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21 days in May: An Occupy Novella, part 2

Chicago was adopting something of a siege mentality as the NATO summit and protests loomed ever closer. It certainly wasn’t the protesters dialing up fear and concern. There had been in recent weeks a purposeful effort to intimidate the population, painting the protests as dangerous and the authorities as protectors. The effort began slowly in February and by the end of April had grown to a near fever pitch. The authorities, state, local, Federal and private corporate interests would manage and stoke that fear with their propaganda wing at FOX, CBS, ABC and even the so-called liberal MSNBC.

It began with leaked reports that downtown businesses would be hiring increased security for the protests, the reports punctuated with images from unrelated riots in Seattle some years earlier. Then came near panicked interviews with police officials clamoring for emergency funding from a cost-overridden city hall to make sure the police all had expensive new protective riot gear. Commuters would be subject to search and trains could be diverted or stopped altogether for “security concerns.” Boats in the harbors would be prohibited as the city became an armed camp. Then, at the end of April the fear was raised to insidious levels, first with front page headlines that downtown Chicago was now considered a “RED ZONE,” and that heavily armed federal agents in riot gear would be guarding strategic  buildings. The next day the local CBS affiliate published a “leaked” memo revealing how Red Cross officials in Milwaukee were preparing for the possible evacuation of Chicago in the event of an insurrection during the NATO summits. No one, in the media at least, questioned the rationale or what possibly would cause a city of eight million to flee en masse, not to the suburbs, nearby Joliet or Gary Indiana in such a catastrophe, but 90 miles North to Scott Walker’s Milwaukee Wisconsin. 

Angelo studied his smartphone, tapping on an MSNBC story emailed to him overnight. His eyes moved across a stunning headline that left him even more conflicted about his part in all this.

  “…agents have arrested five people who were plotting to blow up a bridge near Cleveland, Ohio… Douglas L. Wright, 26, Brandon L. Baxter, 20, and Anthony Hayne, 35, were arrested by members of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force on April 30 on charges of conspiracy and attempted use of explosive materials to damage physical property affecting interstate commerce. Also arrested were Connor C. Stevens, 20, and Joshua S. Stafford, 23. Charges are pending… of Hayne, Stafford and Baxter, there were claims that they were affiliated with Occupy Cleveland, which moved swiftly Tuesday to distance itself from the bridge plot… after “we awoke to the news of the arrests,” coordinator Johnny Peskar, 22, told msnbc.com… “We don’t need any implications in this nonsense,” Peskar said… Occupy organizers had seen a few in the plot hanging around earlier events, but their actions were “autonomous,”

He set down the phone and went to the long mirror by the door. Six years in special forces and 4 more as a military contractor with a for-hire firm had placed him is some odd and morally questionable circumstances, but none more than this.  This mission left him awake nights, praying for the respite of nightmares in sleep instead of the nightmare he was living.

He still looked like a college kid, and could pass for his early twenties. Angelo had let his dark brown hair grow long, nearly to shoulder length. His clothes were rough and urban and worn. His cover was a simple one, which was always the best-less to remember that way. Facts and dates were mixed or altered should anyone go prying. He looked the part well enough, but there was something else.

The mission was taking a toll. He appeared haggard and exhausted, which did not lend themselves to a successful mission. But what of the mission? In Afghanistan in a beard and local garb, Angelo passed sufficiently to infiltrate a Taliban group. He tracked a FARC leader in Columbia for  six months without being detected, and was able to worm his way into a Mexican drug lord’s inner circle. Never before had he been asked to spy on fellow Americans, which was bad enough. But this, this mission…

Angelo glanced at the paper he’d been slipped the day before at the protest. He had never seen the contact. The man came and went like a ghost. Now he found himself balanced on a fence, weighing ethics, morality and salvation. They were an operative’s worst obstacles. He thought of the mission once more as he went to the sink and poured a chemical mix over the paper, dissolving it almost instantly. He washed it down the drain with water and recalled the headline from Cleveland that morning.

