Wednesday, October 12, 2011

THE OCCUPY MOVEMENT

I suppose I should really put this over on my Bears Noting blog, because this is world news kind of stuff. But because it's personal, I'm putting it here. This is me; I'm talking about what's happening in my life.

Well, not just me. And that's the point. This is about us. All of us together.

For a very long time, I have been committed to building caring community — community where people care about each other, and sometimes for each other (if that's needed). And, of course, you don't have to be blogging for very long before you discover a lot of people need care, because they're hurting. Sometimes you can see the hurt, sometimes you can't. But with any hurt, there's pain. Real human pain. The kind with which I've lived for years, decades.

Anyhow. Building caring community. Community what includes everyone.

In North America, this Occupy movement began about a month ago. In other places, like Egypt, Spain, Tunisia, and Greece it began a lot earlier.

1. It began from a feeling which, which had been caught in a movie, 35 years ago. The movie was Network, in 1976. (I won't ask how many of you, gentle readers, saw it then.)

There was an amazing scene when one of the lead characters, Howard Beale (played by the late Peter Finch), tells people to go and yell out their windows, "I'm as mad as Hell, and I'm not going to take this any more." That came at the end of a long soliloquy. And people start yelling.

A lot of people are "as mad as Hell" today, too! I think the proverbial straw that clinched this was the bailout of big banks in the United States. That combined with lack of funds to help the ordinary people of the country.

2. That's when people got serious about asking why things are so wrong. And they recognized, without putting a title to it, that America was a Fascist nation.

Fascist nation? Fascism? Does that sound extreme? It does to me.

But, as Fascist Italian Benito Mussolini put it,"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." If anyone should know, it would be him. He ran a Fascist government in Italy, under various titles, for over 20 years (actually, 31 October 1922 – 25 April 1945).

3. Then people started talking. And gathering. The flashpoint was New York, Wall Street — the heart of the financial district that had been bailed out by the government. Despite very different details in their concerns, there were some common themes.

This is a broad movement with many voices. The main target is the long, slow encroachment on democracy by corporate power. That is the main message: that people want more of a say in determining our future, that we are creating the grassroots democratic structures to discuss and act upon our common issues, and that we will challenge the corporate oligarchy that our political system has become. ~ Occupy Saskatoon

That's the point of the General Assemblies, the key focal element of the Occupy movement. It is people working out their beliefs, values, goals. For a historic comparison, consider The US Declaration of Independence; it took about a month to prepare.

The first concern was to work out, together, exactly what was bothering people who had assembled in New York. Hence, the New York Declaration. (There are longer, updated versions.)

Personally, having been involved in the ethical supervision of animal research, I have a problem with the statement on animal research. But there are lots of things which need further discussion.

Three additional declarations are under discussion, which will likely be released in the upcoming days:
1) A declaration of demands. 
2) Principles of Solidarity 
3) Documentation on how to form your own Direct Democracy Occupation Group.

Here, in River City, we will hold a modest gathering for one day (at least initially one day). That day is this Saturday, October 15th — a day when similar protests are being held around the world. Using my skills from 30 years of journalism, I have helped to shape our communication strategy. A very modest involvement. For a Bear approaching his "best before" date.

I'm not expecting everyone to understand what I'm feeling and thinking; I'm sure there will be people who disagree with my perceptions. That's normal, I think. It takes time for people to understand things.

I'll tell you more after things happen in River City.

14 comments:

Kristy said...

I hope you have a successful protest in River City and are able to make people more aware. The occupy movement applies just as much in Canada as it does in the USA. As, we have corporate greed and misdealings everyday and get to see precious resources sold off to the highest bidder.

Rubye Jack said...

Right on! It sounds like your group is really together and that things are moving as they should. It's been my experience with these kinds of groups that I find myself at my best while doing the right thing and being part of something more.
Thanks for doing this Bear!

The Blog Fodder said...

You have an election going on just now, don't you? Any good Liberals running? Link vs Wall is some choice. I hope Nettie Wiebe gets a shot at leadership of the NDP.

Lydia said...

Wow, I had just posted a bit about the Occupy movement and thought I'd roam over here before shutting down for the night. Your post is wonderful, Bear. I am impressed you are involved there. Thank you for the link to the declaration! I had not read it anywhere before right here! For the most part, the language is exciting. We are seeing something important swell from the masses.

