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actions & protests | faith & spirituality occupy portland

Occupy Portland: Creating Our Reality

We can no longer dance around difficult issues, or subjects of relative subjectivity. To deny an ultimate truth, is deny any hope or movement forward.
The time has come, as it has to in all social movements, to finally address the unspoken ideological division between many who claim they are united in common interest. I have been with the Occupy Portland Movement since the 2nd GA, and since then I have heard the repeated rhetoric that people should simply resolve the internal conflicts or quell them for the good of the common movement. Within this rhetoric there is an overarching false assumption implied within this reasoning, that "we are all here for the same purpose." Are we? This is a question that no one seems to actually be asking; yet clearly the answer of 'yes' has been assumed. I feel it necessary at this time to call out the ideological elephant in the room, and propose that the only way for the movement to actually move forward in a cohesive manner is to openly acknowledge and identify the clear differences in the motivations of everyone who seeks to have some sort of voice or presence within Occupy.

First and foremost we are not all here for the same purpose, and the most obvious explanation for this is that many of us come in with different values and ideologies, which inherently place us at times at odds with each other. The lack of discussion around these differences is most likely due in part to the fear of opening the preverbal Pandora's box. The box of endless political and ideological debate which often proves unproductive in a time and need for great unity. However, the time has come to ask whether or not all ideologies can truly be reconciled. Perhaps it is time to move past relativist extremism and ask the difficult questions. A productive social movement must be unified in both values and methods. Our means must reconcile with our ends, unlike the unjust systems in our society.

Nonviolence is not relativist, though there may be a spectrum of violence. Nonviolence is an ultimate reality that within it transcends the spectrum of violence through its commitment and dedication to restrain from harm doing in thought, word and deed. A movement, which seeks to create effective social transformation, must transform the hearts and minds of a people, not seek to destroy them. Those impatient for progress and who lack the will of restraint can neither transform nor change others to path of light. The path of nonviolence calls us to critically evaluate our methods and the ends with which we hope to create. It is a moral directive, it is a compass, it is love. If you love you do not harm. Life is not always so cut and dry, but nonviolence is the measuring rod with which we use to measure our intentions and actions through uncertainty. Anger is a powerful emotional indicator, but when channeled through hate it produces harm and unnecessary violence.

Moving away from relativist extremism, we must ask if there is an ultimate truth. The answer to this is yes and no. There are many truths, and each truth is a path created by conscious and unconscious choices, which in the end lead to an ultimate reality, end result, or consequence. The end to each path is the ultimate truth for that path, and when we become enlightened beings we begin to become more aware of our ability to influence the decisions and outcomes of such realities. There is a spectrum of truth, and though there are many different paths, there are but only two ends. There is an ultimate reality which is born out of life giving choices derived of love, compassion, empathy, giving, and nonviolence, and there is also an ultimate reality born out of life taking choices derived from unchecked anger, fear, violence, greed and hate. Our individual realities are connected in a great web of relationship. The path we choose will influence both our personal realities and the universal reality born of collective consciousness.

There are many ideologies, which exist, but the time has come to evaluate which ultimate reality these ideologies seek to manifest. If the reality we seek both individually and collectively truly seeks collective harmony, love and sustainability, then we must boldly reject ideologies, which reject a balance between self and community desire. An ultimate reality of sustainability requires balance, like the great web of life, all is held in delicate balance, when this balance is disturbed harm occurs. There are ideologies present which currently seek to place the 'self' as the center for all motivation, or only 'the collective'. Many of these ideologies mask their reality through rhetoric and calls for social change, all the while espousing methods for social change, which inherently contradict and undermine the very values of love, nonviolence, compassion, empathy, generosity, and sustainability.

We must not become paralyzed by relativist extremism. However, if we are to stand and reject ideology that is all we must reject. In line with the values of a life giving reality we must not reject people, and we must reject in a way that also reconciles our values. Boycott negative truths, and speak positive truths. Go the path of social transformation because a revolution is simply quick change made by oppressive force.