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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

Connecting from the heart

November 7, 2011
michael johnson
Body paragraph
For awhile, at least, I am going to return to one theme over and over and over in relationship to the Occupy Movement: if we want "an economy that puts people first", then we are going to have to learn how to see and hear each other deeply-face-to-face, locally, globally. More than that, actually. We have to learn how to allow ourselves to be seen by others and to hear from them what they see.

Gandhi put it another way: "We have to become the change we want to bring to the world."

I emphasize learn because we don't know how to become the change, and therefore we don't fully know what is the change we need to bring to the world. We come fully equipped to love and cooperate and to see and hear each other, and we do it to some extent. Sometimes we have quite profound experiences of doing this. However, as children we have been enculturated into cultures grounded far more in violence and fear than love, cooperation, and partnership. Now as adults our livelihoods and relationships are embedded in these deeply conflicted cultures. Our hearts are not dead, just very enclosed. So we sense very deeply that something is very, very wrong with our worlds.

The biggest obstacle the Occupy Movement is up against is not the 1%. What's wrong is far deeper than the economics and politics of our worlds. I think most of us can connect economics and politics to cooperating, and even to loving. Not so many of us can connect them to seeing and hearing each other with full attention and deep presence. Yet, we love others and cooperate with others only to the extent that we see them and hear them compassionately. To the extent that we aren't seeing them we are loving something we are projecting.

This kind of seeing and hearing can be painful. It involves raw, tender hearts opening up to what is before us, and sometimes that involves being touched deeply by "the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself."[1] Few of us are prepared for the pain of such encounters. Yesterday, I drew on R D Laing to touch on the living death-in-life and the overwhelming power of the massive acquiescence that entrenches domination in our lives. This consequence, which is the core political problem, comes from us withdrawing into our cocoons to protect our tender hearts.[2]

Over millennia it has become "a general and universal physical fear so long sustained by now that we can even bear it." (Emphasis added.) The downside of our adaptiveness. Maybe our greatest fear is pretty specific. If I open my heart and show myself so that I can see and get you, I may hear things back that I dread. Or, I might see things in you that I dread having to say to you.

It's hard. It's tough. But Faulkner says "that the basest of all things is to be afraid." Not to feel fear, but to cave to it. What he said to the young writers of his time in his speech relates directly to us Occupy activists. Caving to the fear means living lives

not of love but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, and victories without hope and worst of all, without pity or compassion. His griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars. He writes not of the heart but of the glands.

[1] All the quotes-except for the Gandhi quote in this blog are from what may be the only speech William Faulkner delivered in his life, but it is an awesome thing of a mere 540-words. Faulkner Nobel Prize speech,

[2] Shambhala: the path of the warrior, Chogyam Trungpa.

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