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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Salutations to occupiers everywhere

Salutations and Happy New Year to all you beautiful Occupiers everywhere.

A teacher named Ruby from Indiana asked people on a listserve "if libraries in their areas charged fees"?  Her library charged fees, and required three year renewals.  Libraries here in Connecticut do not charge fees, and update old cards without any real hassle.  What does all this really mean? For me it demonstrates a growing meanness that is destroying everything public, an attack on the general good, an affront to our humanity as a people. 
F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in the Great Gatsby... "Here was a new generation, shouting the old cries, learning the old creeds, through a revelry of long days and nights; destined finally to go out into that dirty gray turmoil to follow love and pride; a new generation dedicated more than the last to the fear of poverty and the worship of success; grown up to find all gods dead, all wars fought, all faiths in man shaken..."
There is no question in my mind "Occupy" has become a new emerging narrative, one that questions the worship of success being defined as money and power. My thinking is,  America is always at a cross road between meanness and kindness.  "Occupy" is an emerging narrative at that cross road that those in power feel the need to mock, because "Occupy" makes it hard for them to look at themselves in the mirror. Occupiers revealed the ugliness of the gluttony of the powerful and wealthy, and it also reveals some of our own shame. 
If Fitzgerald were writing "The Great Gatsby" today, the word occupy might very well be the only word under those eyes of the divine on that billboard outside George Wilson's home. 
I agree with Gandhi when he said: "Poverty is the worst form of violence." I see this attack on all things public as a violent attack on the poor. Things like fees and renewals serve only to discourage the poor from entering our libraries. 
I remember one freezing winter, a long time ago,  when my family had no heat in our little apartment.  It was the library that kept my sisters and I warm after school while my mother was at work. If my Mom had to pay a fee at the library she would not have been able to pay it. Instead my sisters and I would have sat in a freezing apartment surrounded by cold walls devoid of any books. Public spaces such as libraries,  do so much  more than keep its patrons warm; they help to make us who we are. 
The ladies at our library knew that we were there for much more than just books... These librarians made extra sure my sisters and I were welcomed every day. "Salutations- to the Turner family are you coming to discover your next great adventure? We have your usual table by the window reserved just for you" they would say to us each and every day.  One day I asked her “Mrs. Johnson what does Salutations mean?” ….”Well my little man let me introduce you to "Charlotte" your next great adventure.”…  Those wonderful librarians made sure a little boy who was without a hat or gloves in the midst of a cold winter was given a brand new pair of gloves.  Gloves that just happened to be his size... and had somehow mysteriously showed up in the lost and found... The faith of those librarians was never shaken, and those gloves made sure my faith in humanity remains unshaken today. 
We too can make a difference, by living unshaken lives. By teaching, by sharing, by questioning, and the random acts of kindness we do every single day. My heroes have always been those acts of kindness known as teachers and librarians. Today I am adding those brave occupiers of public spaces everywhere to my hero list. 
Still marching, still walking, and soon to be occupier at the DOE this spring with Opt Out,
The above photo (somewhat blurred) is of me, saluting an occupier from Occupy Dame Street, in Dublin, Ireland, on 12/30/11. 
Walking song of the day "I hear them all by the Crow Medicine Show 
For those wishing to join us for Occupy The DOE in DC this March 30, 31, and April 1 & 2:

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