Tuesday, 20 December 2011


Considering the seemingly complex circumstances surrounding the Occupy movement, one could assume its beginnings were reasonably simple.

A group of people who have grown ever weary of the questionable actions of our financial institutions finally decided to speak up and draw attention to this matter in order to promote change.

Simple, right?

Unfortunately it wasn't long before this was viewed by others as the ringing of the dinner bell to voice their concerns on issues related to, but not necessarily pertinent, to the immediate matter at hand; issues like homelessness, race, war, the environment, foreign policy, and capitalism.

Important topics, but ones perhaps best left until a more appropriate time. In order to open a dialogue, the people must speak with one voice. Not an easy thing to do, especially among the supposed 99% of the population. But if this much cannot be accomplished, how can it ever be taken seriously. The central message needs to be conveyed with unity and conviction first before other matters are addressed.

Certain demands of the movement may seem a bit lofty; the suggestion of a presidential commission to separate wealth and government, for example.

A noble sentiment, but let us not mince words — if a change is to be made in this respect, it definitely will not come from the government. The way just about any government depends on the dollars of big business, this would be like asking a drug addict to go cold turkey and straighten their lives out willingly and overnight.

Should it be done? Absolutely. But this rarely happens voluntarily and sometimes an intervention is required, and that is probably the best way to view the Occupy movement - as an economic intervention.

Setting an example of a "new society" was also a bit ambitious as many obstacles that arose were either reflections of or directly a result of the old society; problems like theft, assault, drug dealing, class division, fighting over petty differences, sanitation hiccups and rogue elements who could have tried contributing in the spirit of the changes they so claimed to cherish.

In a supposedly enlightened group of people seeking change, we'd hope these sorts of things wouldn't repeat themselves.

But as they say, Rome wasn't built in a day and it's good that preventive measures were eventually taken to prevent such things.

Without some structure for this new society, however, many of the same silly problems are sure to arise regardless of best intentions. This is why it's important for protesters of anything, despite their understandable frustration, to remember why they're there in the first place.

Set the example. Be the change.

Some of the those who were content to camp out in Zuccotti Park without actively contributing to the cause may not have spoken for those affiliated with Occupy itself, but their presence may have hurt the cause in a few ways, from detracting attention from primary objectives to depending on the welfare of others to just plain scaring away people whom potentially may have sympathized.

The way the media honed in on and emphasized the petty squabbles and infighting between demonstrators only worked to the advantage of parties seeking to discredit the movement and portray its people as whiny, foot-stomping radicals.

(However this was bound to happen as it seems anytime anyone insists on a sudden change to an overdue concern, they're labeled as radicals or *gasp* rebels)

It's difficult to get such a large group of people unanimously agreed on what the purpose of a demonstration may be, but this is one area where an example can be taken from the opposition.

Whether they acted alone or as some kind of mandate, I guarantee you that the bankers, financial advisors, stock traders and other corporate figures demonized by the protestors were not fragmented in their aims to bail out the bankrupt banks who have been content to repossess people's houses for being late with their mortgage payments without practicing what they preach with their own loans from the Federal Reserve.

If their task was to take unnecessary risks and mishandle funds which would endanger the economy, leaving the rest of us to pay the price, then mission accomplished. Obviously, the problem is that there's nothing right about this. The lack of accountability held against those responsible for actions leading to recession and thus an economy in peril only leaves the people affected by it to deal with the repercussions while the greedy get off scot free.

For example, when questioned on the subject of the Lehman Brothers fiasco and why those responsible were not prosecuted, President Barack Obama responded by saying that the practices themselves were not illegal, just immoral or reckless.

This may be true, but if our sacred cash cows can simply pull the rug out from under the middle and lower class free of consequence - a financial hit-and-run, so to speak - what does this say about our society? How can we respect an establishment of bureaucrats whose representatives are immune to the standards the rest of the population are held to? And most importantly, why is this?

But in that one statement alone, we can divine wisdom in those words...

They didn't steal, they just tricked us.

In a complex and far-reaching financial system it's no surprise that there will be apathetic individuals who take advantage of its loopholes and shortcuts. So going forth, we need to keep our eyes and ears peeled to avoid such situations in the future. We need to watch where we put our dollars and give them less of the power.

Imagine what would happen if for just one day no one bought gasoline. The crippling blow through the corridors of power from one full, unanimous day of an oil boycott would get some attention, I guarantee! But everybody needs to be on board. And that, if possible, will take time.

Never forget, WE HOLD THE POWER. Not them.

In all the confusion though, it's nice to know that there is some light at the end of the tunnel. The simplest, most basic goal of the movement — to encourage further awareness of the financial and social inequalities, contradictions and outright lies that have dominated our free world for far too long — was in fact achieved.

And while this may be a moral victory against an institution seemingly void of morals, it is still a victory nevertheless. It succeeded in encouraging others to take up the mantle and stage demonstrations in many other cities across North America, which is no small accomplishment in itself.

If the powers that be succeed in hushing people up, bullying them, stifling their concerns with rhetoric, neglect and pepper spray, then they are the victors.

To those still fighting the fight, I can only say this: DON'T GIVE UP. Don't let them silence you, don't let them shut you up. The eventual outcome may be uncertain and it may take time, but don't make it easy for the people that want you to go away. Give them a challenge, make them to think, but do it intelligently.

Achievable goals are the first step to improvement.

To quote Occupy itself in response to being evicted from Zuccotti Park: "You can't evict an idea whose time has come."

I, like many others, am the 99%...and I say, it's a start.

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