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UU POV on Occupy @ UC Davis and Beyond

Posted by T. Resnikoff // March 27th 2012 // On Campus, soundings, Stories and Voices // no comments

Thank you to the UU Campus Minister to UC Davis for bringing to our attention this post by Tom Zolot, Campus Ministry Student at University California Davis.– Ed.

I was recently sucked into the movement iconically known as Occupy, also called Decolonize or sustained assemblies. As a UC Davis student that meant that I got myself in a trial by fire introduction to social inequality, radical community building and police brutality.

The major question I get asked is why? Why do what you’re doing? Why isn’t there more focus, what’s the point? In the many hours of conversations I have had I have come up with a couple of answers, but there is one that I think is most important and most clear of the overall goal. The Occupy movement is a call for all people to collectivize so as we may better fight for and achieve the rights of our selves and the life systems that we are responsible for. To me these are extremely similar goals and wants as the Unitarian Universalist faith movement.

We have been not been able to achieve the life we actually want. Our system has proven itself incapable of saving our ecosystems or securing homes and jobs and healthcare for all. These systems include not only the ones that bring about injustice, but also our own systems of fighting/righting injustice. And we, as Americans, are waking up to the fact that we can choose to live a different life, we can run our economies without bubbles and we can find a way out of a two party system where we have eight years of awful and eight years of only slightly better disguised awful. We can grow gardens in the empty spaces and build real neighborhoods again. We can stop spending mountains of treasure for military R and D and start providing health care and proper education. We can, if we collectivize.

I was recently in San Francisco and participated in a several hundred person march to take an abandoned building and turn it into a community center. SFPD decided to respond to our action with pepper spray and batons. This happened right across the corner from the SF UU church, where I ended up being welcomed for the night, and given a place to sleep and dry off. When I awoke in the morning I spent some time staring out at a beautiful fountain they have, right under a large beautiful piece of stained-glass. I realized that the church, this sanctuary I had taken shelter in, was so on the edge of becoming the beacon of our time. A brave search into truth and right living, the courage and responsibility to live the way we believe and the acknowledgment of our interdependence are fundamental for us, but for the world we in which we live, living out these things is extremely radical. But we stand on a brink where our communities could become shining beacons.

As I see it, as a now active Occupier, we need two things. First we need to stop blaming ourselves. We live this life NOT because we are not working hard enough. We have worked really hard actually. As a faith our churches work hard at building internal mechanisms for
external justice. We care a lot. And some of us have pulled incredibly hard at those bootstraps that are supposed to raise us up, or the strings that control our politicians and it seems no matter how hard we tug, we still struggle, we still sink deeper into a world none of us actually want. A world of cops that look like military and military on domestic soil (NDAA), a world where there are millions of homeless and an increasing, not decreasing, number of empty homes, a world that tells us honesty is awkward and that worrying about things on a local level is too small.

The second thing we need is to take to the streets. Local is not too small, its our home. We need to leave behind the television, leave behind the monopolizing and corrupt two party system, and leave behind the military-industial-agro complex. We need to take to the streets and become caretakers of all living things in our neighborhoods – to fight for the flowers in the sidewalk cracks, not the banks, to take back our streets and use them as the home of radical and unprecedented
community building. Use the spaces in our neighborhoods anyway that the neighborhood needs and that you have the skills to provide. And we do have the skills and our neighborhoods do have needs.

We need to a choose life over profit where an empty building can become a homeless shelter. Empty lots and grass front yards can become gardens or ecosystems. We can create a cooperative for bicycle repair or create a swap market program in a housing development. This is the life we actually want, this is life we preach and pray for. The time has never been better, we have never been in such critical need, our world needs us as the beacons we can be.

The tools are already at hand, so reach within you and find the means to win our freedom. Think deeply about how things actually change, leave behind the cliches we take for granted and take to the streets, defend those who need defending and start building a new world now, because we can no longer afford the cost of inaction.

Tom Zolot is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Campus Ministry at the University of California Davis, affiliated with the UU Church of Davis, CA.



About the Author

Ted Resnikoff is the Digital Communications Editor at the Unitarian Universalist Association.
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