Gives us a superhero, spare the outfit

Originally posted:

Occupy movement could learn from tacky vigilante, ‘ Pheonix Jones

By Peter Dziedzic
Last week, a self-proclaimed superhero, Phoenix Jones (also known by his birth name, Benjamin Fodor), was arrested in Seattle after an alleged pepper spray attack against four people exiting a Seattle nightclub. Clad in a latex superhero costume and mask, Jones claimed that his attack against these individuals was a response to crime rates in his neighborhood. Identifying these individuals as instigators of violence in his community, he decided to take matters into his own hands.
Jones’ story, albeit rather comical and a bit embarrassing, offers a rare jewel of wisdom. While his context and approach was pathetic, poorly executed and ill-informed, Jones’ attack on the four individuals speaks to a very deep-seated issue of our time. That issue is individual and collective apathy, and it’s a pervading reality for many individuals of the modern world.
I do not agree with Jones’ attack, but I admire his spirit of assertiveness and action. In a world where many people feel their issues and identity are lost in a profound system of anonymity and inhumanity, we have often succumbed to believing that taking matters into our own hands will lead us down the proverbial labyrinth of failure. Jones directly challenges this mode of thought by asserting his agency as an individual who is weary of a lack of change in his community. He denied the apathy that was expected of him.
Jones’ situation can also be easily related to the Occupy movement that is sweeping across many American cities. The Occupy movement is allegorically represented by a pre-meditating Jones about five minutes before his attack. He has his pepper spray in hand, his anger’s fed and reassured and he’s carefully watching the opposition, ready to strike. The Occupy movement is at a very critical juncture in its journey. It has the opportunity to turn into a flurry of blind rage expressed through uncoordinated efforts, cyclical efforts of various committees, and uncoordinated dance parties and love fests. It also has the opportunity to meditate and calculate and seek a bold and reasoned response to the seething waves of angst that are propelling the groups forward.
The Occupy movement must carry out its mission of social and economic change with tact and care. We can’t have mobs of Joneses that are blindly attacking the bulwark of corruption in the world. We must not let the spirit of misguided angst and apathy that has become so prevalent in our world become the guiding spirit of this movement and the spirit of the generation that is seeking a different world.
We must make sure that we recognize and contextualize our deep, profound sources of our angst. We must confront it, embrace it, and handle it with immense responsibility and care. While we must continue to be bold in our attempts, our rebuffs and challenges to critics and our presence in our city streets, we must also embody a responsibly coordinated boldness. We must foster a spirit of sincere, perceptive community. We must recognize our limitations, our presence and our power.
In doing so, we embody the courage of Phoenix Jones, but we deny the lust of blind rage and force that accompanied his attack. In this spirit, the Occupy movement will develop a more solid existential base, embrace the diversity of people who have accepted the call to democratic involvement and avoid the employment of metaphorical (and perhaps even literal) tacky latex superhero outfits.