Check out the link I left at the end of my post, as it gives all the Meetup dates/times everywhere, plus the amount of people they are aware of who are involved in each city that has reported numbers. (You may already be aware of the site.)

Nancy said...

You are absolutely right about everything in this post. Our country has been taken over by Facists and it's time to take it back.

Good luck on Saturday.

Helen said...

Dear Bear,
I support your thinking 100% ... I am fortunate to live in a smallish city where folks are super involved in what's happening today - here and everywhere!

Thank you for the compliment regarding my age / 50 year old son. I also have a son who turns 51 today and a son who turned 49 last month..daughter turned 44 last Monday! As you can tell, this mama bear and her papa bear were quite prolific for a few years!

OH! I caught a quick glimpse of that red bow tie as you fled the Ball .. you WERE there .. next year, you must stay longer!

Recovering Church Lady said...

I am proud to "know" you Rob-Bear. Give it your all and you will make a huge difference. Have you ever been in a situation where you felt that possibly you had been preparing for it your whole life? This may be it! Again I want to say that I am proud to be your blog-friend, go for it!

The Golden Eagle said...

I hope the protest went well for you!

Amanda said...

thanks for linking us to the soliloquy from network, Bear. it's as powerfully pertinent today as it was back in 1976.

I look forward to updates about your river city movement - with your passion and ideals, they're lucky to have you on board.

About Last Weekend said...

I really admire you for getting involved with this. it's always so much better to act and write than just to sit on your hands and grumble. Looking forward to seeing what happens in River City. We have had many demonstrations in San Fran too.

Rob-bear said...

Hello, good friends.

I'm kinda "in the middle of things" right now. We had 500 people out for our rally and march last Saturday, and 250 for our first General Assembly. Both were way beyond anything that any of us expected.

This (Monday) is Day Three of the Occupation. Numbers have dwindled because the weekend is over, and most have gone back to work or school. But we've still got about 20 tents of people in the park. The police have basically said, "These are reasonable citizens; we won't bug them." But we chat with a constable or two just about every day. (We have a Police Liaison Working Group, which is doing a very good job!)

I've busy keeping communications going — our blog and facebook page — and doing media relations work on site, too. Which means catching up with a few old friends who are still in the "business," and making some new friends. That's plenty for this ol' Bear. (I can't take credit for the building work on the blog or page; Mark did that — I just keep things going.)

That's one of the learning experiences of this process. We really are a leaderless community. When it's time to meet, somebody says, "let's do it," and we do. And then we choose a facilitator, a recorder and a "stacker," who keeps track of who is going to speak next. Working groups happen because someone says, "I'll do that." But even in the groups, things just happen when someone agees to volunteer. And the person who did that job today may not do it tomorrow. Jobs get done, and get done well, but the leadership is "fluid." Like honey! And sweet it is.

The "official" word is that we're taking it a day at a time. The unofficial word is that we're probably going to be on site through this coming weekend. In tents. With night time temperatures about -7C (that's about 19F) — meaning that it's "bracing" and "invigorating" weather. Fortunately my nice warm bed is right across the river from the Occupation camp. (I can look out our windows and see what's happening over there.)

Will put more info on my blog when this is all over, including some reflections on what I've learned from my experiences.

Blessings and Bear hugs, friends.

Gutsy Living said...

Glad you have the energy to follow through with your goals and visions of what need to be done.
What now?

Rob-bear said...

Thanks, Sonia.
We've been at it for a week. I've been at each general assembly and am now posting notes daily on our General Assemblies at our facebook page, which is https://www.facebook.com/occupy.saskatoon

I'll have more on what's happening in due course. Like the rest of us in Occupy Saskatoon, I'm getting physically tired from all the activity. But I, and the rest, are still in good spirits, despite the below-freezing temperatures at night. (How many of you have tried camping when the world is below freezing?)

Blessings and Bear hugs to all.

Nancy said...

It is time to stand up and take a position. It is time to do whatever we can to make sure the powers that be know that we are mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore!

And you're right - America has been hijacked. We are a fascist nation, a plutocracy, an oligarchy - but we most certainly are NOT a democracy anymore.