In solidarity, unity, and love." The sudden reemergence of these terms, often used by generations who had been written off as self-obsessed, anti-compassionate, and only interested in pointless entertainment, made me start to wonder: what is it about trying times that makes it feel so right to simply come together with other people?
Sometimes the expression of an all-for-one, one-for-all mindset is simply cathartic. Other times it allows us to follow through on coordinated actions, which would never be possible to undertake alone.
[Originally published by the Santa Barbara Independent on 12/21/2011]
When President Obama signed the historic Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act last year, there was great hope that California could begin making strides toward delivering health care to the 7.5 million people in our state who are uninsured.
There was hope that the quality in the health care delivery system would improve, costs would come under control, and physicians and pharmacists would be more accessible to the most vulnerable people in our state.
However, last month, with the quiet approval of draconian cuts to the Medi-Cal program, the state and federal governments have counteracted all of those goals and have made it more difficult to implement the Affordable Care Act in California.
I've been organizing with a regional group called Occupy 805 here in California's beautiful Central Coast in conjunction with our local Occupy SB. Most of the local General Assemblies in our area have come out in support of Occupy Oakland's call to shut down West Coast Ports on December the 12th.
However, with all that is going on regarding the Leadership of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union urging members to not join the ranks of the movement, I felt that it is necessary to talk a little about why blockading or disrupting port activities not only is a time-honored tradition in our country, but also examples of the questionable corporate practices going on at our own local port.
Below the squiggle, (and into American tradition) we go!
So, I happened to be at a regional general assembly being put together by an incredible group of folks organizing regional actions under the area code-referenced name of Occupy 805. We had broken up into working groups and I was currently engaged in a discussion about the West Coast Port Blockades on 12/12 and what that meant for our local Occupy Movements, and specifically as it related to proposed action at Port Hueneme.
Jen, an impressive activist who was facilitating the meeting, announced that it looked like OccupyLA was indeed getting raided tonight. Immediately discussion broke out about potentially going down there from Oxnard to show support, only another hour's ride south. As for us, the Occupy Santa Barbara crew of three, we started talking about it and immediately came to consensus (which is, not surprisingly, a fair sight easier with only three people). The regional meeting was very lively with people literally not wanting to leave the cafe that had been used for the meeting. I started to feel an excitement in the pit of my stomach in the spot that usually lets me know there are interesting happenings ahead. In a blink we were cruising down the 101 and on the way to L.A.
I received an email today from a friend that I had to take time to respond to because I feel like it addresses some of the sticking points that are still making it difficult for certain segments of people, who want to be supportive, to truly get behind the Occupy Movement. It is from a great Vets for Peace gentleman who has been an awesome local supporter, but he has a hard time with certain occupation tactics. He was specifically responding to the video of the Iraq War Veteran who was beaten and ended up with a ruptured spleen.
Hopefully I helped to facilitate some perspective exchange below the fold.
So earlier today my Dad forwarded me the following email from his friend with the message, "MARSHALL: Here is one you can answer for me ! LYTP DAD". Considering that this appears not to be an actual article by Thomas Sowell its even more fun to dissect the nuttiness.
So I did, with what ability I have assisted by the Internets Machine. I've decided to post it up here so that I can refer back to it later and, hopefully, someone out there gets as annoyed with these types of misrepresentations of the Occupy Movement as I do. Funny how the people putting out this type of rhetoric often seem to be the same folks who cheered on deregulation and record CEO profits during pre-recession days...
It gets ugly below the squiggle.
So I called to end my 401k contributions today and see what the process is for moving the money I have in my current 401k account out of their system completely. I cannot abide giving nearly 10% of my gross pre-tax pay to a company helping to finance a class of multinational über-corps that are acting like Lex Luthor, or any other variety of super villains, not to mention they are about to drive us further into recession.
Painful and frustrating details under Ms. Squiggly.
Yesterday had so many twists, turns, surprises, and blessings that it will be a challenge to recall the events in their entirety, but here it goes…
The planned action was to meet throughout the morning, speakers at Noon, march on the banks at one.
The turnout, even for the speaking time, was really heartening. On a fabulously beautiful day in Santa Barbara, with most people looking forward to the Lemon Festival in Goleta and beach time, we had hundreds of people show to give support and participate. Vets spoke, American Indian Movement folks spoke, a couple of SEIU shirts speckled the audience, and the silverbacks of our community were interacting with our energetic youth.
Here’s how it went down from my perspective:
The crowd downtown had swelled in the DLG Plaza incredibly when word was out that the cops were on the way. We had taken a task force to walk around the State St. side of the block with signs and chants of "People arrrrrre not corrrrrporations!" The reaction on State was surprise with some waves or people joining in with the chanters.
Upon returning we found that the numbers of occupiers in the public square had definitely multiplied further. People were walking into the square from all sides. Some walking in with purpose (occasionally hollerin' welcomes and chants, or just exclaiming at the sight of the group), while others lingered in little collectives around the outside of the park. Not sure what the exact size was but let’s just ballpark between 80-100 or so, and I think that is a conservative estimate? too tired to count
The vast majority of people were younger, extremely warm, eyes filled wide with surprise and excitement. The air smelled like purpose. A very significant group of UCSB students suddenly appeared. It became clear that something was happening. The projected documentary was suddenly being projected back onto the side of City Hall. Music was playing from multiple cars. Congregations of people began talking to each other....tigers, and lions, and freedom, oh my!
Have to write a note to get it off the chest.
Looking at the breakdown made me realize two things:
- I've been living in a Progressive/Liberal bubble community too long to really be able to guess at national results:
I was shocked at the lack of American spirit in the Tea Party-Republican winners tonight. Rand Paul winning when he doesn't understand the value of public education investment, a cornerstone of American success; Ron Johnson who took down Progressive hero Russ Feingold is a guy who said:
<span> </span> “I’m a pretty traditional guy. I believe in a culture of life, and I believe marriage is between one man and one woman.” – Ron Johnson Ron is pro-life, pro- family, and believes that freedom of religion doesn’t mean freedom from religion.. <--- (Ron Johnson's actual website)</p>
The Cleansing of the Gaza Strip
I need to write this in order to vent my frustrations regarding the current humanitarian crisis in Gaza. While I would never pretend to be an expert in Middle-East political analysis there are some things which become painfully clear to any layman when you take a minute to ponder the recent events:
Ironically, whenever New Years Eve cometh, one always tends to look back. In looking back you, tend to compare one situation against a similar one. So, not surprisingly, I was pondering elections. Specifically, how they are won and what goes into the American public attitude regarding who they want as their new Commander in Chief.
I thought back through years of dreamy,(and sometimes dreary) presidential-election memories. I thought about all the surprises that occurred during my lifetime. How people came onto the national stage as a long-shot only to end up sitting in the White House exchanging high-fives with the ones who brought them...or possibly even dancing with said ones.