In this article Kate Griffiths shares her reflections on Occupy Love – she hosted a private screening of the film at her home which was not only the Hertfordshire but also the England premiere. It brought together some of the people that have attended her Connection through Conversation events, which was an opportunity to build some deep connection and watch magic happen in itself.
As one of the viewers said watching films like that fill her with hope. For me, I was conscious about how it was documenting history in the making. It followed the birth and death of the Occupy movement. What struck me was that although I had been aware of Occupy Wall St and Occupy London at the time, I had not been actively involved in it. It led me to the question – how different is it this time from flower power in the 1960s or the Russian Revolution at the beginning of the 20th Century? How do these things move from being the preserve of an idealistic minority to a mass movement?
A study of revolutions shows that what tips the balance is not well crafted arguments and ideas, rather the people rise up when their basic needs are not met. In other words hunger drives the masses to say enough is enough. That made me feel a little depressed because that does not lead to sustainable change, rather there is chaos for whille before a form of stability and normality is reinstated: a normality that Velcrow Ripper and others would refer to as the dominant culture.
If we divide society into the dominant and non-dominant culture that is those with power and those with no power – Occupy Love refers to the protesters as the 99% – are we not just creating more separation and potentially victims? We are all interconnected and are part of one indivisible whole. What this means for me is being able to come to a place where we can embrace the light and the dark and accept what is and not accept facile explanations of what is.
The power of the Occupy Movement, those raising awareness about the Alberta Tar Sands and the Arab Spring is the humanity of the whole experience. What was amazing at the ground zero site was how people came together to create the way they wanted to live. They grew their food using grey water and purifying it through the use of pedal power. This was alongside composting and food production: all these projects allowed people to come together and share.
As Barbara Marx Hubbard says crisis leads to transformation. The UK has a current debt of one trillion. To give you an example of what that means in terms of size. Imagine that one billion represents the distance between London and York; you would need to circle the earth 32 times to get to one trillion. Most world governments have taken the view that we can spend our way out of the economic crisis. The result is that national debt increases and there is virtually no possibility that any country like the UK and the USA will be able to repay their debt. At some point those lending us the money like China will stop doing it. That’s when our countries will hit crisis point.
We do not have to wait for the crisis, we can start creating something new now – a society that celebrates humanity and one that does not see the amount of money people have as the greatest factor in success. We can do this by shaping the kinds of communities that we want. Humans live for building relationships with others; we are interdependent. It is all about being real and we start by thinking about how we communicate and by sharing our pain as well as our joy. There is growing research that shows that genuine wellth comes when we are alive to this.
This is not just a call for love though. For me, perhaps the biggest flaw with the film is its tendency towards a black and white view of the situation we are living in. Its roots are in the old activist movement which focuses on revolution rather than spiralution. It has a tendency to demonise any form of big business.
It does recognise however that both love and power drive our world and quotes Martin Luther King:
Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anaemic.
That means we need to engage with those in power rather than alienating them with activist slogans. We also need to create our own movements because when we come together and speak with one voice, we have greater influence than when we are one voice on the edge of the unknown. I know many, and include myself in this, whose intention is to create the conditions for more courageous conversations that will lead to the shift that is needed in society. This is an almost imperceptible process but vital work as we need new structures in place before the almost inevitable full-scale economic melt down. As we do do this then more and more imaginal cells will appear.
Bruce Liption explained what imaginal cells are really well in the film, Crossroads. Norie Huddle in her book butterfly describes what they are very well:
The caterpillars new cells are called ‘imaginal cells.’ They resonate at a different frequency. They are so totally different from the caterpillar cells that his immune system thinks they are enemies…and gobbles them up–Chomp! Gulp! But these new imaginal cells continue to appear. More and more of them! Pretty soon, the caterpillar’s immune system cannot destroy them fast enough. More and more of the imaginal cells survive. And then an amazing thing happens! The little tiny lonely imaginal cells start to clump together, into friendly little groups. They all resonate together at the same frequency, passing information from one to another. Then, after awhile, another amazing thing happens! The clumps of imaginal cells start to cluster together!.., A long string of clumping and clustering imaginal cells, all resonating at the same frequency, all passing information from one to another there inside the chrysalis.
A wave of Good News travels throughout the system– Lurches and heaves…but not yet a butterfly.
Then at some point, the entire long string of imaginal cells suddenly realizes all together that it is Something Different from the caterpillar. Something New! Something Wonderfull!….and in that realization is the shout of the birth of the butterfly!
In summary what Occupy Love does well is show us that increasingly people are clamouring for a new way of living. For me this most moving message in the film is the cry for us to be more human. The focus however is on big actions such as the Arab Spring and the Occupy Movement. What is actually happening is that the shift is happening in less dramatic ways at a more local level. On a personal note, the next step is to organise a public screening of Occupy Love so that many more can hear its ideas and start to make sense of it for their own lives. This will be the first step for something even bigger which is about disseminating the ideas of some of today’s great thinkers more widely through film. If you feel inspired by what I have written then do share what you are going to do going forward as that makes it more real and therefore more likely to happen.
Kate Griffiths is a qualified coach, speaker, community leader and writer, who is fascinated by the power of conversation. She teaches business owners, leaders and teams how to communicate effectively to build stronger relationships and thereby improve the possibilities for innovation and collaboration.
Kate is also the Community Relations Director of the 7 Graces Project, a thriving community and emerging social enterprise. The aim of the 7 Graces Project will be to provide an educational alternative and business incubator for a new generation of ethical, community-focused businesses.