Monday, 17 October 2011

Occupying Toronto, Part I

After my neighbour called me out for being at home doing a crossword on my front porch instead of joining the protestors downtown, I decided to head for the subway. She never attends such marches and rallies herself, but knows that I’m a demonstration junky. I joke that my favourite part is getting to walk in the streets shouting my head off. It feels great yelling chants like, “Hey Mister, Mister! Get your hands off my sister!” or the favorite call and reply chant, “Whose streets?” “Our streets!”

In truth, I am always interested in what issues motivate people, and often they hit the streets for reasons that matter to me, too. However, I hadn’t been moved by this new “occupy” action immediately, probably  because economics makes my head spin. I’m allergic to numbers, spreadsheets and anything else that reminds me of Grade 10 math, the last year I took that lousy subject. Apparently fate thinks it funny to watch those of us who snobbishly scorned the highschool courses in typing, scrambling desperately, decades later, to learn keyboarding. Likewise with math. I was chagrined to hear a leading feminist preach that if we wanted to change the world for girls and women in particular, we had to learn how the world economies work. Doggone it.

So I have learned about micro-businesses and made myself listen to some of the reports on Bernie Madoff and his evil colleagues. I’ve watched documentaries explaining how the mortgage mess happened in the U.S. and others that tell sad stories about clueless home buyers who are now homeless. Once in a while I even open the Business Section of the newspaper.

Lately there’s been enough broadcasting about occupying Wall St. that despite the appearance of disorganization and lack of clear goals among the protestors,  I do recognize values in common. I suspect that the Spirit of God has provoked many to take a stand, even without offering solutions,  against the unfair distribution of resources and profit. They are protesting a capitalist system and unionism that are both unchecked by any concern about their abuse of power and endless greed. 

Yes, the ‘occupiers’ are a ragtag bunch, unable to identify exactly what they want or exactly how fundamental changes to our economic norms can happen (don't ask me). But the movement may be, at least partly, an expression of a God-given insight that we are living in a deeply unhealthy culture, where some among us need reality TV shows to rescue us from buying more stuff, and others rob and murder as a twisted response to hopeless poverty. 

My own story of occupying to follow.