Occupy Omaha, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Movement

This post does not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of anyone else in the community or the program itself.  All statements here are the express opinion of Tim Nendick.

So, I finally spent some real time at Occupy Omaha.

And you know what?

It’s amazing what you learn when you pray with your feet.

A quick update for those who aren’t aware.  The world is undergoing a revolution. The waves of the first impulses of this revolution have (finally) reached this country and Omaha.  A hair over 3000 feet from McGloin, just out of sight thanks to the Joslyn, at 24th and Farnam, there exists a few tents, a fire pit, a flag, a carved pumpkin.

And people working to change the world.

They sound and look like this:


I was there in response to a call for action because the site currently being occupied was up for supposed eviction at 10PM; the movement, having  already been displaced twice, has chosen to hold its ground, and that means civil disobedience and the possibility of arrest. Needless to say, this is not an aimless day. People — probably more than 20, were ready to be arrested at this place to make a point.  Maybe 150 or more people were gathered to support them.

The time came and went, and by about 1AM all but a few had left.  An hour later, the police came and informed them that they would not be evicted that night, but such action may be immanent.

Understanding how I ended up there, camera in hand, ready to support a movement I had discredited in the weeks before is an important point.  It illustrates a growth and a process — something this movement is centered around.  That process is discovering, by acting in community, ways to channel indignation and frustration into growth and directed action.

I had heard about the movement pretty much since it’s inception; websites I spend time on brought it up, and I passed it off as an idealistic group that couldn’t achieve what they said they want to.  Obviously, I was wrong.  But it took a long time.  I watched with indignation as some of the 1% drank champagne as the protesters walked by under their balcony.  But I let that go quickly.  Surely that was an isolated event.  Sure, the police brutality was shocking a few days latter, but I mean, hadn’t they tried to move forward? They seemed like they were portrayed — aimless.  Of course, then I heard the the demands made from Zuccotti Park.  That happened in conjunction, more or less, with people putting feet to the demands with some of the first violent arrests at Occupy Boston. Then I went on a service trip, and I come back to see what has happened in Oakland.

If you have not seen it, click this video. Police using excessive force against a veteran for peace named Scott Olsen.  The aerial view tells the whole of the story.

This, I believe, is a tipping point for a lot of people.  Certainly the general strike today in Oakland is hope-filled. If you did not know, thousands of protesters shut down one of the largest ports in the country with a general strike today.  It looked like this:

There is a continuum, in other words, of this movement growing.  The strike today represents the first general strike in this country in 65 years.  This is a massive escalation of the movement; this is focused energy. This is the single largest thing this effort has accomplished yet. This is applied, collective, nonviolent action at a grassroots level.  So far, the strike has been free of any arrests.  Action like this changes the world.  They are the litmus of a movement full of life. 

This is a very big deal, and it is not fading, not yet.  No, instead it has begun to reach maturity. Arrests across the country attest to people willing to sacrifice for this movement and for a better world in a nonviolent way.  People say this is aimless. 

I can now say definitively that it is not, both from my own experience and the witness of those people around me.

As I sat around a campfire, doing my differential equations homework for a bit and talking and being present and waiting, I can tell you I felt a better sense of purpose than I have in a long time.  The people around me are not aimless; they want to bring dialogue about the ability for grassroots — not corporate money — to bring about change.  They want to talk about income and taxes and peace.   They welcome new tensions, ideas, and hopes.   And they take these things and put feet to them.  This is happening across the country. This is what is happening 3 blocks from our school.

This movement is fundamentally distinct in our lifetimes.  This movement has so much in the bud.

This movement is imperative, focused, and effective.  And, importantly, this movement is changing the world. This is here, now, and pressing.  You have a voice, eyes, feet, and self.  I’m not imploring you to say occupy is the right way for you to use them.  But I am saying to use them. The world needs you.

Unless we name the world as it is, unless we come into contact and tension with it, we will not act and we will grow.   Growth requires defining oneself when the definitions matter; it requires putting feet to your beliefs.  It requires risking your own view or self being changed.

A lack of action admits a kind of fatalism which says the world is thus.  A lack of action preaches complacency and gives acceptance to the world as it is.  As a Catholic, a lack of action in the world as it is in unacceptable.

The Occupy movement is fundamentally about movement and action.  It is action rooted in the shared and fundamental reality that the world as it is untenable and unjust.  I, in the company and solidarity of the multitude working alongside me in so many different ways, chose to attest with my life and actions my beliefs that a better world is possible.  With my one and only extraordinary life, I will labor to make the possibility of possibilities concrete.  I will labor for this better world. 

I am not alone. All around me, people are waking up.  The movement is alive, and well.
edit 1)  As I finished writing this, crowds organized by the strike in Oakland are once again being tear-gassed.  Keeping informed on the latest developments is critical.  With each passing violent dispersal, this movement will grow.  The whole world is watching.

edit 2) 3 people were arrested at Occupy Omaha last night for “trespassing” — what the OPD apparently calls exercising their right to peaceful assembly.
Occupy Omaha’s Facebook page
Occupy Omaha forum  
Occupy Together 
Al Jazeera’s Spotlight on Occupy

This post does not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of anyone else in the community or the program itself.  All statements here are the express opinion of Tim Nendick.

2 thoughts on “Occupy Omaha, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Movement

  1. Tim, this is really great! I am hoping to hear more about this. It is awesome to see that you have hope in the Omaha movement, they must have done something to impress you.


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