I have been dismayed, amused and, sometimes, downright stupefied at the musings and reports surrounding the Occupy movement, expressed by reporters, politicians, financial sectors and yes, sometimes even the protestors themselves. And although I am by most accounts no expert nor a democratically appointed spokesperson, I offer my perspective on the matter for your consideration.
There are a plethora of complaints out there right now, ranging from treatment of natural resources to 3rd world health, the true value of our money to joblessness. Yet it is not as if these problems have occurred overnight. There was no Occupy movement in 2008 at the height of our great recession. So why now?
We have slumbered during the radical and rapid change in the way we live. Not that long ago people raised families successfully on one income. It now takes two income earners to scrap by. We live in a time of record poverty in pockets of urban centres, centres which make 80% of the population of Canada. I could cite inequity and living wage as the underlying reason for all our problems, but I won’t.
Our taxation system is corrupt is a more common refrain. Financial whizes get away with criminal, callous behaviour is another. I could be tempted to say the economic impact of the way business is done. But again, I won’t leave it at that.
The why now answer is not that these problems exist. The why now is that at its critical peak our governing bodies’ response has been inadequate. It’s about democratic response.
Our democracies are broken. The Occupy movement is not about becoming a political force in their own right. It is about our political forces, of any party, responding to the needs of their citizens.
It is witnessing the repeated failure of even our Canadian, Ontario or even municipal systems, to respond quickly to the irrefutable warnings of credible agencies and individuals on a wide variety of topics from environment to inequity.
The political will to act on the behalf of all 99% has not been there.
We ourselves need to be accountable to the fact we have accepted for far too long the myths propagated to us. We have allowed ourselves to be divided and pitted against each other. We have been in denial about what we see going on around us and allowed ourselves to be lulled into believing ‘they’ know better than us.
I grew up believing Canada was the best place to live in the world. As Canadians we were caring, compassionate and well, just plain nice.
Over the years that has eroded. We have bought such myths as scarcity, people being drains on society and that we are consumers of our government.
I say today that: There is no scarcity. We are as strong as the least of us we let fall behind. We are not consumers or clients, we are the citizens and the government accountable to every one of us.
Elections over the past year have demonstrated clearly that people do not believe that democracy exists any longer.
To Occupy is to engage attention, to fill space and/or time, and to take control.
We are calling our governments to account. What you see are people taking responsibility.
Hopefully, we will never stop Occupying again.