I was thrilled to the core of my being when people started peacefully occupying cities around the world, taking a stand against corporate greed. And I watched (or tried to watch as coverage—certainly in the beginning—was and is spotty at best) with bated breath, wondering what would happen and how it would all unfold, wishing that no one would get hurt and no violence would erupt. Of course, my best wishes couldn’t stop pain or violence from happening, but that’s—truly—another story.
Why does the Occupy phenomenon touch me so? Oh, there are questions everywhere about what they stand for and is it legit and who’s the leader, and on and on in boring, pedantic circles. I’ve read the articles that insist that people got themselves into this shit by buying into the dream (that if it looks too good to be true, it probably is). I’ve even read a ridiculous rant against young people wasting their time getting degrees in Sociology and such as there is no use for do-gooders in the world and therefore no money to support future jobs in these fields, that these naïve dreamers should instead have been savvy enough to study, say, Mechanical Engineering, for which there are and will be jobs aplenty.
Really? I’m well past my undergrad years, but I have the good sense to know that if I was just starting out I would have to commit myself to something that I a) believe in and b) have some talent or natural ability for. I couldn’t have studied my way to a Mechanical Engineering degree if I’d tried. It’s ludicrous. For better or worse, we are all designed to fulfill different community needs. And this, by the way, is why the community has to support each one of us.
And please don’t tell me you don’t want to support the so-called “lazy people”: because then I’m going to challenge you to convince me that the waitress who slings hash at the local diner doesn’t work as hard as anyone else, doing so for little money, no security, and no benefits. And yet, would you want to live your entire life without the delicious comfort of hot coffee, eggs over easy, bacon extra-crispy and buttered toast (or whatever)? I’ll say it again: We are all designed to fulfill different community needs. Are there lazy people out there? Sure, but their numbers are miniscule beside the staggering number of dedicated, work-to-the-bone, or desperately unemployed masses who can’t get a leg up. They are lazy drops of water in a world-sized bucket.
I won’t lie and tell you that I’m out there on our city streets, occupying Toronto. I’m not that kind of gal (although she’s inside me somewhere, in spirit). I’ve always been an armchair cheerleader, whether for sports or politics. I’m too cautious, too afraid to fumble the ball, too—no other word for it—uncoordinated. But I know when I see a game that rouses me to my feet, gets my blood spinning, spurs me to shout out “Go Team!” at the top of my lungs.
The Occupy phenomenon makes me believe we can and will stand up for one another and that we will insist that we conduct ourselves with honour and compassion. Make money, people, I don’t care about that, I really don’t think most people do. Get rich, spend it how you will. But don’t make it in what would, under ordinary circumstances, be considered criminal and then pretend that’s how business is done. Don’t sell me a bill of goods and then scream that I should’ve read the fine print.
This is my mantra for Occupy: Transparency.
That’s it, in a nutshell. I want the truth. I want all the cards on the table. If you make a mistake, I will accept that. But not if you pull an ace from your sleeve and pretend it’s fair play. Do the right thing—or what you truly believe to be the right thing—in everything you do. Then inform me of your process.
Oh, and one more thing, my unsolicited advice: Occupiers, why don’t you go home to bed every night? Get a good night’s sleep, go back in the morning, freshly bathed and fed. If you don’t, they will tear down your tents, warning of vermin and pestilence, death and violence (and, of course, they will turn out to be right in this). But if you give them nothing to dismantle … they will have nothing to dismantle.
Deb: The world shifts every so often and lately it has shifted to the point where its axis is up its rear. Pain not withstanding, it has provoked us to the point where we are all listening. The generations following Boomer have raised their peaceful fists to say that they are “Mad as hell and they aren’t going to take it anymore.”
Okay, redundant yes, but when a power phrase works, it works! The difference is, they aren’t willing to die for it anymore. They are too smart for that and too savvy. This isn’t Kent State. They won’t be taken shockingly or naively. They know their rights and their cause.
And most of all, they know they have no other choice. The youth are responsible. They are speaking up. We must listen. Because we have listened before. And it worked. At least, for a while it worked. Until it didn’t and needed to be worked again. But this generation has the power of their parents behind them. The parents that walked, that did the sit-in, that did the protest. They understand and they are walking hand in hand with their children, sometimes literally and sometimes figuratively.
And they know there is nothing to fear. Because ... each generation has to step up. If they are going to look their children in the eye. Different issues. Same passion.
Barbara: When I wrote my opener today, I had NO idea that Deb's son Luke and his incredibly articulate, lovely girlfriend had participated in Occupy Montreal and were featured in this CBC news clip. You can see curly-headed Luke right behind the announcer, and when the announcer turns to interview a young woman, that's our Megan!! Serendipity.