Nineteen days and it would all be over. Nineteen days and the mission would be complete. Nineteen days and the nation would be forever changed. Angelo steeled himself and nodded resolutely. In the end he made it about the money. He’d made  a shade over a million tax free as a military contractor-the ultimate welfare scheme he sometimes mused to colleagues. Another half million would be deposited in an off shore account for him following a successful conclusion of the mission. Other missions were for country, unit or to bring down truly reprehensible people, but this would have to be about the cash, and that would have to suffice.

 

 

The train, bus and three block walk to he and Eva’s bungalow on Chicago’s Northwest side left Jack beaten. Eva wasn’t home yet with Jeffrey. The house was still and comfortable and peaceful. He practically collapsed onto the chair in the front room. He still had on his jacket and hat. The shoulder bag was in his lap, as if he’d striven for that chair with his final ounce of energy.  Morris, their lumbering Boxer/ Boston Terrier mix, normally a pest for attention, seemed to understand well enough. He sort of flopped to the floor at Jack’s feet and laid his head across one shoe with a heavy sigh.

The family still wasn’t completely settled into the place, and a daunting list of projects left Jack all the more spent. The phone rang, and he hardly had the energy to lift it, let alone answer. He hit the speaker key and let it go to voice mail

“This is Jack, lean Left,” came his recorded message. After a short pause Angelo from Occupy replied.

“Hey, Jack, wanted to know if you could get together later. I have something I need to discuss with you. You’ve got the number. Call me back.”

Jack sighed and  let the phone fall to his leg. He’d been meaning to get back into the movement, especially now as the NATO summit neared. He liked Angelo, at least what he knew of the kid.  Every movement attracted its share of oddities; Occupy, Socialist groups, anarchists, The Tea Party, and certainly the Ron Paul devotees. Angelo seemed like a normal fellow, well informed and adjusted and, for as much as Jack could tell, passionate about the cause. He thought about Sarah as he lifted the phone and found Angelo’s number. As it began to ring at the other end, he was already crafting his sincere apology to her.

“Hey, Angelo, its Jack,” he began. “Brutal day at work, sorry I couldn’t pick up before. Still want to get together?”


Staging a Novel: Vision versus Art

I am better than two thirds through a working draft of The Last Man, with a goal to stage it within the next year. It is interesting re-envisioning something like a novel for theater. There  are the mechanical aspects for one. The novel takes place in my head, moving among expansive and detailed scenes and vistas. In the novel there are shocking battles among the sewers of   futuristic city, chases along city avenues, the great rubbish archives, the Arctic seascoast with the massive city skyline, the Dante-esque breadth and madness of the Reclamation center, the final battle there, and the open sea. It is easy to fling readers through those other worlds,  but the  stage is far more intimate. It draws far greater barriers limiting those huge and complex vistas, focusing the story upon the characters and dialogue.

The novel describes a world in which a single corporation controls the planet with an iron fist, rummaging in each “associates” thoughts as a means of ultimate control: SENTINEL SPIES, SECTION-21 PUNISHES, THE CORPORATION DECIDES. Production is the imperative. Those who do not or cannot produce any more are “reclaimed” from society. Race, religion and individuality have been eliminated, as relics of a so-called chaotic and unproductive past. In this constructed illusion of racial homogeneity, a black child is born. Studied by the corporation as a means of future prevention, the child, now a man, is put on trial.

The main character in the book is a man. As I began the script, I was still intending a man in the part. Then something truly revolutionary occurred. Last Christmas I wrote and produced my first play “Occupy My Heart: A revolutionary Christmas  Carol,” with  an amazing cast and a hot-shot your director. The play received national media attention and saw standing room only audiences for its limited run.  All of the cast from that play went on with their own projects. One of then,  a stunning and gifted African American actress named Donier Tyler, was giving a performance back in March that showed this amazing depth of power. Watching her that night, I had a revelation.  

By then the novel had just been released. As I was watching Donier, I was suddenly struck that The Last Man, not only could, but should be a Black woman! as the subtext of the novel is to assail systems of power and oppression, casting a black woman, a strong black woman in the role seemed the ultimate realization of the story. Last night, rehearsing a scene that Donier and I will perform at an Art show on April 28 here in Chicago Donier found her Black woman’s voice for the piece, bringing a stunning dimension to the work.

