Violence and Gentleness – Reverend Billy on the Occupy Movement

27 Oct 2011 admin

Our friend, performance preacher, Reverend Billy of the Church of the Earthalujah guest blogs some of his thoughts on the ‘Occupy’ movement and recent police brutality at Occupy Oakland.

Rev Billy addresses the crowd at Occupy Wall Street, New YorkWaking up anxious to be clear, to have an incite and then somehow state what I believe to be true, clearly.  It is raining outside, 4:30 AM. The neighborhood is asleep, my family too, although I could tell as I eased out of bed the two of them were dreaming energetically.  I put Thelonius Monk on the machine, to go with the rain.

Check Utube for the views of our song.  47,000 in 6 days. I pick up my phone – see that I was texted last night.  A march for Oakland at 9 PM. Missed that one.  Last I heard – 2,000 people were marching to re-take the encampment at Oakland City Hall, and then I saw a recall campaign beginning against the Oakland mayor. Veteran Scott Olsen is in the hospital, a skull injury from a flash grenade. I don’t even know what a flash grenade is.

We also, here in the New York, have a violent police force. Lately they have descended by steps into a Monty Python comedy bit, caught pepper-spraying women corralled into demonstration pens, planting cocaine on innocent bystanders, fixing traffic tickets by the thousands in the Bronx, and yesterday it came out – gun-running.  So our cops are on the cover of the tabloids looking foolish. I can’t tell if this makes them more dangerous.

Meanwhile, there are now 2,000 Occupy communities established throughout the world. The trillion dollar “governments without countries” called Big Banks – are finally confronted by a force that they cannot bribe. Their thousands of lobbyists can only watch from the sidelines, looking for an opening. George Orwell please consult. Our power seems to be in the fact that we are living outside the system, in the face of the system, daring the system’s police to respond to the gentle drama of everyday life.

I want to be clear but the whole thing is a dazzling riddle. Large governments that call themselves “banks,” control the pretend governments called nation-states, and are now confronted by new little seed governments that they do not control. Our encampments of people who operate openly by gift economies…

Long ago the banks and big corporations abandoned real democracy, except as a kind of long-running television show. These enormous concentrations of wealth bombard the consumers inside their host countries with thousands of marketing events every hour, financial tricks, long hours and suburban landscapes, and brute cops. Outside their markets they finance wars and fossil fuel industries that pour CO-2 into the air.

And this built environment is so absurd – that fixing a meal in a park in front of their skyscrapers brings hundreds of militarized police on full alert. Then on the other side of things, information about the danger we are in on this Earth, the physical life systems in this bio-sphere, can only be communicated in spurts of terrorized pixels. The news stories about Occupy Wall Street have a kind of giddiness – the culture is not accustomed to actual criticism.

The musicians and comedians are completely corporatized and silenced. Hollywood movies cannot be political. They have their binoculars turned around the wrong way – they seem to operate in a glittering distance. A political-messaged George Clooney movie doesn’t reach the street.  But living actual life?  Maintaining a small park where logos are not allowed? That IS political. Information streams from such an act, Enacting a simple function of living, hugging a friend, say, but doing this without corporate products to assist in that hugging. That seems to make the police come running.

Logolessness and the functions of everyday life. We simultaneously find gentle living and its violent response, and then we know that we have found the thing they don’t want us to find:  the border of actual politics. So we urge the peace forward a few feet each day.  Soon, necking in bank lobbies. Filling the office buildings with performance renta-cops.  Someday a bank president will walk into his office, only to find a young mother their, breast-feeding a child.  What are you doing here?  Living.

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