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The Spring of our Hopeful Discontent

By       Message Gershon Siegel     Permalink
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"Let's save pessimism for better times."            
-- wall graffiti remarked upon by Eduardo Galeano at the 2001 World Social Forum in Porto Alegre

Spring, the most hopeful of the seasons, is also the most dangerous. Nature's life force, seemingly crushed under Winter's death grip, bursts forth in a frenzy of countless strategies focused solely on starting afresh. Spring's fixation on renewal gives no pause to measure the nurturing potential of any particular space. Untold numbers of seeds fall where they will, whether in moist fertile soil, desert sands or asphalt crack. Countless buds break into blooms, oblivious as to whether or not the last killing frost has come and gone.

Even in its modern estrangement, humanity still responds to Nature's unstoppable force spraying Her regenerative energy, shooting blind without thought of results. Raw creativity explodes in all directions for the shear joy of expressing itself. Spring 2012, like all other Springs before it, brings a palpable sense of a new beginning, a new possibility. Who cannot feel hopeful in the face of such an invitation?

Which is not to say that we in the Northern hemisphere aren't still trying to cast off Winter's contractive inertia. One need only look at the ongoing miss-readings of the Occupy Movement's pulse by the Daily Broadcast. Pundits of all stripes interpret the Occupy's Winter regrouping and internal movement building as proof of its demise. Those prematurely dancing with the most glee on Occupy's grave are those most in denial of how fatally flawed is the system that it protests.

As our system continues to fail, throwing ever more of us out of fulfilling work, out of our health, out of our homes, out of connection to each other, denial continues to lose its sex appeal. No longer the optimal response in a world literally dying for humanity to engage its brilliant, flexible thinking to solve some of the ominous problems it's created for itself, denial appears more like a collective death wish than a river in Egypt. In the Spring especially, such a negation of life becomes obvious.

The ranks of Occupy will continue to swell as more of us come to understand that our system doesn't work for the majority of those participating in it. Every day more of us see the need for a full-throttle stop as the current system's nuclear powered battle ship sails full steam ahead toward Port Apocalypse. A wider spectrum of citizenry now realizes that a mere course correction is not enough.

In anticipation of the ever broadening Occupy participation, thousands of its veteran members, in dozens of local Occupy locations across the country, have been meeting throughout the Winter, building community, expanding the dialogue, educating each other, taking direct actions, getting arrested, and brutalized by America's mounting paramilitary police force. Of course such determined brutally to put down Occupy protestors assures an equally determined invigoration of the movement. Our system is having its own Syrian President Bashar Assad moment. Might the "The American Spring" be upon us?

Call for May 1 Nonaction/Action
For the past several months Occupy has been organizing for a general strike for May 1. A call is out for all citizens to remember their own humanity. For just one day, Occupy is asking everyone to occupy his or her life without distraction. In the absence of work, school, chores or even shopping, a general strike includes everyone taking the streets and occupying them with friends and neighbors, fellow workers or classmates.

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The intention of a May 1 General Strike is to show the solidarity that Occupy enjoys with the vast population, demonstrating its the power and depth. This action is a counter force to a system that cannot tolerate such a demonstration without showing its dehumanizing brutality. Just weeks into its birth last Fall, 60% of the citizenry agreed with the general sentiments of Occupy Wall Street. Perhaps not since the hoopla over hoola hoops, has a social movement caught fire so quickly.

Unlike false-commodity driven fashion frenzies however, the popularity of Occupy is political and philosophical, rejecting the whole notion of "commodity." We are all products of a system that has trained us to consume. On May 1st, Occupy is calling for a one-day suspension of that training. Aside from the economic unfairness inherent in our system, those joining Occupy are realizing that there is more to life than producing, selling and consuming the commodities the system doles out for the sake of its own survival.

Our system's only function is to dispense commodities for short-term gain and it worries not a wit for a commodity's necessity or usefulness. It is blind to how much planetary degradation is created in the making of that commodity. It cares not for sustainability or even durability. In fact, as far as the system is concerned, the ideal commodity is one that falls apart as quickly as possible so that it can dispense another commodity.

The Occupy Movement is peopled by those awakening to a belief that there has to be a better way to organize society than slavery to a corporate state. Such organization starts with creating parallel institutions that empower people next to the old ones that deny power. What better way to begin building those empowering institutions than by helping to organize for this May 1st General Strike?

The first and easiest thing to do is to work with your local Occupy. There are hundreds of Occupy locations around the country. To find one near you google occupy and the name of the city in which you live. Most of them have a website or a Facebook page and most post the minutes from their General Assemblies. Attend the next one and find out what real Democracy looks like.

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Other steps to empowerment include spreading the word on social media. You can go to or!/OWSMayDay and post those items you think are vital.

Take action on your own by starting an Affinity Group. Find a few friends who are interested in helping you with a project you have in mind -- whether it's making fliers and literature to distribute, or shutting down a Wall Street bank in your hometown. Go to wher e you can freely download posters from the worldwide Occupy movement.

You can also join the General Strike Conference calls at This site hosts regular calls to organize May 1st activities. The public is invited to check out their schedule and join in the conversation.

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Gershon Siegel published and edited Sun Monthly in Santa Fe, New Mexico from 1995 through 2008. He still lives in the Santa Fe area and writes features for Santa Fe One Heart (

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