Not another article about the Occupy movement, oh puh-leaze. I know, I know. I find myself bombarded and at times even slightly bored by the number of updates that I receive from the worldwide movement. (Granted I’m subscribed to a dozen or so feeds so what did I expect?) Never mind the rants by friends and strangers alike, on both sides… It’s a good thing the media has decided not to broadcast much news on that (or any) front or there’d be no end to it. And I support the movement, so I can imagine how frustrating it must be to those against it.
It’s those against the movement that have spurred me on though- the naysayers with their faulty logic and weak arguments that are somehow gaining ground (even with normally thoughtful people) with their own set of mantras. As usual (sigh) I find myself on the side of naïveté , having expected more of the masses ironically not involved with the 99%. What I did not expect was the momentous backlash from the “Satisfied with the Status Quo” movement- and make no mistake, there’re no tents or signs or marches, but it’s a movement. All you need to do is log onto the internet for evidence of this group. It’s just a lazy movement, as evidenced by their lack of deep thought.
I want to speak to the arguments the Satisfied with the Status Quo movement has grown so attached to. Number one: “We have it so good in Canada (compared to other nations)- what do we have to complain about?” Ah, good old fashioned guilt with a hint of shame. Born to an Irish Catholic family, I have to say- I have some experience with this tact. But it’s never had the intended impact on me. If an argument is valid, guilt and shame aren’t necessary. And I don’t subscribe to the whole ‘comparative pain’ theory. Can you imagine if we applied that concept liberally? No one but a handful of individuals on the planet would ever have earned the right to complain, or to demand change, because someone, somewhere would always have it worse. It reminds me of the whole “finish your dinner- there are children starving in Africa” argument. “Well, if that’s going to help…”
Besides being a completely illogical argument, it’s wrong. We don’t have it so good. There are too many areas where things are definitely wrong to even begin to address in a single article. How about our electoral system? The proportion of Natives filling our prisons? The fact that during a time of economic struggle we are looking to increase spending on prisons? (Even though crime is at it’s lowest…) The damage we are doing to our environment right here at home, never mind the active role we are playing in destroying the planet on a larger scale? The fact that our government doesn’t see fit to consult us about whether we wish to go to war, or whatever euphimism they choose to use in place of ‘war’, they just go for it with American zeal? Massive misspending and corruption at every level of government? Money to spend on increasing our military might but not on the homeless population (or emergency services) right here in Canada? Documented police brutality that never seems to make it past the point of “investigation”? I haven’t even gotten started. “Better” does not mean “good”.
Which brings me to my second point, and the second part of the Satisfied with the Status Quo movement’s argument. “What will the poorer nations, those who are really struggling, think of us?” “How spoiled,” is the implication, and sometimes direct assertion. You know what? I suspect they already think we’re spoiled. But I suspect it has more to do with the fact that we’re entirely okay with raping their nations for whatever resources they have, using their people as cheap labour, destroying their environments for the massive cash crops we’ve come to ‘depend’ on, supporting tyrannical leaders so long as it’s in our interests (i.e. we benefit in some way), and bombing the hell out of them when the tide turns.
I suspect it has to do with the fact that we have more “environmental” groups in the West than anywhere else on the planet yet are also the biggest consumers, and produce the most waste. I suspect it has to do with our grand speeches to the “world” about minding our carbon footprint and thinking about the generations to come (cue the violins) whilst living high off the hog. I suspect there are any number of reasons poorer nations may see us as spoiled but I don’t think it has one goddamn thing to do with the fact that people are finally standing up and saying “enough” to the status quo. Maybe they’re even a little relieved to know that we’re not all “okay” with the way things are going.
(Don’t even get me started about how self congratulatory those poorer nations must think we are… It’s funny though, isn’t it, that we live in a country where people can get sooo excited that we’ve switched to fluorescent lightbulbs after all these years, it’s as if we pulled off some great environmental feat instead of one teeny, tiny wholly inadequate change but expect other nations to change their entire political and cultural identities overnight.)
And finally there’s the “what’s their point?” argument. What indeed? I have to admit to occasionally wishing “they” would just cut to the chase too. I definitely have a Western attention span. Kind of ideal for my government. While I disagree that there is no direction to the movement (there’s a very clear direction, look no further than the repetitive messages) I do acknowledge it is taking an awfully long time to find out just exactly what the people want. What will make them take down their tents and go home? Good grief.
Alas, I’m reminded of the fact that it may have started in NYC but has rapidly become a worldwide movement, espousing the very democratic values the rest of us are more familiar with in theoretical terms. So it’s taking a while. They’re looking at nothing less than changing society as we know it. At dismantling systems it took years (and years, and years) to build, at taking on a financial system that- let’s face it- controls pretty near every facet of life, at challenging values that see us buying t-shirts ‘promoting’ the environment, that allows our governments to wage wars for resources under the guise of ‘spreading democracy’ or ‘protecting our nations’, that threatens our ability to produce and consume safe (non GMO) foods, that- in a nutshell- is nothing short of fascism in it’s greatest hour. It’s natural that it will take a while to figure out how to address, and what the priorities are. The only way to do it faster would be the top-down democracy we’re so accustomed to. In a true democracy, things are never so swift or tidy- just representative.
You know what? I don’t know if this movement will go anywhere. Once the tents are down and the people have gone home, once our favourite shopping time is upon us, once we have to get back to working 60 hour weeks to pay the rent… I hope not, but it very well may die. Or, or, the movement may drive a change in government. In the general way we presume to govern. It may trigger a change in our dealings with the environment, here at home and in lands beyond our immediate sight. It may (and this is a long shot) send a message to corporations that they cannot buy our countries, never mind the planet. People may start living a little more gently on the land, standing up for others a little more often and more vocally, refusing to be so easily distracted by this bit of celebrity news or that sports event… And maybe not. Maybe the Satisfied with the Status Quo movement will win out, once again, and we will continue the downward slide that’s taken us this far.
I, for one, am glad that the nations of the world know that we’re not all on board with the status quo. We don’t all feel that because we have ‘more’, or have it ‘better’, that what we’re doing is ‘alright’. If for but a moment in time- we had a voice. And we were angry. Vive la revolution!
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