Our Methodology

How We Can Make the Change We Wish To See

We have now opened a venue for our voices to rise up, a forum for us to speak openly about what we wish to change, and now we are left with the “how”. How do we make the changes? This is when tactics and the methodology of such need to be discussed at length.

When you think of the tactics of a sociopolitical movement, what comes to mind? I am sure the first and most prominent of all the tactics are marches, sit-ins, and walkouts. These tactics are necessary to make points, they disrupt the lives of everyday people, people who may not be aware of your concern, your goal. It is meant to stop people, it is meant to be thought provoking, it is meant to start conversations. We all know that blocking an intersection is not going change policy, we know that chaining yourself to the inside of a bank is not going to make the bank change it’s practices, overnight. The point of these tactics are to initiate dialog. These are performance pieces. These are our outreach. These are our start.

But within this, I’ve seen a breakdown in the Occupy movement. I have seen marches in which people have been left asking, “why?” and there has been no solid answer. There is a cacophony of voices shouting varying messages, very loudly, so much so, that not one voice is heard. There is only the load roar of anger, frustration, and in this we have missed opportunities to spread our message. When dealing with a direct action, there must be a direct message, a clear reason, a focus.

The point of these tactics are to initiate dialog. These are performance pieces. These are our outreach.

Though our anger, our frustration, are the initial reason we wish to take to the streets, the reason we initiate direct action, it is vital that we make a focused concise point when we are acting. We must be able to answer that “why?”, and we need be able to make sure that answer is loud and clear and in conjunction with what we are doing. So, you want to block an intersection, first there should be a point: what is your message? Second there should be a coherent connection. If you would like to shut down a major highway, you must make sure that your message aligns with that action. If you are shutting down a highway to protest the oppression of the lower and middle classes, your message will not be heard. You become an annoyance to those that might be sympathetic to your cause, because you are, in a sense oppressing those that you say that you are fighting for. This shuts down the conversation. They are no longer hearing your views, because the tactic you have used has alienated those that you see yourself fighting for.

If we can’t answer that “Why”, then why are we here? Why are we spending all this valuable passion and wasting it through thoughtlessness? If we aren’t communicating what we want to change, then how can we change it? How can those who may be unsure, or completely unaware of the problem help, if they don’t know what they should be helping with? We should make sure we make that conversation open, understandable, coherent. This is our first impression, often, and we should treat it as such.

But, you see, these disruptive tactics, though crucial, are not the only direct actions you can take. Whenever there is an exchange of ideas, there is direct action. Communication on any level is a direct action. These communications can range from a conversation with a stranger on the street, to the organization of a book club, to the calling of general strike. And though, we may feel the strongest and most empowered when putting on a large demonstration, the need for smaller scale conversation is so important, so vital, but often overlooked. With these conversations, others will hear your point more in depth. They can start to hear your reasoning, your side, and the nuances of your side. And within those smaller conversations, you are able to grab the attention of those that you may have otherwise missed. When you are able to have an actual conversation with an individual, you not only have the chance to affect them, but also affect yourself. You may hear a new argument against your side and with that you are able to refine your own, strengthen it, and take it to others, stronger. And within that you take advantage of an opportunity, which usually, you miss.

Tell them to come and create change with you. Then take those supporters, those who have seen you, agreed with you, and joined you, and change the world.

Opportunities are what movements thrive off of. We must take advantage of opportunities in a variety of ways, through using a diversity of direct action, a diversity of forums, a diversity of voices, and also using a diversity of resources. Resources are something that we must utilize. It is often said that you should not reinvent the wheel, and why should we? There will be someone, some organization, whether it be non profits or political parties, who have been fighting for what you are fighting, probably much longer, and much more in depth. These people have been working on these issues for years, and they often have access to resources, whether power, money, or informational resources, that the average individual citizen does not. Instead, as a movement we should endorse moves to work with others. Working with these groups does not mean we endorse all of their actions, or all of their ideals, but in that we should understand that on this one point, we do have common ground, and why overlook an ally, just because we do not believe in everything our ally does? We should utilize them, take advantage of the roads already paved, because when it comes down to it, I think we’d all like to see change, actual change. And to see change, we must use every resource available.

So, with every sit-in, walk-out, die-in, blocking of traffic, storming of a building, flash mob, meeting, conversation, with it all, we should make sure there is focus. Bring your ideas for direct actions to meetings, whether they are meetings of 100 or 3, talk about your ideas, propose them to your friends, family, and strangers. This discussion is instrumental in perfecting your ideas, clarifying your point. And after that discussion, take that clear, thought-out message to the street. Take to the streets and tell everyone why you are angry. Tell them why they should be angry. Tell them that they aren’t alone in being angry, frustrated. Tell them to come and create change with you.  Then take those supporters, those who have seen you, agreed with you, and joined you, and change the world.