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Teamsters Support Occupy Calgary

11 Nov

Teamsters Canada Rail Conference

Division 355 Calgary

http://www.tcrc355.com

November 9, 2011

Dear Sir or Madame,

As a labour leader I support the right to protest. Occupy Calgary is protesting the

inequity between the working person and corporate entities across our great

country. These corporate entities have all the support of political and media

organizations. They have their word out, why can’t the Canadian worker voice

theirs?

John Diefenbaker once said “A lot of people say I pay too much attention to the

common man, I can’t help that because I am one.” These protests that are

occurring across Canada are doing just that, trying to get the word out that it’s not

fair. It’s not fair that working people keep losing wages and benefits while

corporations keep gaining ground. The current Conservative government is

legislating workers who have the democratic right to strike back to work.

My grandparents were organizers for the CCF in the thirties. They, and others

like them, were called communists by the corporate and government bodies at

the time. In the early fifties my Dad was in a little country called Korea fighting

communists. How ironic it is that guys like my dad actually fought communists

and that his family were called communists. They busted their asses on that

peninsula for a system that labelled them communist. We have good Canadians

at Calgary Olympic Plaza trying to get word out that our system is unfair for the

working person. These good Canadians are there to defend this country just like

guys like my Dad were.

I say let them stay and protest a system that at times is stacked against the

working people of this great Country.

In Solidarity,

Darrel Sundholm CD

President

Division 355

Teamster Canada Rail Conference

 

One voice of the 99% – Aaron Doncaster

11 Nov

We are “Occupy Calgary” and our movement is bigger than demands.

The moment we make one demand is the moment we narrow the discussion with ourselves and everyone else within the Canadian and world body politic. We want to be an example of an inclusionary movement not an exclusionary one. In order to do this, our examples and experiments in living need to transcend the current exclusionary market dominated status quo.

The moment we make a demand is the moment we open ourselves to negotiation with the state. The moment we start negotiations with the state is the moment we claim to have ownership over the ideas that “Occupy Calgary” represent. By requesting dialogue with all rather than demanding negotiations with a few, we will assure the inclusive nature of our movement.

The moment we make a demand is the moment we claim the problems within the governing institutions of our society are not systemic. This would not only be a wrong claim for us to make, it would also be elitist and paternalistic of us.

The moment we make a demand is the moment that we become a lobby group. We have no interest in lobbying the state and capital for more crumbs to be distributed to the masses. More crumbs by the powers that be will not create the change we are working for in society; it will only make the oppression, exploitation, tyranny and fascism in our current society a little more tolerable.

We at “Occupy Calgary” do not claim to have all the answers. What who do have is a passion to build dialogue with Calgarians, Canadians and all of humanity across the globe.

We are experimenters who are providing an example of how we all can work together to respect ourselves and the biodiversity of this earth we share with all other life.

We are workers who have chosen to work on a project together where we collectively own what we are producing. We are producing a safe community for ourselves by cooking food together providing security together, providing therapy together, having fun together, governing together and providing an example together that others can choose to follow. We are creating a new method of producing goods and services that puts people before profit and that is the antithesis of the antiquated production relations of Capitalism.

We are experimenters who are experimenting with a material exchange system whereby choice replaces the dictatorship of the capitalist “market”. We are experimenting with integrating barter and gift economies with a more equitable version of the current currency markets.

We are experimenters who are experimenting with ways to network in voluntary association with other groups who wish to work with us in building a greater worldwide experiment in living

“Occupy Calgary” is not just one, two or more geographic locations. It is a place that also exists in our hearts. Wherever you are, you can join us and together we can be the change that is created in society.

We are “Occupy Calgary”!! We don’t make demands, we are too big to fail and we will not be moved!!!!

Decolonize your mind – Nicole RunningRabbit

10 Nov

I do believe I have a valid reason to set my tent down on Siksika lands here in what is now called “Calgary”.

These lands (some sacred sites in & around Calgary) are only disputed by the CDN Govt. in our unhonoured treaty #7.

My new/old/potential friends & family are welcome to join in a respectful manner, anytime. Our humanitarian/environmental reasons are intertwined, afterall.

Damages to Olympic Plaza have been paid back to the “city of Calgary” in advance, to the tune of billions of dollars in oil royalties & other non-renewable resources that are scraped out of our mother earth & off the backs of Siksika/Kainai/Peigan/TsuuTina/Nakoda People, while some of us have no clean water to drink in our homes, if we are lucky to even have homes on reservation.

A large percentage of The Blackfoot People in Alberta slowly die off, continually in poverty from a slow & drawn out genocide/colonization/assimilation ongoing for the last 500+ yrs.

