OWS: To Change the Country, We Just Might Have to Change Ourselves
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We Are the Change
Joining the change will require reassessing both our habits and our organizations. And a fair question is, just what does that mean? I don't pretend to have the answers. But there are places to start. We can examine our privileges, share power, insist that resources be spread much further than they are now. We can think about relating better to all, not just to those in our political and social circles. As a daily practice, we can better value the people on whose work we depend, those who collect our garbage, deliver our food, clean our offices, do our laundry. And for the future of the earth -- we can challenge and change some of our greedy habits and remind ourselves of how easy it is to abuse the environment when we are privileged.
Many of us have been toiling for years, struggling for social change, for inspirational and accurate media coverage, for fairness and equality. We have been doing it the way we thought was right, and we should give ourselves credit for persistence, for not giving up. But we do find ourselves at a crossroads. Embracing the new has risks, and feels confusing, perhaps even threatening.
Eve Ensler has a way of artfully articulating the elements of key moments. She writes:
"If we are not afraid, if we open ourselves, we all know everything has to change. We need places to announce and actualize this change. Places are crucial. The ingredients involve stepping out of your comfort zone, giving up more than your share, telling your story and listening to others, not thinking in an obvious linear way, trusting the collective imagination to be more empowered and visionary than your own, refusing to participate in the violent destruction of anything. That includes taking anything that isn't yours, taking more than you need, and believing you have a right to dismiss or ignore or belittle anyone with less power or money or education. Believers...will be beaten with batons and pepper sprayed and dragged off. But no one can evict or silence what is emerging in Zuccotti Park."
Or what is emerging from the thousands of sister and brother occupations in the U.S. and across the globe.
It's clear. The movement that is OWS can't do it alone. They, and millions of us, need to be willing to step up, and change ourselves and change the world in the process.
Don Hazen is the executive editor of AlterNet.