Did you know that 99% of people only wear 1% of the worlds hats?
Okay, so lets talk some Occupy today, mostly because today I haven't said anything about it yet here or anywhere else online. I have opinions, and they demand to be shared! But only because the internet is a mute friend who wants to tell me to shut up but can't say it.
Since the Occupy Wall Street movement began, I've been one confused left oriented political minded gal. At first I thought "all right! Yes! It is time for change! Let us protest!" And thought I might be able to give my support to any and all occupy movements. Yes, I'll admit I am a person who is greatly moved by the history of political protest in North America, and thought at first it's about time that the people started standing up for their rights again. I think that since the 70's there's been a state of ambivalence towards government policy in some facets, and people have become docile, complacent in their hard-earned rights and freedoms. Most of the rights my generation takes for granted (women's right to vote, social equality, children's rights, and even the right to free speech, for example) are all relatively new historically speaking. People had to fight for these rights, and as a society we have grown complacent with allowing governmental policy to alienate and distort our basic freedoms. I do believe that the economy is going to hell in both Canada and the US because we are so strongly intertwined as nations, and I do believe that something's gotta give. It's obvious, the people are unhappy. And, I am currently unemployed and have been so for six months now. So I thought, because of all the convoluted information I was getting about the occupy movement to begin with, that I should look into it more to better understand what I was considering supporting. I went in with the hopeful idealism that perhaps much of the confusion was derived from right wing propaganda. What I learned is that the whole thing is a big fucking mess.
I'm all for protesting, I'm all for standing up for rights and I'm definitely for trying to solve the problems of a dissipating middle class. I do see problems with our government, problems with our electoral processes in Canada and the US, and problems with prohibition and the decline of social services. I agree that homosexuals have every right to marriage that straight couples have. I believe in free speech, and I definitely believe that the government has more to fear in the people they govern than the people should fear their respective governments. But trying to shove all these problems and more under the single "occupy _____" protest sign simply makes no sense to me. What does it even mean any more? With all these subcategories for change, they have lost the heart of the protest, and the point of all of it, and my support.
There's a really good video on YouTube about the points of the current economic decline in the US that I honestly only saw by reading a cracked.com article talking about the occupy protesters who are hurting their own cause. I'll let you in on a big secret: most of my exposure to current events comes from humour news and articles I read online. Stephen Colbert and John Stewart keep me well informed. I had heard only a very minute amount about the occupy wall street protests until I read this article, and the author really expressed how I felt about it then and still feel about it now. You can read the article here. There is another article on cracked.com that also hit home with me, talking about how society affected the occupy generation (mine) which also shed some light on the whole state of the protests. Read that one here.
Anyway, Robert Reich is the man in the video. He seems intelligent as he explains very succinctly the problems the economy has been facing in the US currently. The problems are very similar here in Canada, although they aren't quite the same. If the occupy protesters in the US stayed true to this message, using the simplified explanation to base their platform on, perhaps people could easily understand what they are trying to say. But, someone allowed Occupy to become an open forum for the nation's grievances, and no two protesters will say they are protesting the same thing.
That is, until someone started waving the 99% in the faces of the media.
Now, I agree that there is something fucked about that statistic. There's something very wrong there on a scary level. But again, the protesters I've seen are going about using that statistic all wrong. Instead of educating people about the 99% and what it means, they are just throwing it in peoples' face like a label. And no one wants to be labelled. Everyone I know is in the 99%, I'm not lying, but walking up to someone and yelling in their face "you're poor!" only makes them upset, and makes them dislike you. Trust me, I'm going to have friends take offence to me calling them poor. I'm poor and I hate admitting it myself. I admit as I type on my personal laptop, with a roof over my head and food in my fridge. Yes, I'm poor but by a first world standard. I'm surviving, I've got heat and food and shelter so I'm not really that poor. Thus, telling me I'm poor might get my hackles up. Understand? If I tell you I am poor, that's not a problem. Tell me I am poor, and I say "fuck you too, asshat!"
Now the other issue I have with Occupy, is I am Canadian. The problems we have here in the great white north are not the the same as our southern neighbours. Tagging along with the Occupy protests here in this country makes little sense to me. The system is different, our governments are separate. Wake up people, you don't live in America, you're Canadian. Our problems, albeit similar, are NOT the same. By taking up the occupy mantle all you have done is convolute the message further, by tacking on a whole new list of grievances.
