Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Occupy Me

Barbara: Can of worms time maybe, but that’s what a blog is for, isn’t it? Certainly ours is—I want to be as honest as I can with this great community of amazing souls. So here goes.

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.

Go Team!

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.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. (P.S. sorry for the confusion of Holly's comment removed by the author. My computer is possessed and keeps signing me into her account).

    Barb, you could not be more right!!! As you know, Occupy Wall Street is still going on if I do believe. About 50 students at the college where I attend went. Some of them were dead on in the protests, as for others, I think they just wanted the free NYC trip.

    For me, it's important to KNOW what you stand for, believe it, and PURSUE it!! Oh man, you've got me fired up. I was just talking with my friend about the hardships we are both going through called NURSING SCHOOL. But I told her that you have to WANT this; you have to want it because you believe it's a calling.

    Deb, I found Luke in the video! Was he holding the sign that said "It's not Ok" GO HIM!!! :]

  3. I would like to say a big freaking THANK YOU to Luke and Megan for representing our generation well! :)

  4. No worries, Kelly. Great comment, though, so thanks for posting. "You must want it because it's a calling" -- yes!
    PS I keep signing in as Deb and Barbara but that's because I'm having issues with my other profile. PPS I so meant for this post to go up tomorrow morning, but the scheduler (which I checked at least TWICE) took matters into its own hands...

  5. Hey, Holly, yay! We cross-posted

    (it IS Holly this time, right?!) B

  6. Here in Los Angeles the Occupy LA participants for the vast majority have nowhere to sleep at night, have no homes to go to and most were homeless to start with. Unfortunately, the worker bees do come and go home at night while the rest sleep there. Now the papers are beginning to say it is all addicts, homeless and mentally ill but I went there a few weeks ago and while the majority seemed to be exactly that they were neat and everyone was fed and bathrooms were to be found around the compound. They were sitting playing instruments. However, there was no signup sheet for anything, no want talking or ranting. There was a medical tent and the rest were all doing their own thing. I actually was disappointed for a city this big to be this disinterested. Supposedly, the weekends have more going on but nothing is in our papers or on the news on internet. Seem to just let them be. I had hoped for more and was prepared to give my time but left after wandering around with a few hi's from the protesters. This was the not the protests I remember from the 60's. I agree with the protesters but hope they do show some enthusiasm here in LA.

  7. In my pessimistic mind, I immediately pictured the Occupiers down in the streets surrounded by skyscrapers in which rich businessmen looked down their noses on them and sneered.

    Maybe this will make a difference. Maybe the powers that be will actually HEAR what is being said, RESPECT what is being said, and, dare I say it, ACT ON what is being said in a positive way.

    However, when we live in a country that allows senators to grant themselves their own raises, I hesitate to say this latest action will be the success the participants, and the rest of us, hope it will be.

  8. Oh, Madge, I did read your FB message about visiting the LA Occupy zone and being hopeful but then underwhelmed. And I realize that many of the Occupiers are homeless (here too)-- I hesitated to bring that into the fray because of course, you can't tell a homeless person to go home to sleep and wash up. And yet, I worry that staying there all the time drains the energy of the sit-in on the one hand, and gives the naysayers distractions to focus on on the other...Just my opinion...

    Dawn, I hope hope that the message will be heard in the end. I really do.

  9. Okay here's your morning giggle. My first protest was a sit in on the front lawn of our highschool. When the announcements started, right after singing the National Anthem we all marched out! Except a few browners who stayed behind sharpening their pencils. We sang "we can work it out" and the issue was allowing girls to wear pants to school. Up until that point we were only allowed pants on GRUB day. I will never forget the feeling of power that peaceful protest brings. Add to that the fact that it was the time of the mini skirt and we get cold weather in the winter. So yeah we believed in what we were fighting for! worked. Small issue but big results.

  10. Bravo, Barb and Deb and Luke!

    I can't afford to go to Occupy Atlanta, but I'm occupying my blog every day trying to illustrate what it's like to become part of the new struggling class. I don't even know what to call us anymore.

    I've spent so much time lately wondering why it's so easy to attack this almost mythical person "gaming the system" instead of trying to fix the terribly rigged system. Why aren't more people demanding that?

    My favorite line in this post, a post full of favorite lines?

