Infancy Conforms to Nobody

The mainstream news sources have one thing right: this movement is definitively ‘fledgling’, ‘nascent’, and ‘inchoate’. But here’s the thing about infancy: we don’t usually demand perfect coherence, let alone a clear agenda, from a newborn – we celebrate and admire it coming into the world at all, with a body and consciousness to boot. Though extremely fragile, a newborn baby (or social movement) is undeniably at the developmental stage of greatest potential.

And, just as with human maturation, the Occupy movement can grow into greater clarity of expression and direction. But we don’t pester a toddler with existential questions or 10-year-plans. We recognize its potential and innate enthusiasm for life, and we support it.

This is the task of today with respect to the Occupy movement and the road ahead. The movement’s ability to evolve will come from experience, from knowing itself and the world. So at just 4 weeks of age, it’s still getting oriented, situated and coming into its senses and capacities. It has a body and with it lots of momentum. Its voice may seem simplistic at times, chaotic in others, but it will continue to grow into itself, at an exponential rate.

With diverse backgrounds and grievances, more and more people are waking up to an experience of shared humanity and the sickness plaguing society on all levels and in all sectors of society. The political, economic and cultural crises of today are asking us to wake up and grow into the responsibility of perceiving bigger and better pictures with which to occupy the future.

With continued dedication to an inclusive process, crystallized pictures and steps forward will emerge — and that will be their power — that they’ll emerge not from some top-down edict or tired political ideology for next steps. People are actually beginning to see civil society as a force to be recognized, and reckoned with, next to business and government.  So this first stage of the movement’s development, of self-awareness, is exciting, and should be celebrated as a point of power not instability, potency not diffusion. Hopefully it’s this kind of awareness and solidarity that can fend off antics like Mayor Bloomberg’s effort to clear out the occupation Friday morning.

– Sarah Hearn

What pretty oracles nature yields us on this text, in the face and behavior of children, babes, and even brutes! That divided and rebel mind, that distrust of a sentiment because our arithmetic has computed the strength and means opposed to our purpose, these have not. Their mind being whole, their eye is as yet unconquered, and when we look in their faces, we are disconcerted. Infancy conforms to nobody: all conform to it, so that one babe commonly makes four or five out of the adults who prattle and play to it. So God has armed youth and puberty and manhood no less with its own piquancy and charm, and made it enviable and gracious and its claims not to be put by, if it will stand by itself. Do not think the youth has no force, because he can not speak to you and me. Hark! in the next room his voice is sufficiently clear and emphatic. It seems he knows how to speak to his contemporaries. Bashful or bold, then, he will know how to make us seniors very unnecessary. – Ralph Waldo Emerson


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