The Global Occupy Movement has spread to over 1,000 cities. As days turn into months, the number of people on the street steadily increases. Momentum seems to be building, not waning. The Occupation has arrived in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I think that what we are witnessing with this movement, and the corporate media reaction to it, is the cultural retirement party for an old social map printed in black and white, lacking the interactive apps of the new maps — whereas the Occupiers serve as a welcoming committee for the arrival of options, of other ways to be in this world. It would serve us well, we human types, to address this cognitive gap. I believe that it is not only possible to communicate with the cognitively impaired, but, as we have allowed them to run amok through the halls of power, it is now imperative that we do.
I googled “They made their point,” and “They should go,” and “Occupy.” This is some of what came up;
“They made their point—only I’m not sure if they knew what that point was—no one else did. Apparently, it wasn’t all that important at the time of the start of the movement .” – Steve Rose, blogger/cop
“They made their point. Probably about time to go home.” – Otto Maddox, self described dork
“Maybe it’s time for the children to go home. They made their point, and they can continue their protests and activism, but the time for the campout is over.” – Rob Port, angry person
“They made their point, people acknowledged it, now why don’t they go do something useful?” – some forum commenter, being useless.
“That’s the great thing about this country, you can stand up and say what you want, but I think they made their point,” – Asian businessman that joked to a cop, “Bring out the tear gas and call it a day.”
“They made their point now get out and get back to living. Lets stop this NOW.” – Rosie
“They made their point, but now, they are overstaying their welcome.” – Larry
“They made their point…Which is they have none…Why the press covers this story is beyond me…Just kill ‘em.Time to move on…” – LiberalsRDopes, angry person
“They made their point,” – Sgt. Limbert of the Mission Police Station
“They made their point but are now becoming irrelevant, ok….got your message, now go back to work, school or your bong, but stop costing taxpayers money that has to be diverted from other programs to police these love-ins.” – rjag, Angry Canadian
I’ll venture to say that “their point” has not been made, nor will it be for some time, because of the difference in the way in which one interprets what a “point” is. On the one hand, the occupiers come from a place of realizing the wisdom of sustainable growth. Conversely, the naysayers, rather than admitting an inability to grasp the meaning or implications of something new and different emerging in the political environment, invoke a cultural banishment spell (such as “They made their point”) to put it out of their minds. It’s a recusal from the dialogue under the premise of some higher cultural authority, or sense of “normalcy.” I think that is my favorite response to the Occupations, and I hear it often. It’s that irony thing that I like so much. It reveals a lot about the person that utters it, and the cognitive maps in play. The purpose of slogans like “They’ve made their point” is to reduce and marginalize anything seen as a threat to the status quo or their bourgeois personal identity — which often, in these types of cases, are one in the same. “You’ve made your point” used in the examples above, translates roughly into “I’m tired of hearing your nonsense, and/or I’m ill-equipped to respond intelligently.” It can be seen as a self-defense mechanism employed by a threatened creature. If seen this way, compassion for the opposition comes more easily.
The rhetoric of 99% vs. 1% has a use. Of course, a Movement of 100% would be really nifty for a bit, but not possible, nor desirable. For those “We’re-All-One” purists that have a problem with the divisive function of the 99% slogan, may I remind you of the Red Vs. Blue wedgie that has had us on our toes for the past decade? I’d say surgically cutting out a 1% cancerous tumor is a big improvement over chainsawing the country down the middle. There’s magic in taking out and isolating just one percentage point. For a moment, the 99% have an opportunity to imagine that their individual causes can be joined with a greater cause. I see the 99% icon as symbolic of dethroning a monarchy, or aristocracy. We are “in the meantime” now. This is the moment when power shifts.
This is not a protest, and the people are not protesters. This is, as the name implies, an Occupation. The Occupiers are not there to do anything as much as they are there because of what has been done. This is a direct consequence of unchecked greedy causes. The people that just want this to go away are afraid. Of course, there is the fear of the “1%,” the CorportateBankerLobbyistMedia cabal and the authorities that serve them. That fear says Mission Accomplished. But there is another fear, on the other end of the spectrum, a fear and anxiety around daring to hope that real, meaningful change in the consciousness of the human endeavor is possible. Maybe not everyone would describe it that way. Here’s another way: who doesn’t want to live a more authentic existence? If given a choice between surviving and thriving, what would you pick? We can have this discussion now, and those choices are available. Endeavoring to understand how we live in the world together is the new sexy. “OMG, did you see how huge her ethnobotanical-socioeconomic comprehension was? That was hot.”
There are a large number of Americans that want what we all want, they just don’t want it to be complex. This condition of narrowness, which manifests as various forms of fundamentalism, has little to no capacity for irony, metaphor, or a spectrum of possibilities. Yes or no, good or bad, black or white. Think binary. The neocon revolution was only made possible by the crass manipulation of the fundamentalist mindset. The spectrum of possibilities that color the Occupy movement gets lost in the monolithic shadow of Good and Bad.
It might be helpful to imagine a kind of cultural deafness that monotheists, fundamentalists, and the like, suffer from, and like many that suffer a diminishing of one capability, another capability is enhanced. Those that seem the most resistant and/or uninformed about our socioeconomic/sociopolitical situation, will be the ones that muscle the corrections through, once it becomes clear that that is what MUST be done. Meanwhile, they will defend what they “know,” right or wrong. They want no part in “maybe” or “perhaps.”
Some people can change their mind easily. Some can try on a philosophy and take it for a test drive, and then just as easily step out of it. For people like this, it may be hard to imagine how a fundamentalist operating system works. But it’s really pretty simple: fundamentalists identify themselves with their beliefs and ideas, which are defended as a part of the self. Asking a fundamentalist to see something from someone else’s perspective is like asking them to exchange their eyeballs. But what they lack in adaptive facility, they more than make up for in manual effectiveness. They get’er done. Finding an appreciation for the form and function of the fundamentalist portion of the 99% serves everyone.
If the intellectual elite and and the progressive left are the brains and heart of the country, then the fundamentalists and their kind are the muscle and bones. The muscle and bones want to respond to correct impulses that lead to their strengthening and growth. They are not concerned with why or how. The neocons led them along by dangling a bible on a stick for thirty years. I think the muscle and bones need to be treated better than that (and that doesn’t mean taunting them by dangling Dawkins instead). Like we have provided handicapped spaces for the infirm, and braille on the elevators and ATMs to accommodate the blind, let us endeavor to translate the complexity and beauty of this Occupation into a simple binary message for the cognitively impaired.
For those planning to become more directly involved in the overhaul of American representative government, as well as any other cultural overhaul that might be timely, might I suggest learning to speak Fundamentalist, as translators are desperately needed at this time. Many Americans suffer the same cultural ills but cannot coordinate to correct them due to cognitive incompatibilities. I don’t think we can expect our frightened dichotomous brothers and sisters to be the ones to initiate a broader understanding of our condition. Do you?