    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.

    Amen. Bring back compassion and community.

  11. Lisa, you are so brave in your ability to wade into the muck. I so admire you, for your words on your blog (and ours :) ),and for your courage in life. Love you!

  12. Did you hear the Mayor of Montreal's speech? I am impressed by that man. It was on As It Happens (CBC Radio) last night.

    I live two hours away from either Saskatchewan city where there is an Occupy protest, but am thinking about what I can do to support the protesters, and maybe I can send some cash to someone in the city who would distribute sandwiches or something.

  13. Kate, on the first day of Occupy Toronto, I was in the city shooting a short film. I decided I was going to Occupy Toronto until, you know, it was time to go home and have a glass of wine and a bath (oy, me). But I drove in circles, searching, and found nothing! Turns out they hadn't occupied Bay Street (our equivalent of Wall Street), but St. James Square. I missed it! That said, haven't been back, despite my ambitions. The Toronto Star published a great story about the men and women who bring water and clothes and food to the occupiers. Love that. I missed the As It Happens story. Will look out for it. Thanks!

  14. Read both your blogs all the time...Here I go...weighing in for the first time....The 60's was an easy protest. The villians were identifiable and the crime was on the news every day...Vietnam....Racial and Sexual Inequality..Above ground nuclear testing(Amchitka)...There were leaders to villify...there were laws and legislation to be written..there were civil rights to be legally inforced....It was LBJ...It was Nixon..It was the U.S. Military machine...and WE were the political(VOTES) and economic($$$$) force that would change the social landscape for generations.....and this is where I have felt so sorry for the youth of today....they are frustrated and angry...but..Who is Wall Street? We know there are crimes....but who do you criminally charge.....that won't be replaced by another corporate V.P. in a heart beat! The issue is too vague...The criminals are faceless...Why has not one candidate for President in the States stood up and said they will make this right? Or are they just there to maintain the status quo? The real power for change is in the VOTE and in our $$$$!
    The real agents of change are at work today...are attending high schools, colleges and universities...are raising families..they have homes where voter registration is secured....they have bank accounts where online buying can change economic direction....The Agents of Change are not in Tents! Sadly... most are the same people who "asked me for Change" the last time I was at Yonge and Bloor....The agents of the Status Quo want the Tent People there a little that the Occupy Movement will be defined and remembered by what is Left(pun intended)... today's Tent People are tomorrow's Sewer Grate People...The weather has is getting cold outside...I hope that the real Agents of Change are still thinking...planning...organizing...mobilizing.......THEIR VOTES and THEIR $$$$

  15. Scott! First of all thanks for reading. And secondly, thanks so much for choosing to weigh in today of all days. You make so many great points. Our young people have to VOTE (happily mine do, and they GET IT, but sadly, they're not the norm). I fear that your pronouncement of why some might want the occupiers to stay might well be true -- feeds right into my niggling worry that they need to take down their tents if they want to keep stoking the resolve to move forward. Right now, the movement has a majority support in Canada, but that could change in a heartbeat given worst case scenarios. But the homeless need help and compassion too and are very much a part of the whole problem/discussion. Bottom line, we need to keep our younger generations involved in the push. They/we CAN change the vicious cycle.

  16. PS that (points up) should have been signed Barbara (sorry!)

  17. I'm kvelling to hear about Luke & his GF Meagan participating in grass roots democracy!
    I've always liked this phrase:
    "Where am I going?
    I don't know.
    When will I get there?
    I ain't certain.
    All that I know is
    I am on my way!"

  18. Barb, you make a good point - not all of us are designed to be engineers. I'm a philosopy major from many, many moons ago. My concern is that the occupy movement is going to become irrelevant - something like the homeless person we walk by five or ten times a day but never see because we're wrapped up in our own package. Your notion of going home and recharging is a good one because then the picture would change and people might become more inclined to take a renewed interest. Who knows?

  19. Viewpoint2010 -- Yes, exactly! People are easily inured, so a change up could be effective. As you say though, who knows... (and PS, I can't help wondering if people gave you flack for wanting to be a philosophy major? Much as flack could have been thrown at me -- but wasn't -- when I chose to study acting at university.)

    Sharon, thanks for the rally cry! That's a perfect one.


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