What are you for? Is this the most productive use of your time?

I have recently been questioned for not protesting along with Occupy Philadelphia members. With vandalism in the name of protest in State College I feel again called to ask people to simply volunteer for the issues they care about. Volunteer with kids in low- income neighborhoods so they can be empowered, tutor adults so they can get jobs, help rape victims by reporting crimes to police. It just takes committed action to make a difference.

Obviously working in low income neighborhoods I am also concerned about the long-term negative impact a drastically limited budget will have in Philadelphia. From http://abcnews.go.com/Business/occupy-wall-street-protests-cost-cities-millions/story?id=14975940#.TsbVL67Isbs:  “Philadelphia racked up $492,000 in unanticipated police overtime through last week, according to Rebecca Rhynhart, budget director. Rhynhart said the city is estimating that costs could reach $2.5 million if the protest lasts through the fiscal year, or June 30.”It’s an unanticipated expense but we’re managing it,” Rhynhart said. The city has a budget of $3.5 billion. “In order to pay for it, there’s less money for other things. “‘ I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, since I know when I say or do things out of anger, I usually lash out and often hurt people who weren’t even the cause of the problem (and worse, usually my loved ones). It just takes self-control to be the better person.

While I am a petition signer, I admit I am generally not a protester. Some of the protests I have participated in have left a sour taste in my mouth with destruction of private and public property, fighting, violence, promotion of hatred, and self-destructive behaviors. Ultimately negativity isn’t worth my energy and probably didn’t promote the solutions that I so badly wanted. So in most of my life, I have trained myself to do something directly positive about things I want to change. For me, it’s not enough to be against something. That’s a copout because you take no responsibility when you blame others. Worse, this mindset trains people to have a victim mentality instead of feeling empowered. It just takes empowerment to make change.

Personally, I need to feel that I’m making a positive impact so when I am troubled about an issue, I interpret it as being called upon to do something about it or be even more productive about something I can change. It just takes bravery to be a leader.

I respect the character it takes to take responsibility and take on an injustice and correct it in even a small way….even as many of us are disappointed that some Penn State officials, government officials, business leaders and citizens lack character. I just wish I had all the Occupy members and Penn state protesters volunteering across the country for things they loved, like kids being happy and safe.  Thats how WE safely make the world a better, more just place.

I often hear younger generations blaming their parents for all their problems, which just further reinforces their problems.  As Dr. Jean Houston says, “It’s like getting a Ph.D. in one’s own pathology.”

Some members of Occupy Groups have had the help of Dr. Jean Houston who shows people through exercises how to make the shift to take positive actions locally. Check out her foundation at http://jeanhouston.org/ and her additional work at  http://www.socialartistryinstitute.org  And if you are interested in how art can help education systems, consider reading her book Jump Time.

To find your true purpose, she recommends the writing exercise below:

Divide a piece of paper into 3 columns with these three questions at the top.

1. What do I want from the universe?

2. What does the universe want from me?

3. What do WE want in common?

Art Sphere has been creating teaching and learning communities to help people from different neighborhoods and backgrounds to grow together in mind, body, and spirit.

Like Dr. Jean Houston using “Social Artistry,” Art Sphere has been using art for  social justice by making a difference in low-income communities, inspiring people to volunteer together to learn from each other so people will thrive.

It’s too easy to be against things. What are you for? It’s time to be going out into the world and be productive. I’m for Dr. Jean Houston’s Social Artistry work and by taking a couple moments of my time to promote it, I hope I can get more people to think what it takes to help the big WE.

WE need people thinking about the big WE to be local leaders for justice.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *