I’ve had people question me, lately. “Why are you suddenly so interested in Occupy? Why have you ejected people from your life because of their political views and how they express them? Doesn’t looking at current events just make you more depressed?”
I’ll address the last question first. Actually… no, it doesn’t.
Finally taking the time to not just look around and see what’s going on, but to express my opinions on it and take action? That’s the most freeing thing I’ve done in my life.
Back in the late 80s, I was heavily involved in petitioning for recycling in the city, and in educating and fund-raising for the environment and organizations that promote cruelty-free lifestyles. Lots of things in my life were terrible – I was with the abusive boyfriend at the time, for example – but in this aspect of my life, I felt in control and useful and strong. It was exactly what I needed: a successful thing in my life that took a grand stand *and* made a difference.
Becoming immersed in learning about how fucked up our government is? Well, the fact that everything is screwed halfway to Sunday is indeed a depressing fact, but it does not cause me depression. Instead, it gives me things to focus on, things that I can address outside of myself, things that other people care about and are affected by, too. That lifts me up, makes me feel less alone, gives me purpose.
This comes around to the first question: why am I so interested in Occupy?
I love the vital energy that is gathering under the general flag of Occupy. I love that not only are people really starting to take notice of what’s happening and moving to do something about it; and I love that the ways that they are addressing it are contrary to what so many well-meaning people keep telling them that they should be addressing it. It’s got people talking, debating, looking deeper, and questioning many things that they might have just taken for granted before. It’s scary and inspiring and the very embodiment of change: unpredictable and relatively uncontrollable by outside forces, no matter how those forces try to control it.
For me, that’s just the inspiration that I need. I crave that unbridled embracing of change, making an change, taking a stand to create change. It challenges my anxiety in good, concrete ways. It gives me a reason to look ahead: what will happen next? It’s vital. It’s alive in all the ways that I want to be alive. It makes me want to care even more than I already do.
And that comes around to question two, the biggie in my life currently: I’ve ejected some people from my life because of their politics.
Let me say, first and foremost, that I have people in my life from ALL walks of life, all political angles, all sorts of backgrounds. I don’t care if you believe that Jesus hugged the dinosaurs and drank wine with Buddha. [actually, I want to hear how you came up with that theory. seriously.] If you can calmly, logically, and *respectfully* debate with me, and respect my opinions as much as you do your own, we’re golden. That means, if you’d like to engage with me, providing facts and reference is important. RESPECTFULLY. If you disagree with me, you need to do it thoughtfully and RESPECTFULLY. Notice a trend here? The folks that got ejected? They couldn’t play that way.
It’s actually a relief.
Know why? Because so far, without fail, the people who I’ve removed from my circle have been people that I’ve felt bad about having around for a while. They’ve been folks who make digs at people who they call their friends. They engage in toxic social behaviour. I’ve held on to them because I’ve wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt. That was my mistake.
Holding onto these people is nothing short of punishing myself, in just the same way as keeping the other abusive people in my life has been.
Once I realized this and walked away from them, my life became a million times lighter. I expected to feel guilt, as I’m the queen of feeling guilty. But you know what? I don’t. I feel light. I feel free.
I feel, for the first time in a while, that I’ve taken steps that I’ve needed to take to make my life better.
Isn’t that what therapy is supposed to do?
So there it is; Politics as Therapy.
I’ve found a way to address things outside my life, and at the same time, inside my head.
I’m caring more about the world around me, and in myself.