The best rendition of the state of the world and its solutions available so far is the brilliant documentary Thrive. At a time when it has become a battle to access pure drinking water, organic food, basic housing, jobs, and energy, this film packages reams of research into a balanced narration that anyone can understand.
The argument is that all of the struggles people around the world are facing right now are coming to such a head that it is impossible anymore to ignore the connectivity of the problems and their source. Environment, community, health, media, natural resources, energy, and food are some of the major areas which show strong indications of imbalance in the “post-modern” era. No longer are the issues that stem from these imbalances viewable as isolated incidences, but numerous well-documented scientific findings clarify the systemic nature of the problems facing the human race today.
It may have once seemed a bit “out there” to postulate that all of our problems are connected and that therefor their solution is simple. Maybe you remember a time when your high school debate team considered the spotted owl an issue of jobs versus the environment. Certainly, television content promulgates the old line that it is best to fit in and shop like a good consumer. However, people are citizens, regardless of how boxed we are into a spending and consumption pattern that makes little sense, creates massive waste, and funds the very forces working hard to suppress our own basic rights.
Two years ago, a small group of activists took a video camera, still camera, and audio recording device into Wal-Mart, Old Navy, and Best Buy on an all-night independent citizen media exploration into the American “holiday” known as Black Friday. One woman sitting with a “pocket t.v.” at the front of a line snaking through the local mall told the independent journalists her family had made Black Friday a tradition for the past twenty-five years. Another teenage shopper on his way to the electronics department of a Wal-Mart nearly toppled an old man walking with a cane and didn’t even stop to apologize or see if the man had fallen. The team of journalists discovered many more instances of ingrained “retail therapy” that night. The truth is, if advertising was halted for just one day, there would be a massive reduction in consumer spending. This indicates that people are entrained by constant encouragement to spend money on things that do not contribute to real happiness or stability.
Another indicator of the systemic nature of problems facing the world today is the urban grid of most cities. If you have ever tried to go out of your house on a given day and meet up with a friend or simply leave your home, you will have discovered the difficulty in not spending money. There are very few places to easily go that do not cost some money for entry. Cafes will ask visitors to buy something in order to take up space. Library meeting rooms must be reserved. Bars and pubs as we know can be great places to socialize, but there is always a price. Walking in a park, riding a bicycle, or attending a free lecture are about it in terms of free recreation and socialization outside the home. The point is, where are people gathering to exercise their freedom of speech and work on solutions to the problems we face?
The Occupy movement is addressing the connected problems of the world in a grass-roots manner consistent with past ecological and social justice movements that have been successful in raising awareness and mobilizing the voice of the people to affect change. One inspiring thing is how aligned the Occupy movment is with the film Thrive. It is like a call and response relationship between the two. It is a wonder to see international mobilization of citizens against the brutal and organized forces of control that have systematically cracked down on the natural wealth of communities and ecosystems worldwide for hundreds of years.
The film Thrive leaves the viewer wondering how s/he will organize locally to take the actions suggested. One wonders who to talk with, who will be willing, who will understand the imperative, where to meet up and make a plan, and how to organize with other groups nationally and internationally. Occupy Together stands up in the streets and shows the world that unity has been initiated worldwide and with momentum, wide support, and media coverage. The result is a sense that the age-old struggle for freedom is nearer to being over at long long last than it is to defeat.