Reclaim Abundance! Reclaim “The Commons”
Let's see what's right in front of us. Let's face the austerity swindle we've just paid for twice over. Then let's really take in the abundance all around.
What is “common” is so abundant, we tend to take it for granted: it is all around us, so obvious that we actually don't see it. And until it becomes rare, we don't notice it disappearing. Sometimes we don't even notice it when it's gone.
We feel so distant from the essentials of life, all around us, that we don't notice as our resources are removed from the Commons, privatized and commodified (read: stolen and sold back to us at a profit). When we stop at the bodega and fork out $2.50 for bottled Lake Michigan water, we don't notice because we have become accustomed to paying for absolutely everything that we need to survive.
And so reclaiming abundance may prove the basis of our future survival.
Unlike the water, air, and land that belong to all of us in common, we can all agree that money in and of itself has no value. As anarchist anthropologist David Graeber has pointed out, money was first created to mark a debt that could never be repaid, such as to a man for his daughter (dowry), or for killing someone's brother (blood money). It was in this context that money was early on imbued with greater significance than anything of actual tangible use. In exchange for little pieces of paper or metal stamped with potent symbols, we can buy almost everything we need: home, security, health, education, travel, even time. Magic! But what makes life feel most abundant, are “things” that we cannot buy – community, love, friendship. And these are the things we discover most powerfully when we work together to reclaim the Commons.
Both in principle and in practice, Occupy Wall Street is a movement that truly critiques by creating the alternative. From day one, we rejected the presumption that everything of value must be paid for – whether in cash, or in blood -- and that we must compete over limited resources. And then we showed that our resources become scarce when we divide them between individuals, from the top, down; they can remain abundant when dispensed with the Common good in mind, via distributed leadership.
Where we go awry, every time, is when we focus our energies upon fighting only for our individual rights, rather than putting our energies together to claim the Commons that belongs to us all.
Are we ready to evolve beyond the language of “rights”, which can connote individual entitlement to limited resources, and towards the language of the “Commons”, which suggests a sense of responsibility to care for the abundance around us? Occupy Wall Street is one embodiment of a global shift in collective consciousness, towards “claiming our Commons” the way we should.
This Saturday, Sunday and Monday, through an abundance of actions from Chelsea to Greenwich Village, City Hall to Wall Street, we will defy the scarcity swindle that has landed us in loads of debt. Join us all day around the town, from the threatened site of the Spectra Pipeline at the High Line park, to the doors of the United States Bankruptcy Court (ironically housed in the Museum of the American Indian). Enough of Wall Street borrowing against our future. Reclaim abundance, reclaim the Commons!