occYOUpy

Summer is my favorite time of year, but even in the best of circumstances it’s real damn hard not to be cynical, real damn easy to believe that the world churns on hate.

My cocktail of disgust and sadness with the world is a nasty one. Steubenville. Deepwater Horizon. Trayvon Martin. Marissa Alexander. Virginia Tech. Ethan Couch.

And so on.

Some days it feels like my country is a joke. With a wealth gap higher than most developed nations, and millionaires masquerading as “public servants” in Congress. These “public servants” legislate things like bank bailouts—saving the institutions that helped create a recession—and wars in which they and (nearly all) their children do not participate.

Meanwhile, nonviolent offenders pack jails—whose operating corporations turn massive profits—while tens of thousands of rape kits go untested. For those who pursue higher education, a college degree is often a guarantee of a lifetime of debt. School food has no nutrition, and some children have 10 meals a week at school.

But really, most people eat crap, since we have a “food” system, rather than an actual food supply. Toxic chemicals are perfectly legal, and subsidies further deflate “food” so that actual, nutritious food is not affordable. More than half of Americans are obese. Moreover, the environment and untold numbers of animals suffer for the sake of cheap, convenient “food.”

Surely not a coincidence that we don’t have a true “health care” system. We absolutely have a medical/pathologization system, which is the most expensive and inefficient in the world.

And the violence in this country is nearly beyond description. The count of school shootings grows by the decade. Far too many girls have committed suicide after details, and even videos, of sexual assaults were posted online.

Worst of all, humanity is destroying its habitat—every ecosystem has been polluted, and many destroyed, by human activity, or at least consumption. For example, nearly all of the albatrosses on Midway Atoll have plastic in their digestive systems. Midway is literally in the middle of the Pacific, thousands of miles from any continent. In our desperate quest for energy, we destroy ecosystems, which then collapse surrounding economies, when we have plenty of technology available to develop renewable energy.

And so on.

I am part of the problem. I recognize interdependence, including how my life is engaged with these toxic systems. My taxes help fund the government. I use banks. I can’t avoid plastic.

SK © 2014

SK © 2014

But I want my life to churn on love. I don’t want to add momentum to this toxic mix of warfare, injustice, disease, violence, and pollution. However, I am not so idealistic to believe one individual can dismantle whole systems. I could make gargantuan efforts and still never budge a cog in the wheel.

There are always some people who complain of having no power, no voice. Certainly that’s true. But the nasty, corrupt, disgusting parts of our flawed system will never listen to your voice or empowerment, even if you speak loudly. Speak to them on their terms—on that ground, you have more than enough power. The systems don’t operate on terms of love and integrity.

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”
~ Alice Walker

I agree with Walker, but only because she frames the idea in terms of people, rather than one person in isolation. History proves that the directed efforts of many individuals can topple entire systems. Alternatives matter.

We must operate on the terms of the system—money. The power is in your wallet. Your financial choices. Whatever size your wallet, you have plenty of power in our economic system.

Think green. SK © 2014

Think green.
SK © 2014

In Einstein’s famous equation, energy is equal to mass multiplied by the square of the speed of light. The speed of light is 186,000 miles a second (671 million miles an hour). Squared: 34,596,000,000 miles2 per second2…whatever.

The point is, however small the mass, its potential energy is far, far greater. I think of an action, or a choice, as mass. Its implementation by us creates its energy. We, in whatever collective we create, function as the c2 in the theory of relativity—we have enough power to energize anything.

I am far more encouraged by foundational, pervasive shifts on the level of individuals. It matters not what we do, but how consistently.

 “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free
that your very existence is an act of rebellion.”

~ Albert Camus

Mindful choices can begin to restructure the world. We are empowered in all moments to take responsibility for ourselves. And so we can strive to exist outside of some the mechanisms of those systems, as constructively and sustainably as possible.

Three months after the Fukushima meltdownGermany decided to end all nuclear power by 2022. Soon after that, Italy, having not had nuclear power since 1990 voted not to construct planned nuclear reactors.

The “Whole Foods effect” is known as a change in property values. But I have also noticed it as a change in inventory of other grocers. Before Whole Foods was in Atlanta, I never found non-dairy milk in chain grocery stores. But once they lost business to WF, they began carrying more specialty health items. In other words, I doubt Publix, Kroger, or Wal-mart sells soy milk not it cares about vegans. Those stores sell soy milk because they don’t wish to lose money to competitors who do.

Borrowing another food analogy—you are what you buy. But just as much what you don’t. Imagine if people stopped eating fast food. Or packaged “food products.”

I don’t eat fast food. I try to eat only organic. When I first decided to do so, my first concern was not being able to afford more expensive food. Obviously, non-organic is cheaper, and I would have more money if I ate GMO crap.

The financial squeeze became an excellent catalyst to find abundance in other ways. For the past few years, I’ve hardly bought any clothes, even though most of my closet is new within that same span. Why? Swaps with my friends.

My point is, vote with your life. You don’t have to be an activist to make a difference. Dismantling the system doesn’t necessarily require Thoreau-style civil disobedience. You have a choice, always, among many options. You don’t have to do everything. But everything can change if we all do something. Small actions matter; we are leaves on the same tree.

I’ve detailed some of what I do in another post. You can grow your own food, or even just herbs in a window box. You can bring your own bags. Carpool. Dumpster-dive. Use cash. Homeschool. Turn off the TV more often.

In other words, occYOUpy. Your choice how. I can’t live with myself unless I know I’ve done everything I can to live—not just speak or preach or write—my truth. I constantly scrutinize my lifestyle decisions because I want my life to reflect my conscience.

“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change.” ~ Gandhi

Live your life, the one you choose, consciously. Day by day, moment by moment, breath by breath. My hope is we all live the new paradigm, new economy, new earth. now. Our choices matter, and they are the destiny of us all.

SK © 2014

SK © 2014

SK © 2014

Posted in community, environment, identity, nature | 6 Comments