Occupy Love watches Occupy movements unfold around the world, inviting everyone to join. You won’t need to protest in the streets to take part. You only need to be mindful and to act with compassion. The film is now streaming.
How could the crisis we are facing become a love story? Director Velcrow Ripper (Scared Sacred; Fierce Light) asks this question throughout the film. Rich visuals and interviews with leading visionaries reveal love as interconnection and interdependence.
The dominant system of power does not serve people, the film says. Neoliberalism fails to promote health, happiness, and true prosperity for most. “We’re trying to create a world that works for everyone and for all life,” Ripper explains.
The beginning is here
The director confronts both darkness and light. Visiting activist hot spots around the world, he returns often to Occupy Wall Street in New York City. There he speaks with occupiers, watching democracy flourish in new ways. Police actions ensue. “Something’s different. We’re not just protesting. We’re discussing. There are no leaders offering ready-made solutions,” he observes.
Ripper rides the wave, visiting Tahrir Square, Egypt; the Indignado movement in Spain; an indigenous healing walk at the Alberta Tar Sands in Canada; and climate justice uprisings in the U.S. and beyond.
Occupy Love reveals the filmmaker’s own personal growth and practice of engaged Buddhism. It captures the feeling of real connection as people gather and talk about things that matter.
A feast for your mind
Neoliberalism “calls for the rule of the market above all and seeks to eliminate social services, privatize everything possible, and maximize profit,” Ripper notes. Yet division is no longer an option. “The system isn’t working for the one percent either,” says Charles Eisenstein (Sacred Economics).
“Everybody wants to live a life of meaning,” he observes. Many suffer from “the loss of community, the loss of connection, the loss of intimacy, the loss of meaning.” Eisenstein notes that “Joint consumption doesn’t create intimacy. Only joint creativity and gifts create intimacy and connection.”
“An economist says that essentially more for you is less for me,” he explains. “But the lover knows that more for you is more for me too.” Ultimately “love is the expansion of the self to include the other. And that’s a different kind of revolution. There’s no one to fight. There’s no evil to fight. There’s no ‘other’ in this revolution.”
Crises signal evolution
“Having people disconnect, see one another as enemies is so crucial to the maintenance of that dominator system,” says bell hooks (All About Love).
“This shift from hierarchical to lateral power is going to change the way we live, the way we educate our children, and the way we govern the world,” notes economist Jeremy Rifkin (The Foundation of Economic Trends). “We have to create the basis for an empathic civilization.”
“Crises are always the starting points for evolution,” says Elisabet Sahtouris, evolutionary biologist.
Earth calls out for healing
Climate change is happening now, says Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org. “So far since Kyoto we’ve done essentially nothing as a planet to deal with climate change. In the end it’s not a technical issue, it’s a power issue.”
The destruction of the boreal forest at the Alberta Tar Sands “is a final colonial pillage that’s going on right now,” says Naomi Klein (The Shock Doctrine). “This is the vision, to save the economy by clawing away at the Earth in the most violent way, pretending that climate change isn’t happening.” “I cried when I saw the devastation that’s happened,” says Tom Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network.
“The same mentality that trashes people trashes the planet,” Klein asserts.
A feast for your soul
“What is justice?” asks hooks. “The heart of it is really longing for people to be able to grow and develop freely in a positive and constructive way.”
“Being awake is love,” says Roshi Joan Halifax. “Being not separate from all the suffering, all of the emptiness, all of the compassion, all of the wisdom.” “There’s so much profound uncertainty that is in the weave of the world today,” she adds. Some become resigned, while others are “walking the knife’s edge.”
“There’s a love emerging now that’s coming from our creativity, that’s yearning for joining because it can’t fulfill itself alone,” says Barbara Marx Hubbard (The Foundation for Conscious Evolution). “Love can be the liberating force for humanity,” says James O’Dea (Cultivating Peace). “It’s so primal and so simple like light, that if it’s allowed to move through us, its movement is endless, its creativity is endless.”
Creating “a beloved community”
Feminist activist Judy Rebick sees OWS as “a loving atmosphere with a lot of excitement about discussing ideas and proposals. It is becoming a love story. And out of that love and that connection of people to each other, you’re going to create.” It looks like what Martin Luther King, Jr. called “a beloved community.”
“The love story is people getting to know each other for a change based on their human experience,” says Malik Rhassan of Occupy the Hood. Rhassan says he spent every day at OWS. “I’ve never felt so human in my life . . . watching the homeless get fed every day. Watching people who would not normally have dialogue with each other talk every day.”
How to change the world
Finally, Ripper sees “a messy, imperfect, human love.” He told Reality Sandwich that “Occupy is still alive in different forms, whether Occupy Sandy or the Strike Debt movement, or Idle No More, or Transition Towns, or the emerging gift economy.”
“Find out what your gift is,” Ripper told We Are Change Connecticut. “Unwrap it. Bring it out into the world and figure out how that can align with being of service to your community and the planet.”