Zenarchy Occupy Love.
Zenarchy, the word, arrived in my mind while biking downtown today. I live in Portland where the biking is easy, (except when it’s raining, when the biking is soggy!). The main cycling artery passes along the Willamette river. The Blue Herons fish during the morning commute. Less beautiful, however, are the couple of anarchists’ encampments on the same river. To the uninitiated they look like homeless people. Which they are, but with a twist. The anarchists are more often young, tattooed and dreadlocked Their bikes and camping gear can be quite high quality. The smell of pot is often pretty thick in the air (but that’s OK because it’s legal now in Portland, well, almost). The big difference is that the conversation is more sophisticated than among “real” homeless people. I like what the anarchists care about too – creating a new model of living. They are peaceful even as they defiantly resist working “for the man” (which ironically means not working for the machine-like economic system as wage slaves). I originally met the anarchists on the “Occupy” marches downtown. We had common concern. But I am old and will not wear my hair dreadlocked anymore! More seriously I don’t like their essentially parasitical relationship to the “system.” Without our riverbanks (supplied by tax dollars), our surplus food (supplied by generous restaurants serving local and sustainable food and making the considerable leftovers available for free) and general “sup-portland politeness” the anarchists couldn’t survive. But their way of life makes it possible to only take care themselves. Ironically their life of renunciation is too self centered to be a model for sustainable change. I believe it was Gandhi who said it takes a lot of rich friends to keep a simple monk. Or maybe that was the Buddha. Which brings me to the Zen part of anarchy or the practice of presencing/mindfulness which aims toward taking right action, action that is appropriate-for-all. I wonder what would happen if the anarchists (inside us all?) cultivated inner conditions for a less self centered response to life? For sure the current economic model generates enormous waste — of human potential as well as earth’s resources. It must end. It will end because it is unsustainable. We don’t know when and we don’t know what will survive the post industrial collapse. Was it Thomas Berry who forecast a small band of homo sapiens on the drifting ice of Antartica? But what then? The anarchists show us that we can live with a lot less “stuff,” they radically question the driving forces of our somnambulant economic system where we either work for the man or seek to become the man. What seems more sustainable is what I learned on the Occupy walks, what Velcrow Ripper (could that possibly be a real name?) calls “Occupy Love.” Occupy Love puts the Zen into the anarchy and calls us to imagine and enact a massive uprising of participative creativity with new way of participatively organizing all aspects of our lives: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2cTBlGcZCeA.
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