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Donna Schaper Headshot

You Can't Evict the Human Spirit

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Why in the middle of the night? Why with so much police power? Why did they think they had to shove people out? The good news is that this action, so unnecessary, will build the movement even more. Yes, the people in the park had become tired, irritable, a little vague. They had even considered exit strategies but were unable to execute any, due to a serious allegiance to the kind of democracy most people gave up on long ago. Some sexual violence was happening, likewise drugs, as the park was open to the world and the world moved in with it.

But the larger story is one of extraordinary discipline, inner development, non-violence. The larger story is the way some folk out of Canada, with great symbols and slogans, camped out and changed the conversation in the United States. I call Occupy my Xanax, my anti-depressant, my ability to sit with peers over dinner or coffee and not become morbid. I had a spiritual and political depression. I don't have it any more. The cops don't have a chance of taking it away from me.

My hope had been that the earliest spark and spirit would have prevailed and some humor would have announced an orderly departure to a winter home in various congregations and union halls. That was partly in the works. But the police made all the decisions, the way force often does. So unnecessary, so sad. There is some relief that there is an ending. But truthfully, this is just the beginning. The fact that New York's finest -- and a decent Mayor -- made a choice to go stealth instead of steady is embarrassing. New York is better than that. The mayor won't care, because he is in his third term. But New Yorkers will.

When I say humor, let me say that it is something different than the humor we knew in Denver. In Denver, apparently the mayor insisted on having one representative from OccupyDenver to talk to regarding matters. The General Assembly deliberated and deliberated and then deliberated some more. Finally they elected a border collie. They got the dog an email account. I am told the border collie has outstanding requests to the mayor for a meeting. Part of me finds that hilarious. It is the same part of me that loves the toy soldier on the carpet part of the menarchists running things downtown. They are having fun. It is a camp meeting. It is utopian mysticism. It is drumming. It is also getting evicted by the mayor and the cops. More respect for mayors and police would not have hurt. Giving them a way out would have helped.

There are other kinds of humor. We just pick up our tents and our iPads and our vegan options and our beautifully swept park and tell the gardeners who are bringing down new flowers that they'll have to come back in the spring, after student loans are halved and bank fees obliterated, after foreclosures are foreclosed. If I read the spirit of the drum right, we may have to come back every September and every spring and do something so extraordinarily bright that it shines a light on Wall street and the way it has forgotten heart beats as well as drum beats. We may have to await a constitutional amendment, one that takes money out of politics or makes sure that corporations are understood for what they are, which is not persons or personal. Another blogger says, "I'll know corporations are individuals as soon as the State of Texas executes one." I don't want to be that punishmentalist. I just want a couple of constitutional amendments. Is that too much to ask? It will come by humor, by deftness, by ducking the police, season after season after season.

At first glance, I see hope. At second glance, I see change. At third glance, I see the pathetic nature of police action, when it confronts the human spirit.

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