It is easy to be an activist. It’s not very easy to be an effectivist and actually effect change. You have to do your research, find out problems and the actual solutions, and activate that in strategic ways. "Specific demands are more likely to corner decision makers and policymakers and force a response: 'Yes or no. are you going to do this?'” ~D. Conacher
It's almost impossible to read print or virtual media, listen to the radio or watch television without being made aware of the Occupy Wall Street protests that are gathering through North America. I came into the knowledge of said protests when a Facebook friend "liked" Occupy Canada and I became curious as to what occupying Canada consists of. After clicking on the link of their Facebook page and reading through their posts and info, it became apparent that the movement is doing exactly what the authors were hoping for: creating a media awareness of the group and exposing the dichotomy of two very different mindsets.
The intention behind Occupy Canada is frustrating in it's vagueness. Reading through news reports that quoted statements from varied individuals, some of the intentions became clear: participants are protesting the fact that the rich are becoming richer and the poor are often struggling to pay their utility bills and feed their families. Armine Yalnizya, senior economist for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives states, "Canada's rich could make a difference. Our governments should ask them to step up to the plate".
The complaints stated by protesters fall along the lines of:
-the government needs to force the rich to share the wealth
-the government needs to stop hoarding money
-the government needs to stop monopolizing the prices of hydro/fuel/necessities
-capitalism should be monitored
-there needs to be more equality in salaries
-salaries should be capped
Remove government regulations! Enforce stricter government regulations! Raise income tax on the wealthy! Remove income tax completely! Call CEOs and large corporations to task! Remove corporations completely! Dismantle the stock market (despite the fact that through stock markets and shares people are able to create business which in turn create more jobs?) and return to gold and silver! Feed the poor and give them more money! Destroy the government that feeds the poor and gives them money!
Most of the sentiments expressed are disturbingly socialist and communist in disposition. No, I'm not going off an anti-communist tirade Frank Burns style, but I was surprised to stumble across this comment posted on CBC's article regarding Occupy Canada:
"The "Occupy Canada" Facebook page removed my comment overnight.
I said, "Capitalism (free enterprise) creates jobs. Socialism creates debt and taxes. God bless Canada."
I was expecting a lot of hostile comments but this (censorship) surprised me." ~AcePilot101
For a group that is calling our government to be more accountable and supposedly is transparent with their motives and requests, the censorship is disturbing, and even worse is the fact that no one will see that action as a warning sign. Despite the fact that groups/organizations may claim to be above-board and honest with their dealings, the unfortunate tendency of human nature to be egoists and one-minded in their crusades for liberty, equality and freedom taints the utopia that they may be attempting to build. Censoring opposing viewpoints or opinions seems like a remarkably similar tactic that these bleeding hearts are lobbying against.
The most important question that is presenting itself to us Ontarians is this: where were this politically motivated people during the recently past provincial election? The election saw a record low turn out of 49.2%. There are, of course, multiple reasons experts are touting to explain the exceedingly low vote turnout, but the basic reason remains: indifference. People are indifferent to the government, probably because they feel nothing they do will precipitate any real or lasting change. The common refrain I heard was, "I don't know who to vote for" and "There aren't any candidates I support", incensing me as I believe it your civil duty to take ten minutes to educate yourself on what each party represents and to vote for whomever most closely epitomizes your ideals.
Anarchy appears to be a common refrain among these people and they believe they are being repressed by police presence and the government. Perhaps the people who support the belief system of removing all government systems and authorities need sit down and thoroughly read "A Tale of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens.
Anarchy solves nothing and simply creates chaos and lawlessness; anarchy is not the answer. Yes, our judicial and legal system is poorly run, the law is executed sloppily, some policemen may be corrupt, but the fact is: the government is not telling your average policeman to be corrupt--that is their own personal choice that they have made. There is no tax credit given to those to abuse their power as a reward; injustice, unfairness and prejudice exists in the hearts of men individually.
My poor boyfriend sat through a long winded rant last night which consisted of me expressing my disdain for those who take the time to participate in protests (such as Occupy Canada which has spurred the above quotation among other vast and varied media responses), but fail to make their ideals or "morals" an actuality in their day to day lives. These activists want justice and equality in oblique and unspecific ways, but how do they activate equality and generosity in their own lives? How many people take the time to practically combat poverty in their backyard on a day to day basis? If you, as an individual, are supporting Occupy Canada and opposing the way our society and country is being operated fiscally, how are you activating positive changes around you in a real and tangible way? How are you being an effectivist?
While I agree that CEOs are making exorbitant and undeserved amounts of money which in turn causes large deficits within corporations and leads to workers being laid off, I also don't expect them to give me any of their salary in order to make up for the inequality of it. Yes, I can't afford to have my wisdom teeth removed right now because I don't have a benefits package or any financial leeway for the surgery, but I don't expect someone else to pay for me.
For those who believe there should be more money spent on social needs (i.e.: covering dental costs for those too poor to afford it), consider this: someone has to pay. The money to fund Ontario Works doesn't grow on a mysterious tree; the common worker such as myself or my parents who pay income tax are the ones who fund Ontario Works. Social reform and desire to see everyone treated equally is a lovely sentiment, but who will pay for all these things? Should people who have spent their lives building companies and now live comfortably have to pay for the needs of others? What is the practical answer to this conundrum? There are complaints that sports athletes are ridiculously over paid...stop paying for tickets to see games and stop purchasing merchandise that supports them. For those who complain about the outsourcing of companies...withdraw your business from that company and seek a Canadian based business that will support our economy.
Practically, the best way for you to support Canada and build toward a stronger economy is to promote "Made In Canada". Purchase items that are built/created in Canada, support businesses that based in our country, choose to buy vegetables that are grown by our farmers... That is the best and most efficient way for you to accelerate our economy. Instead of brandishing signs and sentiments that state how awful a country Canada is to live in, consider what you can do to make it a better place. Embrace positive effectivity instead of campaigning negative attitudes that fail to manifest any useful ideas that may implement change. Fight the injustices you see with love and kindness, not an intolerance for people with differing views. If you truly believe that Canada is an awful place to live in, consider moving to a different country when you can find a strong social system; certainly don't sit around spewing how diminishing, damaging and useless our country is while taking advantage of our health care and other social benefits. Consider that the country you find so repugnant actually consists of your neighbours, friends, family, people you know and love, not simply a nefarious government that is scheming to destroy our freedoms and stamp out our inner flames.
Canada does need to change in many ways. We can move forward together and bring politicians, financial advisers, corporations and shareholders into accountability. However, acting like spoiled little children who are unaware of how the country actually operates fiscally and economically is embarrassing for people participating in the protests and people watching them. Establish a knowledge base of what you are opposing and what you specifically want to see change before you run into the streets waving your signs with self-righteous indignation burning in your hearts.
You are all sighing with relief that you aren't my boyfriend and don't have to sit through these rants on a daily basis. Consider how you are being an effectivist on a daily basis, even in the smallest and most faithful of ways.