That is where the estimated $40k damage/4¢ per Calgarian taxpayer argument for evicting occupy calgary gets truly morbid for me, on the municipal & federal government’s part.

As well as being recently physically assaulted & threatened, I’ve been called hostile, divisive to the group, self-pitying, “playing the victim”, “looking for pity’, “racist toward the white man” & an agitator while I have been living at olympic plaza.

This will not stop me from showing solidarity to stop a corporate/governmental regime from completely wiping out the 100% = The Human Race.

When One really looks at the injustices we all face in Canada & Globally, One realizes that, in a way, We are all now facing what happened to Indigenous People in North/South America. Perpetrated by the corporations with their long reach into our governments, media, food, education and financial systems.

Decolonize Our Minds. Decolonize Calgary

NOW.

In peace and solidarity.

An Argument in Favour of Civil Disobedience – Steve Loo

8 Nov

I have been involved in the Occupy Calgary movement from its inception. I have 2 jobs. I’m university educated – in fact Mayor Nenshi was one of my professors at Mount Royal University. 

I joined the Occupy movement because I believe democracy is eroding in Canada. 

More than ever, we live in society where large corporations influence government policy. A prime example is the reversal of the oil royalties in Alberta. The auditor general Fred Dunn was chastised by the government for reviewing and suggesting that the oil and gas royalty taxes be raised. There was an outcry largely led by the oil and gas industry, and province backed down from their plans to raise royalties. As a province, we lost an excellent opportunity for badly needed revenue to fund the social, health and infrastructure needs.  Another example is the lack of regulation – no oil sands extraction project has been rejected by the Energy Resources Conservation Board despite conflicting environmental assessments and costs to community. Now, communities downstream from oil sands projects are adversely affected because of the waste that is produced and flow into the rivers. Dr. John O’Connor raised the alarm on the health concerns – specifically alarming rates of bile duct cancer. The province made allegations of malpractice for causing undue alarm when really they were, and continue to be, in denial.  

In the Occupy Calgary meetings, we make our decisions using the consensus process. Everyone involved in the movement has an equal say regardless of income or age. It is a difficult process that requires patience and learning new ways of communicating. In the end, this is a better way of organizing because of the inclusivity. 

We must remember that the foundations of our culture was laid through protest and civil disobedience. In the Bible, the Book of Matthew tells about Jesus driving the moneychangers out of the marketplace because he saw greed within the temple walls. Gandhi defied the salt laws imposed by the British by marching to the beaches and making salt out of seawater. Rosa Parks defied segregation by refusing to move out of the front half of the bus where only white people sat. Martin Luther King Jr got arrested several times and won a Nobel Peace Prize because of his opposition to segregation, violence, poverty and the war in Vietnam. Nelson Mandela was labelled a terrorist and imprisoned for close to 30 years for his opposition to apartheid.  Democracy is not just voting at election time – it’s about the ability to express dissent and work to change the status quo. Dictators in South America and Eastern Europe and most recently the Middle East have fallen with citizens rising up and peacefully affirming their rights to a dignified life. Similar to those who participated in social movements discussed here, the people of Occupy Calgary have peacefully come together at Olympic Plaza to name injustice and organize for a better world. And like them, we will overcome opposition, whether it comes from businesses, governments, police, and military (what we call the 1%), every step of the way.

I thank the indigenous people for hosting us on their land. I thank the Mayor Nenshi, City of Calgary, and Calgary Police for respecting our right and determination to protest, to organize and work towards a better more inclusive world. 

In closing, I leave with you a quote from Gandhi:
“First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.”

A Statement from Some Members of the Occupy Movement in Calgary, Alberta

8 Nov

We Calgarians from various walks of life, who identify with the Occupy movement, using our freedoms of opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and of peaceful assembly and association prescribed by our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, reiterate our right to continue the process of peacefully occupying Olympic Plaza.

Through this ongoing process, we seek a vital and vibrant rejuvenation of the public space at the heart of our cities, communities, and towns, not just in the physical landscape, but in the philosophical space that they symbolize and address. It is in this newly opened “thoughtscape” where we seek to engage and welcome the broader public, from academics to professionals and workers, and from the disenfranchised to the organized, to this, our city’s vibrant public forum. We ask that this vibrant public forum takes place as an ongoing series of people’s assemblies, workshops, and discussions where education and new knowledge is paramount, issues addressed, and holistic solutions for an emergent, better and more compassionate society are incubated. We ask that this vibrant public forum, vitally takes place now in the central physical landscape of our City Hall, our Central Library, our Epcor Arts Center, our Olympic Plaza, and our surrounding places of worship.

Thus we have and continue to share the public space in the interests of expanding the role of participatory democracy in Calgary, in Alberta, in Canada, and in our emergent society.

