Why Occupy

24 Nov

Don’t you know, they’re talking ’bout a revolution, It sounds like a whisper

Don’t you know, they’re talking ’bout a revolution It sounds like a whisper

While they’re standing in the welfare lines

Crying at the doorsteps of those armies of salvation

Wasting time, in the unemployment lines

Sitting around, waiting for a promotion
Don’t you know, they’re talkin’ ’bout a revolution It sounds like a whisper

Poor people gonna rise up and get their share

Poor people gonna rise up and take what’s theirs

Tracy Chapman, Revolution

I have to admit I don’t fully understand this. I agree with the basic premise that they are protesting. The economic divide is worse than it has ever been. In the United States right now 99% of the nation’s wealth is held by 1% of the population. (In Canada the divide is not as great but it’s growing.) It’s okay to be wealthy in a capitalist society but when that wealth is gained by kicking other people down it’s not okay. I understand bailing out big banks so they don’t collapse but think of how different the situation would be if the same amount of money had been given to the home owners who were losing everything. Or perhaps, the bonuses that were still given to the CEO’s could have been paid into a fund for people who were losing their jobs.

If the people who were the other 99% were doing okay then it wouldn’t be as big of deal. However, the middle class is disappearing, soon there will only be upper and lower class and where do you think you and I will land? This movement has been growing for years as I think John Q, a 2002 movie starring Denzel Washington, showed how the average Joe (or John Q. Public as our title character) can lose everything so easily. Don’t think we’re immune in Canada just because our hospital care is paid for. Prescriptions aren’t, medical supplies aren’t. I know people who have to choose between food and prescription drugs or rent. The protests make sense to me.

However, I don’t really get the whole occupation. Originally it was a novel idea that brought attention to an issue in North America that would have continued to be ignored otherwise but now it is bringing out more attitudes. We have issues with police using excessive force and pepper spray. We have people upset that their public spaces are not accessible. And we have people that want nothing to do with outright civil disobedience and I think that’s where I find myself.

A better idea to me is for the movement to continue general assemblies and teach-in’s but to go home at night. That way there is some visibility but no built in excuse for people to hate it. It just seems like the illegal occupation has stopped the conversation.


Posted by on November 24, 2011 in Occupation Movement


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5 responses to “Why Occupy

  1. jordanduerrstein

    November 25, 2011 at 2:35 AM

    I think that the people who were occupying Zuccotti Park, St. James, and everywhere else were so very excited to get started on their movement that they wanted outright civil disobedience.
    You want nothing to do with outright civil disobedience. I’d be ok with some civil disobedience – like peacefully refusing to comply with some laws as political protest.

    I think we need to look at the beginnings of the civil rights movements for some guidance. Small sit-ins was where it all started. You’d have people asking to get served and refusing to leave diners for ‘white folks only’. They very very slowly began filling prisons. Then as the movement gained momentum and understanding the movement exploded. I don’t think in the 1968s, after witnessing the assassination of MLK Jr., people would believe you that 40 years later the US would elect a black president. This movement created lasting change.

    Are general assemblies and teach-ins effective enough for lasting change? Maybe after more assemblies have gathered and teach-ins have occurred, involving more people (everyone) in the conversation, people then need to turn to occupations (civil disobedience) once again.

  2. An Embarrassment of Freedom

    November 26, 2011 at 10:04 PM

    I admire people who are brave enough to have an opinion and act upon what they believe is right.

  3. cupconversations

    November 27, 2011 at 2:16 AM

    I agree with you both (and feel like a bit of a chicken for staying home). However, I think that the civil disobedience in our North American culture is considered too radical. It did do the job during the Civil Rights Movement and it was the same culture…. Gosh, now you’ve got me rethinking my opinion. Thanks (and I mean it for real).

  4. arbohl

    December 2, 2011 at 2:55 PM

    Solid post. I love the poem you posted. I think people forget how important it is to be able to protest and have that freedom, no matter whether or not they agree with the cause.

    • cupconversations

      December 3, 2011 at 2:05 AM

      Thanks for your kind words (and for loving Tracy Chapman). Now that the occupations have ended in most of North America it’s important that we don’t stop talking.


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