Adjusting to being back at home after my stint in the park as an occupier is a mix of happy and sad. On one hand, sleeping and working right next to a room with an actual toilet and shower in it has never been so appreciated, and the ability to choose what I eat and how I cook it made me positively giddy for the first week. On the downside, it feels lonely not being constantly surrounded by movement and people and it’s harder to get everyone I want to talk to and plan things with in the same place at the same time. I think the hardest part of it though is coming to terms with the fact that this “changing the world” business is a very long term thing and I have to be patient and not hate myself for my inability to solve everyone’s problems overnight.
One problem that I never saw as clearly before as I do now is that organizing activists is like herding cats, especially if you are lacking when it comes to charisma and credibility. There are probably 50 different groups that I know of in my small city alone, and few of them coordinate calendar events or share resources. If I choose to go to one rally or meeting or event, I am probably missing another one that also addresses my interests. This 24/7 barrage of small groups of people trying to raise awareness about some bill or injustice or other fills me with cynical despair, because even if they are successful it’s like trying to fix a rotting basket with band-aids. The whole system is broken and trying to patch it up just feels like a trap. An unintentional validation of something that is clearly unsustainable. Not to mention that a few months or years of hearing that the sky is falling every time someone wants to cut down a tree or execute a criminal can make even the most dedicated person say “fuck it” and fall into apathy. It is also daunting to be so small fighting a power system so massive. I am 25, I have no idea what I’m doing, and I have more issues than National Geographic.
Yet, I have hope. I feel like I might have a chance of making a difference for the first time in my life even if it turns out to be a small difference. I am surrounded by people who believe in me even when I feel like I am faking it, and the security that network provides allows me to take the risk of doing the sorts of things that make people in power angry, not because they are illegal or wrong, but because they challenge that power. I am helping put together the first Cop Watch organization this town has ever had. I am getting groups of people together to volunteer for community projects. I am trying to learn how to play diplomat and rebel at the same time. It’s exhausting and slow progress and there is as much chance of failure as success, but it feels good to have a purpose and to know that if I am crazy, I am at least in good company.