Friday, November 18, 2011

Pack up the tents.

The camping trip is over.

That is what many in the media say about the occupy movements around the world. As soon as I had read the articles about the evictions of protesters, many prematurely calling it the 'death' of the occupy movement, I knew that they had completely missed the point. It struck me soon after that the media WANTS the end of the movement, as it fits into their cynical veiw of how long a protest can go on before fizzling into cynicism and frustration, with people going their separate ways.

This cynical effect was multiplied by the nature of the movement in Canada. Here, it never caught on in the parks as it did in the hearts and minds of the average Canadian. There were protests in Vancouver, where notably one protester overdosed and died, and in Toronto, Ottawa, London, and Calgary, among others, but with a strong economy, job market, and strong labour Unions, and with a less-than-disastrous fiscal outlook, the swelling numbers of people attending the occupations didn't materialise. This was not a failure.

The average Canadian understands that what happens in the US directly affects our economic and fiscal policy, and so the movement of occupy, while only tokenly represented in our parks and cities, was overwhelmingly supported by the average Canadian.

Today on CBC radio, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, himself a long time activist, said that the mistake about the occupy protests is that the movement became about the tents, not about the issues. I agree. The 'occupation' may come to an end, and so it should, for many safety and sanitation issues, sure, but more importantly to shift the focus from the tents to the issues.

The movement needs another phase.

So what is that next phase? I don't know.

I can bet that whatever happens, if it is to gain success, the movement will have to first understand that even though the physical occupation will, and must, come to an end, the occupation of the preoccupations of average people everywhere will have to continue. That requires a media presence, and a clearer statement of the ills it is to address. This movement is not about what is going to be DONE about the rich poor gap, or the wealth accumulation of the 1%,  or about any number of issues on their own, but about what is going to be ACCOMPLISHED.

What I mean is that no matter what the direct action of government, or the rich, or any number of other players, the movement can never lose sight of the goals, no matter how nebulous and indefineable. These goals are, and absolutely must be, tied to the individuals effected by the roll-roughshod over rights decades of American and world politics.

The movement will have to measure its accomplishment not in what is offered to appease the group, but in the winning over of each and every person out of work, unable to pay off student debt, unable to integrate after fighting  America's wars, who are denied health care, or everyone, for that matter, who wants an education without debt, or who wants a better world for their grandkids.

A big bill to fit, sure, but this movement is not about a bunch of tents in a bunch of parks. It is about the people, together, requesting, not demanding, a better world, and a future.

The camping trip may be over, but the movement is the same movement that first carved itself on thousands of clay shards in Athens in 400BC ... it is true democracy in action, and no city writ to evict the protesters, no arrests, riot sheilds, or pepper spray, will ever erase the possibility of a better world from our collective hearts.

My wife, Jennifer's, blog can be found here:
Cleverly Disguised as Cake

And my first novel, squeakyclean, here:
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