(Photo by me)
I have this Occupy patch, which I put on my bag when I left the house on Monday. For part of the day, I was nowhere near Wall Street, but I kept it on, and I really wanted people to see it. I think visibility is important, especially with a nascent social movement like Occupy, which folks are so skeptical and nervous about.
So this patch, and perhaps the fact that my brain was swimming with theory and learnings and exhilaration, unexpectedly lent itself to this, gave me a lot of pause that day. I had to find a place to write things and the most obvious option was a Starbucks. But I couldn’t go into a Starbucks. I felt this enormous pressure to not do it, because of the patch. I couldn’t walk into a giant corporate monster with that patch, it would be too hypocritical.
The truth, of course, is that it’s pretty hard to avoid corporations, because they’re everywhere(I’m writing this at the Whole Foods in Union Square right now) and tangled up in a lot of things, and sometimes have cheaper products (for all sorts of nefarious reasons). The point is that I felt like I was being watched, in a good way, as though I was being trusted with this patch and everything Occupy stands for and part of that responsibility was to buy a little less into the bullshit today than I did yesterday.
And then it occurred to me that in some way, the patch was doing what a yarmulke is supposed to do. Wearing a yarmulke announces publically one’s Judaism, and like it or not, allows for and encourages the association of one’s actions with Jews. Thinking about the patch this way had the unexpected effect of both grounding me and pushing me of my (brief but intense) guilt over not having gone to shul. It feels huge and awkward (and vaguely like idol worship?) to make the association between the two, but it also feels accurate.