Monday, October 24, 2011

Choir Practice

From the Church of Earthalujah, Reverend Billy Talen and The Stop Shopping Choir.

Everybody knows I love Rev Billy. I love most everything about Occupy Wall Street, too.  I became troubled, though, after I recently joined a Facebook group called Parents for Occupy Wall Street.

First, let me say that the people in the group seem well-intentioned, earnest, dedicated and willing to work hard. They organized a sleep over in the park for their kids, who were mostly between the ages of two and ten years-old or so. By all accounts, the event was well attended and well received. The Sanitation and Town Planning groups at OWS worked overtime to prepare a kid zone, and those efforts left the park more organized for everyone.   There was face painting and a local "celebrity" children's musician gave a little concert.  All good - if you have young children.

Reading about the final preparation for this event in the Facebook group, in addition to discussion threads on other topics, it sounded as if these parents, like many parents of young children, were so involved in their own experience of parenting very young children that they had apparently forgotten that those of us with older kids still count as parents. Like they hadn't realized that a ton of parents are supporting Occupy Wall Street when they're paying the cell phone bills for all the Twenty-somethings occupying cities across the nation. Let's not forget the "Parent Plus" student loans many folks are paying back while their kids are unemployed. Seems to me that the parents of those young women who got maced by Officer Bologna are surely supporting Occupy Wall Street.

I wrote a private message expressing my concern to the woman who has been managing the Facebook group because I thought she should know why I felt excluded from Parents for Occupy Wall Street even though I've spent 25 years in Early Childhood Education. I was compelled to use all the letters behind my name, as well as my blogging creds with Roundtree7 and Worldwide Hippies.  But my feelings were hurt.

I did not mention that there are plenty of reasons to work for peace, economic justice and sustainability whether a person has kids or not.

This thing with the Parents illustrates a larger issue regarding Special Interest groups within the movement.  Certainly parents of young children are a subset with specialized concerns - just like people who are African American, or LGBT, or who have Aspergers or Dyslexia, or who are faced with immigration issues. Whatever - we all have our individual voices, and those voices all surely belong in the choir of the 99%.

Sometimes, the tenor may sing a solo, for example, but then the voices blend again. It's the same with an orchestra when the violins are featured for a few measures, for example. Even though our voices sound different, it's the spirit inside us that moves us to sing.

We all share that same spirit. When we isolate ourselves into special, separate interest groups, we run the risk of becoming disconnected from the common, human spirit that unites us all. Especially when people are so attached to their individual identities that a divisive element is introduced - as is often the case with Religious Extremists of all varieties.

Nobel Laureate Tawakkul Karman, an activist from Yemen, spoke eloquently and passionately with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! about the drive toward Democracy in her country (  She was in town talking talking to the UN and specifically asked for the people of the Untied States to back up her people in this struggle.

From where I sit, she looks like one of the 99% too.  Yes, her voice is strong and she represents a whole lot of people working to assert their human rights.  Maybe that looks different in their neighborhood than it does in mine. But when Tawakkul speaks, you can feel the human spirit soaring from her.  We all deserve peace, economic justice and sustainability, and no group is more deserving than another.

One of the Parents for Occupy Wall Street suggested that they become a working group as part of the General Assembly.  I suppose that's the appropriate protocol for any special interest group who wants a voice in the GA.  I'm still learning about the evolving, horizontal decision-making process at OWS, but I have faith that the community will find the right path.


Blogger Jim said...

Great video, and of course, great post. Again, I thank you for being a part of this. It's time to tear down the walls.

October 24, 2011 at 9:52 PM  
Blogger PENolan said...

My mom always says that the fax machine - not Ronald Reagan - brought down the Berlin Wall since people on either side were finally able to talk with each other.
I'm hoping the internet is the technology that lifts us from our isolation to take down the invisible wall.

October 24, 2011 at 11:19 PM  
Blogger Rubye Jack said...

Boy, the times they have changed.

October 24, 2011 at 11:35 PM  
Blogger Sandy White said...

Great post! I loved the video, and the orchestra analogy. We need to keep reaching out to all segments of the 99%. Each is important, like every instrument in the orchestra, and the groups they are part of may get a brief solo.

October 25, 2011 at 12:04 AM  
Blogger Oso said...

We never stop being parents,do we? My girls are 31 and 27 and the love certainly hasn't changed, though the level of conversation has. Never talked baby talk, or did the third person so may seem to do. 'Mommy doesn't like that' or 'stop hitting Daddy'.
I guess at my age, it's probably to be expected that I see the kids, yeah the kids at occupy movements the same way I see mine.
I respect them, am grateful for them, fear for them.
They say Oakland may be hit tonight, working OT till early a.m. but trying to keep track.
Take care

October 25, 2011 at 12:21 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

With coffee, I've found a common sense inspired eye opener here and it moved my heart too.... It did not occur to me that parents are out there watching via KO or Dem Now, perhaps that small iencie glance on MSM of their children. In a crowd. Standing up for a cause against the established authority. That they are at risk; potentially. Just like any who are standing through the night right now. Anywhere in the world where the word OCCUPY is on a placard sitting next to someone. I did not think of the family, I've only thought of the best of us who are right now stomping their feet for warmth in Fuccotti Park. Ta, appreciated for the wake up.

October 25, 2011 at 7:57 AM  
Blogger Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

Another great example of your level-hjeaded, and acute, analysis.
Nice work!
I'm gonna put the vid, and a link on Blogito!

October 25, 2011 at 9:23 AM  
Blogger VV said...

Very good post, a lot of insight. I never stopped to think about the sub-group interests, I just thought of them all working together. Thanks for the insight.

October 25, 2011 at 11:23 AM  
Blogger PENolan said...

Thanks, friends. I'm getting so much out of being down there that it's nice to know others are getting something from it too.

Al, I have to confess there were a few times I reverted to the third person and said, "Mommy needs a Valium." Frankly, though, I think that can be excused when you consider the things Velvet has pulled.

October 25, 2011 at 3:35 PM  
Blogger Cali said...

@Oso- I never spoke to my son in baby talk, either. From the night he was born I always spoke to him just as I would speak to you today. I always just assumed he understood me, and to this day, I believe he did. He began to say simple words @ four months, and I haven't been able to get him to shut up since. He was a "failure to thrive" baby and was very undersized for his age. I thought a woman at the grocery store was going to have a heart attack when he said, "Hi!" to her. She grabbed me by my shoulders and spun me around and shreiked, "That newborn baby just said 'hi' to me!" I blinked and said, "Yeah, he's quite chatty." He was using complete sentences by 14 months. Every report card he ever got mentioned his "chattiness" or "excessive talking," etc. He's now 26, and he can still out-talk anyone on the planet. I had really looked forward to the "silent" teen years, but it never happened.

Trish, that song gives me goosebumps every time I hear it, and sometimes brings tears to my eyes because of how much free reign our government has given the rich to keep getting richer, all the while taking more and more of our rights as citizens away. This is our chance. If we don't get fairness restored, it may never happen. We ARE the people we have been waiting for!

(Word verification: haphype. I don't know if I've seen much happy hype, but I'll look out for it now! Or, perhaps it's like hip-hop, only different?)

October 25, 2011 at 3:57 PM  

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