Maybe Gil Scott-Heron was on to something after all. It doesn’t take a very sharp mind to acknowledge that the Occupy movement was one born of frustration but lined with the inherent hope that the American dream offers. We saw thousands of thoughtful young people taking arms in a sea of troubles only to have the authorities eventually extinguish the gatherings. The problem was that Occupy was a collection of ideas that were articulated by a vocal minority (that represented a majority) who were essentially leaderless. But who can say that they really learned what Occupy was about from watching TV? Very few.
After the first month Occupy was hard for most people to get their heads around because the ideas were so broad and lacked a central hub where the casual Occupier could go to learn more. Sure there were websites and various viral notions floating out there but most people couldn’t tell you more than “it’s about the “99% vs. the 1%”. If you didn’t watch The Daily Show or were a member of Move On I just can’t imagine how you even knew what Occupy was really about.
Because of that I’m suggesting that we compliment the Occupy movement with some simple steps that can help us create change now. Away from the TV. I offer these 5 simple rules for starting a revolution. We can not wait around for politicians to change our laws or for a crowd to gather in the streets again. When those happen, great. But in the meantime let’s turn within and act locally and pragmatically. There are so many tangible simple things we can do on a daily basis that will change the physical and economic landscape and open up the revolutionary change agents that are dwelling inside of all of us.
Five steps to spark change:
I preface all of these by saying that I merely strive for these, it’s not perfection, just awareness and progress.
1.) Change what you buy – if we all collectively bought hybrid cars, didn’t shop at Wal Mart and chose eco-friendly products it would make a small difference. Even if it’s only incremental, it’s a start. The fabric of the American dream is small business, self realization and self determination. This is crumbling fast. Because of cheap prices and convenience we’ve given the power back to the elite few. The big corporations are becoming bigger and more powerful because they’ve created the illusion of convenience. Short term satisfaction over long term sustainability. Shop small, shop local, buy eco friendly and try to minimize your support of the 1%. This is a very complicated topic in itself and could warrant a massive discussion – but to learn more about how a certain aspect of how the 1% operates and takes advantage of you watch “Inside Job.”
2.) Change what you eat – do you realize that if we all ate organic, GMO free, High Fructose Corn syrup free healthy living foods that the entire Monsanto corporate food structure would crumble? Everyones first response is “I can’t afford it.” That is a problem but I offer the idea that it’s sacrifice. The super cheap mass Alternatives are a trap. Do you know how much harm is done and energy is expounded to get a McDonalds hamburger to cost $.99? Spend the extra $2 and eat some local fruit and nuts instead. It might seem expensive in the short term but in the long term it will equal out because our collective supply and demand structure will change.
3.) Become vegetarian – I won’t deny the facts that show us that human beings are omnivores. We eat whatever is around us in order to survive. This is a simple fact. However, we have evolved to the point to where we can question the sustainability of choosing to deplete what’s around us. And as far as suffering goes, there really is no reasonable need to make any other living creature suffer in order for us to thrive. At the very least, if you do not agree with that philosophy (or if your body does not) at least eat organic, free range animal products. The environmental, health and karmic damage that the institutional meat industry causes is a crime and shutting this down will be a small revolution in itself. People will be healthier, less obese, the pharmaceutical and health insurance industries would dramatically change as a result. Watch “Food Inc.” or “Forks over Knives” to learn more.
4.) Develop a method – the problem with being fanatic about a personal growth method is that it becomes a trap. You start to see the whole world through that method and then judge those who aren’t on the same trip. With that said, if we all collectively develop a consciousness expanding method with some flexibility and open mindedness to others methods we’d be in better shape. Practice Yoga, do meditation, become spiritual and God conscious, chant the names of God, do community service (seva), become a member of a loving non-zealot based local church, take psychedelics consciously after you do the research, play music, make art – do any of these things. Do something that takes you out of the selfish routine of self gratification, greed and the desire to amass more “stuff”. Opening our hearts and minds to new ways of thinking naturally makes us question the world around us and causes a revolution that begins within. The best part of the 1960′s was based on this notion. Question authority but do it with mindfulness. Can you imagine what would happen if the majority of Americans started the day with a form of Yoga? Can you imagine how thoughtful we’d be if we all sang and danced every day?
5.) Use media wisely – this is perhaps the one that is easiest for everyone to participate in. We’re all on Facebook everyday anyway so why not use it wisely? There is an immense power in this. Please stop posting about your morning coffee and post about ideas that are worth spreading (thanks TED). The proof is there – when good ideas spread they work. See #Occupy or Arab Spring for evidence. Of course, it’s ok to have some fun and to keep it light – not everything needs to be some heavy message all the time. I get that. But let’s find a balance. Except for the Kardashians – there is a zero tolerance policy on that one. Don’t post about them, ever.
Zach Leary is an aspiring Yogi and lover of God living in Los Angeles. He can also be found fumbling his way through leading kirtans, doing asana that is too difficult for him, cooking great food, still missing the Grateful Dead, blogging at auralist.net and working as a digital marketer during the day.