Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Absence of Fear

Thanks to Chuck Vonderae on Facebook for this image.
The most hopeful thing about the surging wave of global protests is the repudiation of fear. Granted this is much, much easier if you're white, young, and live in the U.S.A. (at least for now) than it is if you are, for instance, a medical worker in Bahrain. But Egyptians rising up against a brutal security state dictatorship caused millions watching to throw off their own chains of fear: fear of not being cool, fear of Pentagon drone-based face recognition software, fear of admitting that you're financially broken for the forseeable future.

Still, intimidation will continue, and fear will lurk in the shadows where it thrives. Check out the crowd sourced testimony at We Are the 99% showing the most common fear in this country is lack of health care. Once you've faced that and still gotten back up to continue the struggle, you become much harder to intimidate.

Social media like Twitter and Facebook fuel the success of the world rising up because they are public, and require one to overcome fear in order to participate. (CODEPINK is all about using public displays, including humor, to rise above fear.) I overheard a young organizer in Portland last Saturday being challenged as to why he wore a Guy Fawkes mask. He said he was protecting his identity for fear of being targeted. He acknowledged that his disguise referred to the movie V for Vendetta, but said that for him the mask was not a symbol of violence, but instead referred to thousands of people pouring into Parliament at the end of the film.

An hour later the mask was off and he was speaking at #OccupyMaine's first General Assembly in Portland. His dad was there, too, supporting him. A day later and he was organizing #OccupyAugusta (Maine), which begins Oct 15. Going public allowed him to report an attempt at intimidation by the Capitol police, and allowed me to connect him with a leading civil rights lawyer in our state.

What will you rise up against? A decade of war on terror, decades of war on the working poor, or centuries of war on the indigenous stewards of the earth?

If you're not occupying Wash DC or another place near you, join us in Augusta on Sun Oct 9 to observe Indigenous People's Day and celebrate the finale of our 30 Day Care-a-Van to Bring Our War $$ Home in Maine. It's at UMaine Augusta's Holocaust and Human Rights Center from noon to 3pm. Bring finger food to share, and bring your stories. Here's one from the Care-a-Van that I'll leave you with:

A young man in the audience at the Afghanistan teach-in at Bowdoin College last week said: My parents lost their house because my sister has leukemia, and her medical care has been so expensive. Both my parents have law degrees. I stood outside the bank that repossessed our home with a protest sign and was told by police I couldn't be there without a permit from the town (in Massachusetts) that costs $50.

I told him: If 500 people had been standing there with you, I'll bet you wouldn't have needed a permit.

He said: We sit around at school and talk about it all the time, kids from all over. We know something is broken, but we don't know what to do about it.


chrisrushlau said...

"...fear of Pentagon drone-based face recognition software..."

They awarded some contracts for research. That's scary?
I don't doubt the fear. I noticed it years ago, as if they'd get a bullet in the back of the neck if they said "Iraq" in public. When I came back from Iraq alive, people took strong measures to avoid hearing from me that Iraq actually existed or that we'd actually invaded it.
They were afraid of losing their plausible deniability.
How do you overcome that sort of fear?

by said...

Take to the streets in droves. The exhilaration washes away the fear.