A blog post by Nozomi Hayase entitled The Rise of the Occupy Insurgency, The World’s First Internet Revolution #OWS from October 2011 got me thinking about the what exactly the Occupy movement was all about.
I remember Occupy Edmonton’s protests against the 1% taking place in the downtown core in a little park just a couple blocks from where I work. I’d pass by almost every day. The first thing I always thought when seeing this group was that they would freeze to death in the winter. After that my question was: what exactly are they protesting? Yes, they were, like Occupy Wall Street, fighting against the oppression of the 99% by the 1% who make millions of dollars a year and who dictate how our capitalist society works. But, underneath that there was a heavy mix of issues that were being brought to the fore. Environmentalism, rights of the First Nations, equality for all genders, age, race, sexualities, etc. were being touted as reasons for the movement.
Discussing this with co-workers, we agreed to an extent with the protesters, that, yes, life isn’t fair. Should a CEO be making millions of dollars a year with tax breaks while thousands of employees are getting by on minimum wage? After all, without the 99% there would be no money to be made. Despite that, we questioned how these protesters even had the time to be there, living day in, day out in a tent on privately owned land. Didn’t they have jobs?
Myself and others I knew weighed the options and decided that having a job and career was more important than fighting “the man.” How else are we going to pay the bills and get ahead? Those of us who have what we think is security are too scared to lose that safety net. There is too much at stake. I cannot speak for those who participated in Occupy Edmonton, but perhaps they had nothing to lose by being there. Hence, my question to them is: did you gain anything in the end? I hate to be the bearer of bad news. Things haven’t changed and things likely won’t for now.
Don’t stop on my account though. Keep doing what you’re doing. If May 1, 2012 was any indication that you intend to continue, I wish you luck. I hope that one day you see the world you need.