Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Idea #2: Need Less, Redux

I should own almost all of these.
When this post was first written, it was the one that got us to Pay Cash.  It is the one idea that has stuck, that keeps the Occupy Movement top of mind for me most days. It has created a daily reminder of our limits. It is also a daily No Thanks to the banks and their fees and their not-so-great corporate structures that create a lot of not-so-goodness in our world. I like paying cash, a lot.

However, the title... the title haunts me.  Need Less.  I'm not sure that we need less yet. Certainly we don't want any less.

Two things are making me extra thoughtful about this this week. One was a post by my friend Rory where he differentiated between having a social conscience and doing social justice. The other was a conversation with a friend about how useless consuming is to fend off discontent. (I realize by the end of this post that I can't do the second part, so I don't, so probably that will be next week's effort... maybe.)

By Rory's definition, the ideas that I've come up with here are, for all intents and purposes, merely the outcome of a social conscience and while sweet and thought-provoking, they are ultimately useless (I should clarify here, Rory didn't actually say this - I am wondering if I think this after reading what he's written). Social justice on the other hand, is the part that actually matters, that actually ends with something different and new and Socially Good.

The thing is, I've done a bit of the social justice gig - I've put my body where my mouth is, and I've walked the walk and (insert cliche about not just talking here).  And while that was good and right in the moment, and while there is probably somewhere in the great state of New Jersey, something a bit different or new or Socially Good to show for my efforts, there is very little of it.  Now of course, that probably speaks mostly to my own personal  ineffectiveness and not to the global worthiness of pursuing Social Justice. 

And yet. 

And yet, as I think about the great Social Justicers of our time - how much better and different and new is anything? True, black men and women can vote in the United States now, and eat at any lunch counter they want.  But is Dr. King's dream realized? not so much if you read up on prison stats, or poverty stats or any other quality of life statistic. I could go on and on about the Great Fails of Social Justice, just because today, despite the best efforts of so many, the world remains so deeply, truly, appallingly Injust.

This sounds a wee bit cynical eh?

But less than you think - because I think one thing I need less of these days is success.  Less success at getting it right, less success at creating justice, less success at making a difference.  Success for me must remain a distance away I think.  Having a social conscience? it's less pressure. Maybe I'm a cheater - in fact, it's likely.  But the goal for me can not be to Succeed and Change The World.  It remains only to change me a tiny bit. Small acts in a slightly new direction will have to be enough.  I can't help but think that if there are enough of them, they might create some kind of critical mass that looks like Real Change this side of heaven that would be worthwhile.

Needing Less.  Less Success.  That's what I'm thinking about today.  Needing less success makes it easier not to quit oddly enough.

And you? three months after the initial Need Less post, what are you needing less of?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

An Observation (vi)

So that Christmas was something huh?

Christmas was what Christmas is: full and busy and contradictory and painful and wonderful and sometimes even joyful. It was family and friends and food and outrageous demands borne of outrageous expectation that is beautifully enough, borne of The Hope that started the whole thing.

That we all join in and do it over again in another year is testament to the Goodness that must lurk at its centre, surely.

The New Year has begun with a bang for my little occupied family and so we will call this (Pre)Occupied 2012, where we see what of our occupied living can survive the stormy seas that are our life for the foreseeable future. Because most certainly this much is true: true change is only that which remains changed through every season.  It is easy enough to be People Over Profit and fix instead of replace and take an extra three hours to shop locally in independent stores to get a week's worth of groceries when life is otherwise possible.

But when life takes a turn for the Impossible as sometimes it does, the unnecessary and unlikely are quick to be dropped in favour of the I Guess I Cans.  So far, we can still pay cash. We can still choose the preferred grocery vendors. We can tip well and be kind to workers doing work we would prefer not to do. We'll see about the rest.

I'm not sure what that means for writing here. I have commissioned the Occupied Investing post and hope to have it here soon.  I don't know what it will say, but I won't lie: I really liked my introduction for it. I am also planning to continue my revisiting of the original ten or eleven ideas to see how they're working out a few months later.

If you have any other ideas, please send them. Oh, and this: please send your own stories of Occupy You and maybe we can post those? If you don't have my inbox deets, leave a comment and I'll track you down to send them.  I'd love to have a few other versions to read of this story.

(Pre)Occupy Me.