The other thing that really bugs me about occupy is it seems more and more like the protesters are protesting their inability to find "good jobs". What is a good job anyway? I just went through a career decision making course this past spring, and it opened my eyes to the current job market. The degree you were told you need? It might help, but you didn't need it, because even with it you are still going to have to fight your way into the career you want. Many people have spent thousands of dollars getting degrees towards getting the good job, and then don't get it because someone with real world experience won it over you. Protesting that you can only find work flipping burgers is ridiculous. Flip those fucking burgers and just keep looking. At least you're getting real world experience. An employer might look at your resume and go "Oh, you are currently employed at McD's, and are in a management position. That shows stick-to-it-ivness, and that you are a manager means you are capable. I will steal you!" I've always found it easier to get a job when I already have a job, even if it's a dumb one. I'm not saying that having the piece of paper identifying that you in fact have taken that 4 years to solidify your knowledge in the field is a bad thing, but it doesn't always make it easier, it doesn't give you a foot in the door. You still have to network and throw yourself in the face of the job market with a neon sign over your head that says "I'm Awesome! Hire me!" and hope your sign is brighter than the other buddy applying. Highschool and college are not the real world. They are nothing like it. Real world experience beats paper, like scizzors. And who doesn't respect a classic rags to riches story of the boy working in the hardware store who really wants to be an actor and gets discovered at random to play the heart throb role of his life? See, even Harrison Ford had to start doing physical labour.
I didn't go to college. I've taken like, 2 courses and dropped out. I'm that gal, it's true. I've applied to go, been accepted, and then didn't go because the $ sign freaked me out, and the insecurity in my own ability to later pay off that $. I know that I will probably have to work a blue-collar menial labour job for most if not the rest of my life. Hell, I'm only 24 and I've worked twice as many jobs as my fiancée who is 35. So don't get me wrong, I'm not complacent in working for a shit hole company either. Sometimes the thought of having to work in retail until I die sends me into rage or despair, or a very fun and volatile combination of the two. Perhaps I should go spend thousands of dollars I don't have, and take out thousands of dollars in loans that I might not be able to pay back to get a piece of paper saying I am qualified for something. But realistically? I don't know if that's ever going to happen. I dream of being a published author and a designer one day. Do I really need a piece of paper saying that someone has graded me well on such subjective topics? I mean, fuck I'm an artist, and it's what I want to be. I've resigned myself to the struggle that is art. Hell, perhaps I will never be recognized in my life, big whoop. Neither was Van Gough or Lovecraft. But protesting that fact? That just makes you look like a spoiled brat who wont put the legwork into your achievements.
I'm not saying the people shouldn't rally for change, I mean in the end we all want a good job, and the good life. But unfortunately, the world doesn't work like that, you have to put in what you expect to get out. There are no winners and losers in life, just livers. And I don't mean the organ. Even if you are poor, even if you have to break your back to work for a pay-check every day of your life, you are still alive. You beat death another day, so in my books that's a win. It shouldn't matter if someone else got the job you wanted, you are still living. You're a liver. You win. So what some asshole makes more money than you. Find happiness in other things than the material.
When it comes to the Occupy movement, I'm lost. I love the idea of fighting to maintain the struggling middle class. I don't want to see the western world as I know it collapse, I love my comforts and freedoms. The economy is going to hell, and the people are unhappy. They are restless and angry, and we have the internet which has taught us we all have a voice to be heard by someone. Revolution is only a natural progression of these kinds of problems. But what is a revolution without any solutions to the problems? To me, the worst part of Occupy is the list of grievances without suggested solutions. We can all sit and bitch about the state of things all we want, but we have to have a plan for change for any protest to work. And I'll say it again, something's gotta give. But Occupy will never work.
Why will Occupy never work? Because of stupid people jumping on the bandwagon, convolution the message. Because it makes young people, with the best intentions and the biggest dreams, look like spoiled brats who don't want to get a job. Because of people building tent cities, partying and rioting and OD'ing in the name of Occupy. Because of rumours about officials burning literature connected with the occupy protest, which prove unfounded. Propaganda is coming out of this on both sides, and it makes people like me throw our hands in the air and back away rather than get involved. Call me jaded, but this movement is going to be flushed like most other movements reserved for the bathroom.
You want to occupy something?
Did you know that only 99% of the worlds population wears 1% of the worlds hats? That's a staggering figure.
In the end, I see myself as a hopeful person. An optimist. I really really do hope that on some level Occupy works, and that someone in power will see that people are restless and start trying to do something about it. Although it's received a lot of negative attention, I hope others will take what started here and simplify the message, and work on solutions. All these problems DO need to be addressed, but no one likes a whiner. Roll up your sleeves and think out solutions before you open your mouth again, and keep it simple. This is only a beginning, all Revolutions start somewhere. Yes, Occupy is a joke. But, despite my belief it will not work, I do see it opening peoples eyes to a flawed system that is begging for an overhaul.