What I discovered was that we all live deep within assumptions and paradigms. We understand other perspectives and experiences from the bottom of those assumptions and paradigms. Throughout, from the novel to the stage, the work was intended to escape the assumptions and paradigm of growing up as a white male in the society. It continues to be an exploration and a catharsis about the limits of my own experience.

The story is changing and evolving in ways I could hardly have imagined. What emerges I think is the space between creator and audience, and how what we create remains only ours until we realease it to the world. From that moment, it ceases to be ours. It becomes community. It becomes a negotiation between our assumptions and paradigm with and against those of others, hich may well be the real power of art.


The Black on Black violence myth and Trayvon Martin

It isn’t that racists are for the status quo, but that the status quo is by nature racist by supporting systems resulting in oppression. Mythology created by assumptions, outright fabrications or lazy intellectualism is the cornerstone for those systems, creating the cultural foundations for oppression arising from the pressure and imperative of the so-called status quo.

If that sounds overly precise and academic, it was meant to be. Given the lawyerly and subversive tactics of true racism today, those opposed to it must be as precise as possible in their opposition. But once that mythology takes hold and becomes “common knowledge,” challenging those assumptions can become monumental. The mythology surrounding the Trayvon Martin case is telling.

The status quo culture is constructed to undermine and negate issues and events exactly like the death of Trayvon Martin. Think of a river with momentum more than will. Diverting the river becomes an incredible, often impossible task. The river resists change, in favor of its own blind momentum.. The river that is American culture reflects the dominant power, which is primarily money and commerce, but also historically and primarily white and male. It is not racist on purpose, but most definitely racist in structure as it eschews or erases the individual nature of minority groups. Can’t picture it? Walk into any IKEA and feel your individuality erased as you become quite purposely an identity-less consumer. Now imagine an entire system, 24 hours a day, in every direction you turn designed to erase your individuality.

On yesterday’s Thom Hartmann show, Hartmann, a progressive talk show host, did not challenge a statement by Alan Korwin from gunlaws.com, in which Korwin wanted to know why everyone was so concerned about Martin but “there wasn’t a single story about 70 other black men killed” in black on black violence over the same period.”  This has been the loud and forceful narrative from the Right, and has gone all but unchallenged from the Left.

The nightly news and newspapers routinely carry these stories. Indeed, especially in Chicago, the Right passionately describes inner city violence to assail Obama’s, Jesse Jackson’s and other civil rights leader’s credibility. It isn’t that no one is reporting on those stories, but rather, no one is paying attention anymore. Life for life, all of those whose death receives only peripheral attention are equally as important as Trayvon Martin. All of their circumstances should be equally shocking in a better world. The importance of Trayvon Martin lies not in the context of those other tragedies, but rather of the supreme injustice with which his death was handled in the media and by the authorities.

That the status quo culture and media were so quick to negate that injustice points to the dangerous and inhuman momentum of the river. That millions were able to rise up and lend their voices to a cry for justice, and divert that river, even a little should be cause for hope. It should give us hope that it can carry the culture towards the ocean and greater truths, rather than allow it to die polluted in its mad run to the desert.


The Twenty Year Siege-Part 2

Eleven thousand five hundred forty-one red chairs. There were eleven thousand chairs arranged from curb to curb down Titova Boulevard in central Sarajevo. I enjoy theater and could have swelled at such a display if not for the terrible symbolism behind the display. Eleven thousand red chairs to memorialize the eleven thousand Sarajevans killed during the war. I still recall those days, the morning after a battle or following an attack. The siege hit civilians the hardest. And for the cynics-and there are scores- even among those fighting from the beleaguered trenches around and within the city, most were civilians pressed into a desperate 31/2 year fight to protect their families, save the city and maintain what feeble supply opportunities could be found to sustain the slowly strangling city of 300,000.

Ana. My Ana, was a child of 15 when the war began, still struggling with her own identity in the best of times. Fifteen. An age filled with the naive but eager assertions of emerging adulthood, but imbued and tethered deeply to the innocence, curiosity and vulnerability of childhood. And so she was thrown into the ultimate construction of human cynicism and cruelty, emerging in the incongruous and unsatisfying strangeness of adulthood and something called”the end of the war.”

