A couple of weeks ago, I received a text message from a friend of mine.
“Yamri! We should have gone to that Occupy Bay Street protest on Saturday…I’m looking at pics from protests around the world. This is huge!!!”
My friend, a university student of economics, posted a link on my Facebook wall and sent me another text message.
“This is what Nico (my crazy friend) has been talking about for the past two years. He was saying a revolution is about to happen and I was like, ‘Shut up Nico!’”
I wanted to reply and say, “I know… we should totally go next time!” But I didn’t.
“Let’s see where this goes, I’m not too optimistic,” I wrote back. “Also, one protester held a message written on his MacBook.”
I want to be hopeful and excited about the Occupy movement but so far I haven’t been all that enthusiastic. But my reasons are different from why many others attack the Occupiers.
Some opponents of the Occupy Toronto movements say the protesters and their demands are inane since Canada’s economy is “in good shape.” Just because Canadian banks haven’t had a dramatic bailout like their U.S. counterparts, it does not mean they are headed in the right direction.
The Occupiers are correct in wanting to stop banks that report increasing profits but continue to pay Canadians the lowest interest rates on their savings as they possibly can. They are not mistaken about the growing gap between the rich and the poor. They are also right about believing there must be a different, fairer way to live.
The protesters are also criticized for not having one unified opinion, but this is what democracy is supposed to be. People don’t have to agree on everything to be on the same team. Revolutions are always murky; nothing that ever mattered started out clean.
If the protesters have to be condemned — and this is where my hesitance stems from — it should be for their lack of strategy. They know what they don’t want, but they haven’t been good at expressing what they do want. Occupy Toronto’s tents, open library and quirky signage are all great but without some type of plan, it’s hard for others to get on board.
If they don’t put forward their goals, this large group of people from all kinds of professions and backgrounds will continue to be trivialized as a bunch of hippies who want to share everything.
But one thing is clear: many people in Toronto and around the world want to change the current state of the world’s financial system. And anyone who doesn’t have a recession-proof salary, should not see the Occupy movement as wholly nonsensical.