The Truth of Occupy
What really happened?
"Listen, some homeless people got a place to stay and some hungry people got fed. That's what happened in Zuccotti Park, okay?" -- Jonah Levi, The Official Unofficial President of Zuccotti Park
When the park had been cleared and a lot of the people had returned to their lives in other cities and states and countries, there was a perceptible shift in the energy of New York City. It seemed as though all of the people who were busy with their working lives, commuting to and from their work in that thriving city--who probably hoped or dreamed or wished they could take several weeks or months of their lives to dedicate to an endeavour such as the one they witnessed in Zuccotti Park each day that Autumn in 2011--took a deep breath en masse at the idea that the "magic" of those few weeks was no longer there.
In the midst of my effort to continue my work and develop effective methods of communicating with the public and encouraging the efforts of others, the official Unofficial President of Zuccotti Park, Jonah Levi, said an interesting thing to me about Occupy Wall Street. Jonah said, "Listen, some homeless people got a place to stay and some hungry people got fed. That's what happened in Zuccotti Park, okay?"
He said this to me after he'd been arrested for his political demonstration activities and in New York City Police custody for several months. As I sat there in front of him during one of my many visits to see, comfort and consult with him at the visitor's center of Riker's Island--or "the Isle of Reich" as I preferred to call it--I didn't know what to think or feel.
Jonah is the person who introduced me to Occupy. He taught me everything I know about what it means to live "on the street", to make do with nothing, to exist without friends, family or foes. I didn't know how to make sense of what he was saying. At the time, I rationalized his words as being the result of frustration and disillusionment with his work because it had culminated in his "Isle of Reich Adventure".
However, during the four years since Occupy, I have achieved an understanding what he was truly saying. He's right. It's true. The truest "testimony" of what occurred at Zuccotti Park is that homeless people received a place to stay and hungry people were fed. At first glance, that choice of words seems to trivialize the worldwide spectacle that captured the hearts, minds and dreams of people around the world, but it's true. That's all that happened.
And, that's what makes it so great. Because, what else is there?
Everything that humans do, the majority of that to which human effort is devoted, at the very core of it, is the desire to have adequate food and shelter. Homeless people want to have a home. And, humans with homes would like to have larger homes, because there's a new baby or the kids are growing up and need their own rooms, etc.
These desires are so universal and so all encompassing that humans believe they don't have the time to do anything other than what would create the condition they seek as expeditiously as possible. And, in the midst of their hurried activities, their quest for overtime or that promotion or that raise, there was Zuccotti Park. Everyone was working, but joyfully, cheerfully.
I didn't ask Jonah what he meant when he said those words at the Isle of Reich, but this is what I can tell you about Jonah. He's an attorney. A mechanic. He's fluent in Hebrew. He speaks with a Southern accent. He didn't have to invest his time in Occupy Wall Street and Zuccotti Park. Nor, did he have to invest several months of his life in a New York City jail, but he did.
Did he do that just so that he could offer a tent to some homeless folks or feed some hungry people who just happened to arrive when the food was being served?
I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Well, you were there. You saw him while he was working. What do you believe he was doing?"
I wouldn't know how to describe it you, but there are some pictures. If you had been there, you wouldn't need the pictures because his work is something that you'd never forget. So, maybe that is what he was doing. He was creating memories. Memories that would serve to persuade, plant seeds of thought that would later blossom into action for the improvement of life and the human condition. Maybe that's true.
The Truth of Occupy Jonah Levi
The Truth of Occupy Jehan and Jonah Levi at the Sacred Space
The Truth of Occupy Jonah Levi at Home
take a guess