I won’t call it peace. Peace is a fraud. It is not the end of war, because wars do not end, except for fools and politicians. war only changes character. The dead are still dead. The scarred and still forever scarred. Only the character of war changes, receding as embers to a half buried fire to smolder in the hearts whom it has affected or ruined. 

She cried all day Friday, lamenting and commiserating with friends and family back in Bosnia or scattered by the aftermath of war around the planet to strange and foreign cultures.  There was rage and sorrow, but mostly the injustice of what had been stolen from them. These modern accoutrements of Skype and Facebook make it more immediate for those commiserations and lamentations, but are only bandages to unalterably wounded souls. Ana’s friend Alma in Sarajevo summed it up succinctly, “I feel as if the devil was sitting on my shoulders all day.”

When I climbed aboard that Lufthansa 747 back in 1993, the siege was already better than a year old. I still did not know “my” Ana yet. Nor would I for another year.  I did at least realize that I was temporarily departing a home in Chicago for a war, and that if I made it home from the war I at least had a home and friends, a job and a culture to return to. war, that war, its true implications on personal levels was still very much an abstract, just as it was for all those watching 30 second sound bites and out-of-context reports on the nightly news.

I would never face the rationalization of choosing a new homeland because mine had been destroyed. On holidays, such as this one I would never longingly recall family holidays and reunions that will never occur again, because of those lost or refugeed across the planet. I would never search soulfully for purpose or justice or rationale to the fate that robbed me of my innocence, my dreams or my right to a life unaffected by what amounted to a meaningless tantrum over real estate that swept into cycles of vengeance and ultimately left much of that land unusable for centuries for millions of landmines.

The sun was setting as my plane lifted off from O’Hare that September evening back in 1993. The  future was unknown to me, but I was charting, at least in part my own fate-arrogance in the face of what was happening all across Bosnia. I understood that well enough, but would soon come to find that fate is hardly our own. As I gazed  at the photograph of those 10,000 red chairs in Sarajevo Friday, knowing the faces and names of a good many of those whom each empty chair recalled, that realization became all too apparent.


A LIBERAL CALLS OUT MSNBC: Moving the ball forward for the Right on election campaign reform

Generally, I enjoy Chris Hayes weekends on MSNBC, but I constantly must remind myself that Mr. Hayes, Ed Schultz, Rachel Maddow and the rest of their line-up are still part of the problem of corporate and power-elite-status-quo control of the discourse and messaging of critical national issues. While MSNBC is routinely “demonized” by FOX and pundits on the Right as far Left wing, it is not-by a long shot.

To support that, I point to the “buy American” push, particularly by Ed Schultz. Recall, this was a rightwing and nationalist mantra following NAFTA. Just as they did in the lead up to Iraq, MSNBC, for all their Liberal bent has missed the real solution to jobs in America and the necessary equitible trade worldwide, and that is not some pseudo-Ron Paul-esque economic isolationism, but forcing international corporations to adhere to wage and safety and pollution reforms regardless of where they are. If GE-owned MSNBC was truly as Liberal as the Right asserts, they would recognize first that mankind is global, and globalization was the direction of the species from those first steps from an African Valley 2 million years ago.

What prompted this article was a roundtable discussion on Chris Hayes’ Sunday morning show about the 2009 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling that allows Corporations, and Unions, to spend unlimited amounts of money to promote candidates and policy, effectively erasing the one man one vote cornerstone of our democracy by overwhelming free discourse through propaganda and false messaging.http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/08-205.ZS.html
With a decptively benign name like Citizens United, the group is in fact a filthy little cabal of Republican hacks in the vein of Andrew Breitbart, with a bias towards editing for innuendo over fact and truth. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizens_United_(organization)

That’s the background, but on this morning’s show Mr. Hayes had Jack Abramoff, the convicted lobbyist who was unequivical in saying that overturning Citizens United would never happen, because it is fundamental to Conservatives in this country. The statement went virtually unchallenged. Aside the traitorous acts committed by Mr. Abramoff, which did immeasurable damage to this democracy, why would MSNBC legitimize such a character? Because, at the heart of MSNBC is a large mult-national corporation, with significant interests in issues ner and dear to the true powers in this nation (Hint: It isn’t Right, Left, Libertarian or even American).

