What started as an awareness raising and ethnographic styled walk through Sierra Leone, this site now details the encounters of a not so academic academic who spends more time occupying Wall Street and squats than a university...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Written 3/7/2012

So I sat at my little rotating cubical yesterday and heard someone asking if anyone had called someone with the last name of Diamond.  It echoed around the room, reverberating to no avail.  Whoever this Diamond was, they had spoken to a woman, as it turns out, the woman they spoke to in our office was on the phone with someone else and couldn't take the call back.  My immediate thought was, so just jump on there and speak to them, help them out, engage with them.  If they're calling back they probably are serious about it all.  What if no one gets to speak to them again? Would they still get involved?

Anyway, as I raised this question, I was met with an awkward look.  "But that is her lead, her contact, and it wouldn't be right for someone else to jump in there and take that call" (i.e. possible contribution).  Well yeah, of course not - if you live in a black and white, me or you world!  It seemed so obvious to me.  If the goal is to raise money to keep fighting for progressive issues like raising the minimum wage or to stop hydro-fracking, then who cares about the credit for a commission or the quota!  Talk to the man!!  I mean if its a team, you could always split the amount given anyway!!

But the work there is about quotas, its about meeting them, and its about pressure being applying on people to get them to their quotas.  Now granted the pressure at this place is probably as low as it gets in a call center in the capitalist world.  They are all great people with good hearts.  But I have seen in a week and a half two people let go for missing quotas, and am watching a guy sitting next to me get smothered by the pressure to step up being put on him by both our boss and himself.  I can feel the worry, the stress, the negativity emanating from him.  And this guy is great!  I really get on well with him.

Again though, and I am going to sound like a broken record pushing for occupying everything and everywhere!  But why is it that in so many places in business and society we motivate negatively?  Get it done or else!  If you can't make this happen, you're out of here!  Now I am not in the room when he is speaking to the boss, and the boss is a really nice guy.  But fact of the matter is, keeping the job is about results.  Nothing else.  This is the way much of our society is structured, and it is unforgiving.

I have found so much love at Occupy, so much encouragement.  Not that there aren't disenchanting issues and/or chaos, even antagonism that turns people off at times, but there is very little pressure to achieve - to personally succeed - that I have felt applied have seen.  We work together, we each bring things to the table and no one seems to be chastised for doing or not doing.  Things are done in groups horizontally, so no one individual must feel the pressure of us all.  At one point, I tried to put a bit of urgency, responsibility on the people in the think tank, and I was not met with any agreement on it.  Occupy is about other things.  I have found it to be about encouragement, personal empowerment through both the self and others, and uplifting others through one's own self.

When I went down the first day, while no one was helping me, no one was standing in my way either.  I was able to find like minded people and do something.  A person stood on their own initiative and they were able to make things happen.  There were no interviews for a position there, there was no pressure.  It was volunteer, it was encouraging, and it was extremely productive as I saw it.  I was never told what I couldn't do.  And no one ever held anything over my head as a repercussion.  I like to think that I felt very comfortable with that and capable.  We got a lot done in the think tank, without the pressure of having to do anything.      

People often times say pressure brings out both the best and the worst in us.  People "step up" to the pressure.  But what about those that don't respond so well to it?  Are they just supposed to be left behind?  If you can't "win" should you be considered a loser if the game isn't best suited for your skillset?  Your passions?  I would say no.  I think we need a social outlet or system that allows for more of our skillsets, psyche's, and passions to be expressed and to have these outlets.

Capitalism often has a winner take all mentality that is exclusionary and which adds a good deal of pressure to 'succeed' to our lives (whatever 'succeed' means).  Occupy is a place that I never felt that pressure.  I felt welcome, I felt capable, and I felt like I could do anything if I saw a need or wanted to do it.  And yeah, maybe that plays into my skillset.  But at the same time, with the Occupy/liberty square setting and context aside, is it possible to imagine a society where no one told you you couldn't do something?  Where no one told you you had to do something?  Where everyone encouraged you, the only pressure on you was your own, and it was to do the things that you felt needed to be done or simply wanted to do?        

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