“I am here because my soul wouldn’t let me be anywhere else and I cannot sit home and let the bulls**t continue!” These were the words I shouted in the middle of Times Square to a crowd of thousands this past Saturday evening. My words came back to me threefold as other protesters in the Occupy Wall Street movement repeated them in unison so the people behind them could hear what was being said. As I was helped off of the flower pot I was standing on, I felt a rush of energy and passion and incredible fulfillment. My soul seemed to be saying, “Well done, Megan, you make me proud.”
This is Occupy Wall Street and this is my current passion. Witnessing and participating in this movement is one of the most incredible things I’ve ever done (next to working with No More Deaths). Shouting, chanting, dancing, talking, laughing, crying, and protesting with people who share my heart is something I wish each of you can someday experience for yourselves because it is a phenomenon that is hard to put into words.
One of the most practical and powerful aspects of Occupy Wall Street for me is the communication process. Each evening a General Assembly is held where protesters meet in one large group to discuss goals, passions, concerns, and announcements. Originally the meetings were projected through the use of a megaphone, which the police then prohibited. It turns out, this rule was not a hindrance but a small bump in the road that led to a beautiful creative solution (one that has been used in protests all over).
A group of facilitators leads the assembly with a “Mic check!” All who are in hearing distance repeat “Mic check!” several times so everyone in the crowd knows to quiet down. The speaker then yells a short phrase which is repeated by everyone in hearing distance which is repeated again by everyone in hearing distance of them. The speaker then continues with their sharing and the cycle continues. Sometimes a single phrase can be repeated three times.
Yes, it makes the meetings much slower but to me it builds solidarity. Not only do I hear what you are saying but I repeat it and not only do I repeat it myself but I repeat it with hundreds of others. This builds a sense of affirmation and unity. Of course if you do not agree with what is being said, there are appropriate hand signals to designate that, as well as various other signals for agreements, wrap-it-ups, and so on. This is just one example of the community that is being built through Occupy Wall Street.
One of my favorite chants from the movement is “Show me what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like!” I could not agree more. To me, real democracy is not casting a virtually meaningless vote from time to time in a ballot box. Democracy is not the two-party system of mostly rich white men that we watch battling out their frustrations with each other on national tv. I could go on and on about what democracy is not but I want to say a few things that it is.
Democracy is engaging in conversations with people at all levels of society across all lines and boundaries. Democracy is letting those whose voices have been silenced (like many of our First Nations peoples) speak out and listening to their cries for justice. Democracy is exactly what Occupy Wall Street has been doing– standing up against greed and corruption and calling for a true peoples’ voice to be heard. It is questioning and being questioned. It is listening and being listened to. It is connecting with other people and hearing their souls speak. It is letting your soul speak your truth to power.
There is something deeply beautiful and powerful when your soul speaks to you and you listen, when you do not deny your soul out of fear of humiliation, or fear of failure, or fear of the unknown. I am experiencing this soul releasing in so many ways in New York, especially through Occupy Wall Street. Whether it is standing on a giant flower pot in the middle of Times Square, or dancing uninhibited to a drum circle in the middle of the sidewalk, or marching in the middle of the street, chanting in unison with hundreds of fellow protesters– it is all a way of releasing Megan to the world and it is beautiful and it is real.
And each time I listen to my soul it becomes easier to hear her the next time. My soul is screaming to me that I need to be at Occupy Wall Street, I need to be in solidarity with my people, I need to stand up for what I believe and who am I to deny her? I wish this for all of you– the ability to hear your soul calling to you, to speak your truth, and to let your soul free.
There is a song by my favorite folk singer, Laura Marling, that goes like this:
“I speak because I can
To anyone I trust enough to listen.
You speak because you can
To anyone who’ll hear what you say…”
So speak, stand, all of you, if for no other reason than that you can.