The Corporate media is overt and subversive alike in its crafting and molding of cultures and nations. It does so to create markets as to define and secure them.

Advertising creates ideals, standards and affirms stereotypes on one hand, while the media carries and promotes those messages. The recent purchase of The Weather Channel by NBC Universal, Bain Capital and The Blackstone Group highlights the effort of Multi-national Corporations and firms to devour media outlets and control what Americans sees, hears, discusses and votes upon. Blackstone bought Neilsen-the rating people in 2006 along with other partners like the Carlyle Group. Bain, by the way is owned by Mitt Romney, and owns Clear Channel, the largest owner of radio stations in the country. Its “news” talk format is 90% rightwing, with Beck, Savage, Limbaugh and Hannity leading that charge, despite that 90% of the country does not vote Republican. Bain also owns or invests in AMC Entertainment and Warner Music group.

So there is real pressure, and undeniable evidence that Liberal MSNBC is hardly a Liberal thinktank, but instead has slipped into a market not served blatantly by FOX as a means, not to promote Progressive ideals, but as a means, as prescribed by their corporate owners, to nudge the message forward far more subtley that FOX can do. But the effort is the same, and in the end it comes down to control-not politics.

The strategy is to create paradigms not cultures, as paradigms become absolute realities that are much harder to find alternatives to or see beyond. Imagine what it would be to breath fire, or breathe watter as a means of survival, and that air and wind could be as deadly as we find those others. Those are other paradigms. That is what corporations are evolving to in a greater and greater consolidation of power and influence. Think back over the last 50 or 100 years about where corporations were and where they are today, with interlocking partnerships and boards, and their ascent to controlling almost fully govenments worldwide.

Now imagine this paradigm. With all that power to control the message and assert culture, a group of people have challenged that by Occupy parks have the power elite absolutely terrified. Now that is a message!


Video of Marines Urinating on Taliban Dead…and here is why it is wrong.

I have a history with this, having witnessed the Mock execution of a Serbian POW in the mountains above Sarajevo in October 1994. The incident is detailed in my book, Everything for Love. I am certain the young man from the neighboring town of Trnovo was spared because of my presence. I also have no doubt he was taken elsewhere and executed. Without doubt the would-be executioner, an average sort in his mid to late thirties could recite chapter and verse about Serbian atrocities, and likely had one or more family, friends or neighbors killed, wounded or otherwise terrible affected at the hand of Serbs, whether intentionally and cruelly or as a consequence of the war. I could recite those acts as well, and had personally witnessed enough to justify reprisals against those “inhuman” Serbs.

Those would be judgements of the human heart, however, a tinderbox fully at the mercy of vengeance and our selfish soul. It is our intellect and reason, and a moral standard that upholds human dignity, selfless mercy and the standards of human rights-one that is bolstered by laws and ideals that sanction those who violate those laws and ideals.

It has been a point of study into the psychology of war atrocities. Organizing relief, I was fascinated by the utter inhumanity that Hutu neighbors, friends and even family turned on their Tutsi kin in Rwanda. I had looked into the eyes of an elderly man who was so friendly and hospitable to me and others, only to smile gleefully and draw a finger across his throat at the blindfolded young Serb. Study the faces of men and women captured on film at executions and other atrocious acts, and you will find mostly complacent stoicism, but enjoyment and satisfaction in others. Other times there is a tribal, animal sort of orgiastic frenzy akin to videos of great apes and chimpanzees brutalizing others of their species.

The filming and ritual of degrading enemy dead-civilian and soldier alike- is hardly new. There seems to be an impetus to document such deeds, like posing with an animal after a hunt. It is tribal and perverse, apart from the illegalities. Worse it is shameful and wrong for some very fundamental reasons.

