On Seattle: Me to WE is a Rallying Cry For 2020
The Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone is a sign of where things can go if we take back our power
Marooned in central Japan, jobless and meandering through my days, it’s easy for me to get lost in the Information Age and, as Pink Floyd sang in the year of my birth, “find, all those years have got beyond, no one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.”
But if ever there was a year that seemed like a collective starting gun, 2020 is it. Right on down to the visionary aspect of those numbers — 20/20 vision, how I miss thee! — 2020 kicked off with a bang and it seems like it could go just about anywhere right now.
Every day, another angle develops, another avenue to explore and, well, this can feel downright scary because one thing we humans like is something solid to hold onto.
And with disinformation, fake news, propaganda and outright lies filling the skies of our ever-connected noosphere, well, be mindful of your choice.
I speak from experience, having fallen down many rabbit holes, only to wake up in something much worse than a cognitive Kansas, but fortunately, there’s airships a-plenty in the Information Age, which leads me almost back to where I started: Seattle, just up the road from where I was born and spent almost half of my life.
What the Heck is Going On In Seattle?
People keep asking this question, so here’s some context
You see, as the world has watched the United States take the corona-virus crisis temporarily off the front page with its fiery few weeks of understandable outrage over the murders of three black citizens this year, finally tipping over with the horrific video of George Floyd, well, there’s much concern about things like martial law, fascist takeovers and all sorts of other phrases we’d hoped we’d never seriously consider but now we must.
However, in Seattle, after a week of skirmishes with the Seattle police, harkening back to fall 1999 and the WTO protests, well, the citizens did something unexpected — they took over a section of town and are now occupying it, a la the Occupy movement of just less than a decade ago.
And it’s a wondrous thing to behold from my perspective. Sadly, for the time being, this is all I can do — watch it from a bird’s eye view and from across the great blue Pacific — for the Japanese government has decreed it so. You see, I don’t have Japanese citizenship and, well, even though I’m married to a Japanese national, have two kids who have Japanese citizenship, own a home here and sing the praises of koinobori, takoyaki and the best toilets in the world, well … I can’t re-enter Japan if I leave. Nope, not even a quarantine, step off the soil, don’t come back.
A bit of a conundrum, as I’d actually made the decision last fall to quit my teaching gig of 15 years at the end of March 2020 so I could fly to America and spend half a year there, hoping to kick-start my original career — journalism — and write a book about the experience, an experience I’d intuited would put me at Ground Central of an absolutely historic year for the U.S. Alas… here I am.
I don’t want to complain, just offer the context for why I’m not reporting from the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ), but looking at it through the mediated screens of technology. For that reason, I’ll leave much of the on-the-ground details to the journalists who are there, such as this guy.
It seems 2020 has required just about everyone to sacrifice something, so I’m going to make the most of it and instead of griping, I’ll focus some of my writing and journalistic talents on keeping track of things in Seattle and telling my readers why this development is so damned important, and why we can’t allow cynicism about the perceived failures of past movements to convince us this one is doomed to go nowhere.
No, the time is ripe for such a People’s Revolution, as the institutions in our society — from every level of government to all aspects of the financial industry to, of course, the police — are being exposed for having not only limited leadership, but actually working against our best interests.
It truly does seem that this is the era where trust in a savior, belief in a guru, faith in a leader, what-have-you, is no longer warranted; that savior, guru and leader exists in each and every one of us, so it’s incumbent upon us to not only recognize this, but to cultivate it and then to find out what the best way to activate our power in the name of WE, the name of the collective which so desperately needs us, all of us.
So yes, this essay waxed poetic, meandered a bit and took a few detours down alleys I hadn’t expected when mapping it out in my head, but one of my own limitations is I have a lot of fire to start things, but sometimes lack the follow-through to finish them. Thus, this essay’s been given the Grammarly go-ahead and my editors are out cajoling at a karaoke bar, so the Publish button beckons, the cards will fall where they may.
I’ll leave you by recommending if this topic interests you (and if it doesn’t you must really dig my writing to have read so far — thanks!), go up and click on that link “What the Heck Is Going on With Seattle?” for it was that article which guided me to this topic and it has a ton of links to make up for the lack of them in this one. And then, one more link below, an interview with Nikkita Oliver, one of the people who is playing her part with vision, passion, heart and thoughtfulness (she’s a good follow on Twitter!).
"Building People Power": Nikkita Oliver on Seattle's Extraordinary Protests and What Comes Next
In Seattle, as in nearly every major city in America, protesters clashed with police for over a week in early June…
And I’ll let her have the last word, for it sums up what this whole post is about: this era is calling for us to move from me consciousness to WE consciousness, from leadership to partnership, where we all do our part, even if that means being stuck thousands of miles away from where you want to be.
With that, here is Nikkita Oliver:
“I mean, the beauty of what is happening is people are just wanting to be involved. So they’re starting to organize their own actions. I think it’s significant and important because if you look at what has happened in similar movements, we’ve ended up with figureheads — and when the figurehead is gone, the movement dies. The beauty of what’s happening now is that it’s becoming diffuse and harder to tell who the figurehead is because there are so many leaders all over the city doing their own thing but aligning to the common values and goals, which is incredibly powerful.” —Nikkita Oliver