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Occupy Yourself: Action is the Antidote to Despair

Occupy Yourself: Action is the Antidote to Despair

 

As Iíve watched and read about the Occupy protests spreading around the world, Iíve found myself growing ever more optimistic that at long last, fueled by a combination of righteous anger, passionate concerns, as well as growing fears, we are waking up from a trance and are taking the necessary steps to create viable solutions to our complex, interconnected and growing problems.

Thereís a Star Trek episode called ďThis Side of ParadiseĒ in which a group of colonizers on a bucolic planet are drugged by the spores of a flower that make them wholly happy, yearning for nothing. When the starship Enterprise visits the colonists, the entire crew becomes exposed to the spores and abandons the starship to live a life of bliss on the planetís surface. Only Captain Kirk, loving his starship so much that his anger and fear served as an antidote to the spores, remains immune to the siren call of a life of ease. He manages to provoke and enrage Mr. Spock, his first officer, enough that the drugís effects wear off him, too, and together they come up with a plan to break the sporesí effects on everyone else. Freed from the sporesí power, the colonizers realize that they have done nothing on the planet in all the years theyíve been there. Recognizing, however, that heís taken away their seeming happiness, Kirk is compelled to soliloquize that we must struggle, work and face meaningful challenges to be fully human, arguing that this is our essential nature.

In this moment in history, we are witnessing a massive movement to face and solve huge challenges. Fueled in equal measure by anger, fear and a love of justice, freedom, democracy and our very planet, people are voicing their frustrations and expressing their ideas. Every single day this movement grows bigger.

As people gather in protest and longing; express their anger, as well as their thoughts for viable solutions to systemic problems; fill the streets of every major city; and embrace the challenge of creating true democracy, real peace, just economies and viable systems that safeguard our earth and the myriad species who reside here, the world is witnessing how anger and yearning can finally break the hold of apathy. When people face the loss (and potential loss) of access to the basic necessities of life, and when the vapid consumerist mindset that has kept them seemingly content no longer cuts it, they are leaving their entertainment centers (not so dissimilar from Star Trek’s ease-inducing spores) to work for change.

As the momentum continues to gather, the future (however bleak it may appear when we catalog the numbers of people living in poverty and slavery, or of animals becoming extinct, or the rate of global heating that exceeds scientistsí predictions), is less bleak with each passing day that more and more people peacefully gather and demand substantive, systemic change and offer well-thought-out solutions to the complex challenges we face.

What will keep this movement going and growing is the fact that it feels so very good to do something; that as Joan Baez once said, ďAction is the antidote to despairĒ; that the people who are taking to the streets are enlivened by the act of taking up this challenge. They are satisfying something deeply essential to human nature that Captain Kirk spoke of: the need to strive to meet a worthy goal. Most of the solutions to our grave challenges still remain hidden, but millions are coming out to seek them. And they are finding out how meaningful (and even in the midst of resistance, joyful), this can be.

That taking up this great work is so inherently rewarding is the greatest possible news for dark times. The satisfaction and joy people feel in coming together for a common purpose and a challenging task will fuel the eventual success of this global movement for justice, peace and restoration.

If you havenít joined this movement yet, in your own way, with your own voice and talents and style of action, donít delay. Ask yourself what you fear and what you love? What world do you want? What talents and knowledge do you bring to the table? What solutions can you come up with? Embody them. Do them. Share them. Youíll likely find your greatest happiness in the process and discover the depth of what it can mean to be fully human, fully engaged, fully committed to living your life with integrity and purpose.

óó-

Zoe Weil is the president of the Institute for Humane Education, which offers the only graduate programs in comprehensive humane education, as well as online courses, workshops, and dynamic resources. She is the author of Nautilus silver medal winner Most Good, Least Harm: A Simple Principle for a Better World and Meaningful Life; Above All, Be Kind; The Power and Promise of Humane Education, and Moonbeam gold medal winner Claude and Medea, about middle school students who become activists. She has given a TEDx talk on humane education and blogs. Join her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @ZoeWeil.

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Image courtesy of Mat McDermott via Creative Commons.

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28 comments

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8:00PM PDT on Oct 23, 2011

very well said, thank you!

10:52AM PDT on Oct 23, 2011

Thank you for this. Action is always the answer to despair or anxiety. (Although watching Star Trek usually helps, too!)

9:34AM PDT on Oct 23, 2011

Thanks

6:55AM PDT on Oct 23, 2011

I attended Occupy Victoria,BC/CANADA.I debated with myself whether to get out for another protest after all the years of being out on the front

6:52AM PDT on Oct 23, 2011

Thanks

7:48AM PDT on Oct 21, 2011

i love this artical now i have to go watch star trek

6:36AM PDT on Oct 21, 2011

I agree wholeheartedly with this sentiment.

8:14PM PDT on Oct 19, 2011

thnx for this

6:32PM PDT on Oct 19, 2011

I am marching with the 99%.

I went to DC in 2005 to join the 3000,000 strong march against Bush's illegal Iraq war, and he was the one who ordered, "Shock and Awe" ..killed tens of thousands of people, many innocent women and children, not to mention the fetuses. Lost 4,000 American Military service members. Spent our fortune. Said that we would be greeted with flowers and candy. And their oil would pay for his war. George W. Bush was incompetent, stupid, arrogant, and narrow minded. We will be paying for his and his cronies, Cheney, Rummy, Rove, etc. war for many years.

I will be working to for Obama/Biden in 2012.

4:04PM PDT on Oct 19, 2011

@ Mike C The comments were not anti Semitic. The BBG refuses to concede that ‘Semitic’ is an ethnic designation that includes Arabs and Jews and the languages Hebrew and Arabic. Jews of Khazar origin are not Semitic at all. The comments were not anti Jewish. Jews are a diverse group and many are as disgusted by Israeli crimes as gentiles. The comments are anti Zionist. Israel Today, and other Zionist spokespeople, prefer to cry “anti Semitic” because it sounds racist and bigoted and helps cover Zionist crimes.

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