The Movie and the Movement


How to turn the ecological and economic crises into a love story.

More than 80 people gathered at the Grand River Unitarian Congregation on Monday night to watch the World’s Greatest Love Story.

The film Occupy Love is the third in philosopher/filmmaker Velcro Ripper’s trilogy. TransitionKW and Sacred Secular Society hosted this pre-screening prior to the movie opening in theaters on May 3rd. Ripper’s journey of love takes him from Tahir Square in Egypt to Spain’s Indignado movement to the Maple Spring in Quebec and Indigenous activists at Alberta’s Tar Sands.

The film was peopled by well-known personalities like Bill McKibben, Judy Rebick and Rebecca Solnit. But most of this love story was told by ordinary folk who had consciously decided to solve some of the problems facing the world. These “lovers” are seeking a new economic and environmental paradigm, one based on the good of all rather than the greed of the few.

In his travels, Ripper noted that 82 countries had been “occupied”. The spark that ignited  the occupation varied, but at its heart was compassionate activism. People realized that, for many, health, happiness and meaning is not available under the current system. they are coming together to turn suffering into compassion and compassion into action.

People and the planet itself are under attack by economic and environmental forces. As several of the people in the film pointed out, dangerous change is happening now in real time and it’s going to affect us all. They know we can no longer afford the philosophy of work hard, spend hard. They believe that we can actually be happier by being less acquisitive.

As Solnit pointed out, there’s enough available food, clothing and shelter for all, the problem is controlled, profit-driven, unequal distribution. Reebek talked about the avarice of financial companies for whom there is never enough profit and suggested that out of love can come a different way to do things. McKibben noted that Wall Street has been occupying the environment. He said that addressing climate change is not a technical issue, it’s a power issue: “the fossil fuel industry blocks any meaningful change to combat climate change”.

Alberta’s Tar Sands is a prime example of how our economy runs on “cheap” energy. The Tar Sands has brought total devastation to the water and land of native people in what was once a boreal forest. In response, the native people came together to walk to heal mother earth. As one walker said: ” if there wasn’t so much love, there wouldn’t be so much pain”.

Following the film, there was a discussion of what we could do as individuals to show our love for the world we all inhabit. Ideas ranged from recycling to planting trees, joining an environmental group and political activism. Perhaps the night was best summed up by the following notes and observations from Christina Koenig:

From the very beginning of the film I thought that this was a very good movie for people who don’t share our perspective to see. With the use of so many quotations people could really be convinced of the importance of the addressing inequality.

The images of the tar sands are difficult to argue with I mean if you want to see true environmental devastation and a case for taking action now. 

I really like Hart Traveller brilliant name but also it was neat to hear such a perspective coming from someone so young. 

The piece about the healing walk made me think about how important walking is in my own life, and actually the blog I hope to post tomorrow is about this. 

I really appreciated the perspective which was shared in the movie that the way things are currently does not benefit the rich either. Those who are so wealthy are often missing out on the truly important and rich experiences in life. I like this because so often people think that money is the key to happiness.

  like that the film showed the occupy movement in so many countries. I think this really has the power to inspire people to action because there is a feeling that we are all one big community and greater equality economically and otherwise would really benefit us all.

I suspect we went home wanting to “develop a dangerous unselfishness” (ML King) and believing “the more you are motivated by love, the more fearless and free your actions will be” (Dalai Lama XIV).




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