I took a break today and drove down to Occupy Austin, but I was too early for the union march that was set for 12:30pm. A friend who was going to meet me there hadn’t made it yet, and I didn’t have time to wait, so my visit was short. Austin’s City Hall was reserved for a Green Festival, so the die-hard “Occupants” were forced to move across the street from City Hall, where there’s an island large enough to hold the encampment, though it was a little cramped. I wandered through. People were wrangling about the day’s march and demonstration, which I later found was moving to the plaza at the Wells Fargo building on Congress Avenue, a few blocks away. I heard later that things were pretty disorganized, or as we like to say, emergent.
My thoughts about Occupy were in flux. I was thinking we don’t really need a radical transformation here, just a restoration of a balance that was lost in the first decade of the 21st Century. We need less “every man for himself” and more “love thy neighbor.” Our economy works when there’s a widespread ethical commitment to each other, a balanced economy, and a real hope for the future. I hear people talk about reinventing economies and reinventing society, but I don’t think we have to boil the ocean.
Something hit me very hard once, thinking about what one little man could do. Think of the Queen Mary—the whole ship goes by and then comes the rudder. And there’s a tiny thing at the edge of the rudder called a trim tab.
It’s a miniature rudder. Just moving the little trim tab builds a low pressure that pulls the rudder around. Takes almost no effort at all. So I said that the little individual can be a trim tab. Society thinks it’s going right by you, that it’s left you altogether. But if you’re doing dynamic things mentally, the fact is that you can just put your foot out like that and the whole big ship of state is going to go.
So I said, call me Trim Tab.