It is hard to believe that a year ago i was preoccupied with the X Factor. Now, i am preoccupied with occupying things. In any day, i occupy a small cupboard at the hospital, some steets, and a couch. i can even occupy myself, in the Zen tradition.
In my other life, i Occupy Hagley Park when i can. i went down to Occupy Christchurch one freezing Stormageddon day with blankets and hot water bottles and things, and found four men standing ankle deep in it. They stayed. Others came and went. People fed them. When the storm stopped, they could dry out and do their own cooking and keeping warm. It's been like that - sort of a cross between a camp ground and a student flat. There are General Assemblies each evening. i go to some of them. There are maybe thirty people each evening. They use a very particpatory form of democracy designed for large groups, with hand signals and no hierarchy, just jobs to do. It is a bit mysterious for some of the older ones, especially those with Union backgrounds.
And i have been on the second march, for Labour Day. i did that for Tyler. Tyler has a microbiology degree and has been unemployed for nearly a year. He has cut his hair and shaved his beard and applied for a factory job. And Adam - Adam works in the dangerous Red Zone, for minimum wage, when they call him up, with very poor safety conditions, and studies maths and chemistry at school in his spare time. Most of the young people in my life are under- or unemployed.
The Occupiers are mostly young, tertiary educated and male. There have been several rousing speeches given at the marches from guys my age, about how we need to get out of it and support the young people to learn and do it the new way. Well, i wonder. i went 'Hmmm...' to myself, in my best Marg Simpson tones, and got to thinking about what middle aged women can offer.
Firstly, we are the 99% if anyone is. We are the food court cleaners and the office workers and the carers in dementia homes. We migrate, and support whole families back home. Life is just grind for many middle aged women. i am luckier than most.
Secondly, we are these guys' moms in spirit if not literally and we know stuff. We know how to organise things and we know lots of momsie stuff like how to make a meal with veges in it and how to mend a broken heart and how to manage money. We are women, we are wise...we get it, we have been there.
Thirdly, we are history, or at least a bit of it. The history of protest in New Zealand goes back to Parihaka of course, where Te Whiti used well thought out non violence techniques agianst the colonialists. And in 1911 a young Robert Semple stood where Aotea Square in Auckland is currently being Occupied, and spoke against the inequalities of wealth and the need for working people to stand up. My own history is from the peace movement in the 1980's. i am blessed with education. i have read from Noam to Naomi. i have been able to follow the thinking over time, and i am pleased to be learning more now.
So, my dears, thank you for welcoming me as we stand in the muddy park, in the gathering darkening chill, and discuss the future of our world by the sound of flapping tarps and the small rain falling, and the light of a dying netbook. i have some things to tell you, and some things to hear from you before the evening is out.