Preeminent among those reasons is the very assertion of many in this nation that America is the greatest nation on the earth, the “shining city on the hill,” and “the last best hope for mankind.” How does an act such as this further than notion, or convince our enemies otherwise? And if we discount enemies and other nations, how does this act strengthen those notions for ourselves?

If we truly believe we are the righteous in this conflict, is this how the righteous act? Where does is say in the Bible that in war it is alright to desecrate the enemy’s dead? It is an immoral statement to justify such acts by pointing to the enemy, if not for the reason above, then on the premise that it lowers us to the level of an “immoral” enemy. We demand that police abide by laws, and must adhere to the constitution and civil liberties in those duties. No one reasonably argues that the police can act lawlessly when dealing with lawless criminals, i.e., summary street executions, bombings, lootings of suspect houses or the wholesale beating of say a shoplifter or car thief.

Many on the Right heralded and praised the act with the patently immoral and thoughtless lament that “it is war.” They would not have considered that excuse for Nazi death camp guards or Japanese soldiers during the Second World War. Those criminals were held to account, often at the cost of their lives. War is not a frat party with license for abandon. It is not a right of passage, and even if it was, a soul does not switch off the tribal act of desecrating enemy dead in such a way when they return to “peaceful” society.

I have seen firsthand how acts of violence in war-whether justified or not, resonate terribly well beyond war. These men crossed a terrible line, not just in the act, but in their soul, and by the witness of thousands, and perhaps millions, have pulled us across that terrible line with them.  War is not a time for boys to be boys. It should be an aberration from rational human interaction and conflist resolution. It is a terrible and evil necessity, one that a nation should align itself on the side of righteousness and the weak.

I fully comprehend the moral entanlgements and confusion in combat. I have been there. I also understand revenge. I understand the emotions in a battle that would compel one to desire the ultimate fate upon an enemy. That is the specter of vengeance and the unhinged human heart. i confess to those emtions(watching Serb s purposely fire antiaircraft rounds at a mother and two children). I also understand that the world is a harsher and far more dangerous place when we give ourselves fully to that unbridled hate.

In the end, for these three Taliban fighters, who espouse a world and belief system I am very much opposed to, and who I believe must be defeated, the fight was over when the life left their bodies. What those soldiers then did is the worst side of all Americans and was a filthy and unnecessary act that can only be defended by those who have never been to war, or those who are too filled with innate anger and hate to see past the storms of their own heart.


Occupy My Heart: The radio Show on Best of the Left

The Play that made national headlines, changed hearts and energized a movement is now available on Best of the Left at the link below:

 
Filled with heart and truth, Occupy My Heart: A revolutionary Christmas Carol is not just a story for the holidays, but a tale of our times. You will be touched in this modern retelling of the Dickens classic.

Please share it with your friends, especially those who still think the struggle of our times is not the co-opting of our great nation by corporate and financial greed.


Big government? Damn right. The biggest! Just fix it.

So the mantra from the right these days is that government is too big, and we must shrink it, not to make it more efficient, but so it can get out of the way of business.In the age of the highest corporate profits in human history that rhetoric is obscene. Fundamentally, that is an anti-American, anti-Constituional idea. Let’s set aside the argument that government exists because it has the power to do things individuals simply can’t do, like build a road, fight a war, enforce health and safety codes, maintain a justice system and get toilets to flush safely from coast to coast.

This nation is being duped into buying the perverse and dangerous idea that corporations are virtuous and wise, while government is corrupt, inept and out of control. Are they saying they’d happily trade corporate control for the United States government? Have they never seen a corporation go bankrupt? Go out of business? End pensions? Break the law?

Name me a single corporation that has existed as long as the US government? Name me a single one that acts as a democracy? Name one that voluntarily protects the interests of individual workers rights without those rules being imposed by government. Name one. That corporation doesn’t exist.

Without government, corporations would pollute the environment, abuse employees, and even murder labor activists http://www.nytimes.com/2001/07/26/international/26COLO.html?searchpv=day04&pagewanted=print . They would be free to pay employees the lowest possible or barely survivable wages with no benefits in dangerous environments. Get hurt on the job due to their negligence and you’re history, and so is your family’s future.

The problem with government is that the Democrats and especially the Republicans have allowed and facilitated the corporate stranglehold on government,  a crime promoted and repackaged in the pseudo-Press suppositories of FOX, CNN, MSNBC and talk radio, all of which are owned by significant corporations with huge interest in the outcome of this quiet coup.

The people can take it back, but they have to get smart, get organized, and defend a government large enough to defend a Constitution that was written for people not corporations.

What you really what, whether you realize now or later, is a government big enough not to get bullied by terrorists, rogue nations, competing nations, and least of all self-interested corporations. But it has to be a government humble enough to protect the homeless guy on the corner from being run off because he fell on hard times, or the millions of families faced with foreclosure

The Bush tax cuts for the rich (still in effect) have failed to generate the jobs Republicans and the rich promised would happen if those tax cuts continued. The government should be big enough to conclude a war and recognize the rights of minorities and the wrongly accused.

Big government? Damn right. The biggest! just fix it.


Art, Occupy and the Illusions of the One Percent

Achievers. The one percent. Winners. Those who are so adamant about not raising taxes on corporations the wealthiest in the nation would have us believe that there is some inherent quality, something unique and sacrosanct in this supposed talent. Set aside the responsibility to the nation fostering a nurturing environment for business(political and social stability, laws, courts, infrastructure, an educated and healthy populace) argument. Talents are for the arts, or sports, for positive intellect and in healthy and uplifting relationships. 

No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe;” wrote John Donne in meditations XVII, in 1624, “every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.”

Achiever is in itself an insult hurled at the rest of us by the selfish and greedy. It implies that the jobs we go to daily, the place we’ve arrived at in life is not an achievement. It screams that raising children, running a home, going to school, struggling with poverty, prevailing through an illness is somehow a lesser achievement. It presumes one person’s experience is greater than another’s. It pits one person’s struggle against another’s, which is a fool’s game.

Reverend Billy at the Occupy Chicago General Assembly Wednesday evening spoke about community and the responsibility of the 1%. One is indeed the loneliest number

The way it is used becomes an assertion of power and right and privilege. Their achievement is presumed to have value above all others. It is an assumption of rule and of a ruling class, which is antithetical to the declaration of Independence and of the Constitution.

It also betrays a lie the so-called achievers pretend to themselves. It is the ultimate lie because it ignores the very thing Donne wrote about. Life is impossible alone. A soul alone writing a novel relies upon the history making the computer usable, upon the society nurturing freedom of thought, of the luxury of not having to forage through the day for food, shelter and sustenance, and even of the craftsman who constructed the desk and chair upon which that novelist writes.

A month ago I wrote a play. I am proud of that play, but as such it is little more than a semi-interesting collection of two dimension words upon a page. In the coming weeks a passionate and talented cast will bring those words to life, moving them around in three-dimensional space, adding inflection and history and textures I would never have imagined. We will perform on a radio station, the play expanded and re-envisioned  by a producer who will add sound effects to create a new and as yet unrealized world. We will perform upon a stage built by dreamers who wished for a space that actors might create as yet unimagined works and as yet unwritten words. Those stages are maintained by electricians, lighting experts and others who make each performance possible.

Sadly, what has happened in America is that the one percent has all but convinced us that only the writer matters, and that all the rest should bow before them. The Occupy movement asserts a different reality, one consistent with the constitution, in which all citizens are imbued with a god-given dignity and that all of us have a responsibility to maintaining the greatest measure of human dignity that can be maintained. The limit placed on that dignity is a measure of the cynicism inherent in a heart.

No man is indeed an island, except in his own heart, and upon that island is loneliness and nothing more. There is an old pop song that says one is the loneliest number. If there is salvation from that loneliness, it must be among the 99%.


November 17, 2011 Day of Action…Occupy your freedom! Join a march. Organize. Put a sign in your car and in your window saying, “I am part of the 99%.” Call your senators, representatives. Flood radio stations with calls. Join a Credit Union. Let them know this is a country of, by and for the people, not the corporations and banks. And above all be outraged, but with love and peace and respect as your weapons and armor.


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