by Jeff Clark

Since its arrival, Occupy has been labeled as being a “disruption” of public spaces and the routines of daily life. Its eventual, large-scale eviction from those spaces, however, has not resulted in banishing what the continuous physical presence is meant to represent: an occupation of the consciousness. In the minds of Occupiers, this occupation still endures—although it’s not as easily visible to those who are not (yet) in sympathy with the consciousness.

Occupy is not aligned with political parties and their platforms. But this is because those things deal with “issues”—ones which are considered “pragmatic”—rather than with principles to be applied in social living.

As I see it, effective and just action on the world’s “issues” derives from an inherent guiding philosophy:

  • No principles before values.
  • No laws before principles.
  • No policy that is not shaped, constrained, and authorized with reference to laws, and no conduct of laws without their continuous review and reform answering to our values.

I think that the issues that have been raised by Occupy’s consciousness live in this guiding philosophy even when it’s not articulated. Occupy’s answer to any social problem reflexively tied to multiple-choice responses, dares to consider that sometimes the solution must be “none of the above” – where others consider this inconceivable. Outside the box is where a responsible and intelligent consciousness must venture.

Our job—whether in physical or verbal protest—is to look to values and not just to issues, to challenge the status quo with them, and to engage a long-running conversation that can tease out over time what we all really believe in, whether our daily actions comport with those beliefs, and (if not) how to change ourselves and our world…all in order to foster a life worth living.