It is in this spirit of democratic engagement that we remind ourselves that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms trumps all bylaws, unless it can be shown that there are “such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.” There being no such limit, we continue to invite our fellow Calgarians to help us in developing this vibrant public forum.

An Open Letter to the Silent Majority

6 Nov

Why I Occupy – Phillip Vernon

6 Nov
The challenge that we have before us is an extraordinarily difficult one… the public must become motivated and the public will not be motivated unless they understand how they are being deceived and become angry enough to do stand up and something about it…

And yet, at the same time, the only way that we can win this battle for the very evolution of our species is to wage PEACE, rather than wage war… because war and competition are the ways of the past… peace and cooperation are the ways of the future… and we must move forward into the light, not backwards into the dark.

The public must first become enraged enough to do something about their impending situation, and we must then show them how to respond with peace and love, rather than hostility and vengeance. We must be able to first understand and articulate well enough to show them that they will be directly affected, and we must then respond to their inevitable rage with kindness and understanding… lest they come to view us as their enemy, rather than their ally.

For the system to attack us with violence, we would have to throw the first punch. But we refuse… So the system, the press, the public are throwing every insult and every threat they have at us out of self defence. We are telling the old system that it has to die for us to live… and make no mistake, the system will defend itself to the bitter end.

The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

Right now, the system, and the people within it, are going through denial, anger and bargaining. We must be ready to lead all the way through depression and into acceptance, so that we can leave our old ways behind move forward in a different direction. But much rage and denial will play out before the healing can begin… and we must be there and ready to bear the slings and arrows. And we must turn down any bargaining that is offered, because no band-aid can stop this cancer…

To say that it is hard to remain calm, peaceful and understanding when standing face to face with the spitting, snarling, screaming threat of violence is an understatement to say the least… but this is what we “must” do. We must be strong and hold our ground, or fear will always win.

If we must hold hands to avoid throwing a punch… we hold hands.
If we must lean on each other to avoid falling… we lean.

The time has come to grow up, act like adults and face what we must face, rather than a society of spoiled children running away from our problems.

Our evolution means doing the right thing… not the easy thing.

If I just wanted to be safe and comfortable, I would have stayed home… but much better men than I have kissed their families good-bye… crossed oceans and laid down their lives and given up the rest of their days, for much less than what we fight for right now in town squares around the world.

This is why I occupy

Peace and Love All ✌☮♥

The Occupy Calgary story you’re not seeing elsewhere – by Mercedes Allen

29 Oct

- re-posted with permission from the author, Mercedes Allen. Source: http://dentedbluemercedes.wordpress.com/2011/10/30/the-occupy-calgary-story-youre-not-seeing-elsewhere/

 

“Nothing to see here. Nothing to see here.”

Until the last couple days, that had been the mood in Calgary, as the Occupy Wall Street (#ows) movement seemed far from many peoples’ minds.  Sure, by now, everyone’s seen the graphs coming out about American inequality that show 1% of that population controlling an exponentially widening wealth gap that — no matter how one graphs it — makes a pretty clear case that a miniature black hole has sucked the lion’s share of money right out of the U.S. economy altogether.  All this, while the so-called “job creators” continue to lay off rising numbers and are rewarded with record bonuses for record profits.  It’s clearly not sustainable.  But that’s there, right?  The Federal Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty, reassures us that Canada is far better off, having a “very progressive tax system.”

“Nothing to see here. Nothing to see here.”  So why are people tenting in downtown Calgary and refusing to leave?

“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” — George Orwell

City residents’ first impulse was to write the Occupy Calgary participants off as “lazy,” “loony” or “looking for a free ride…” because in a relatively productive and flourishing Alberta, the worries seem far away.  Well, except that they don’t really seem THAT far away, given that extended health insurance has jumped, mortgages and rents have skyroketed, quality jobs are harder to find, and the wages (which haven’t changed much) don’t go as far as they used to.  News reports are talking about grain prices driving the cost of food up yet again, and there’s talk that gas could go over $2 per litre in six months.  But it’s not that bad.  Not that bad….

“Nothing to see here. Nothing to see here.”

They must be all students, the reasoning goes — tuition keeps skyrocketing, after all.  And homeless people.  And activists. And the unemployed.  And disabled people.  And Aboriginal people.  The photos and footage sure seems to bear that out.

The first general assembly, Olympic Plaza, October 15th, 2011

Which would make sense, because students, the homeless, the unemployed, the disabled and activists who assist disenfranchised people regularly have felt the economic disparity for longer, and with more intensity than many.  And for the First Nations, the disparity has been felt the longest by far, being a nation that is still literally colonized by another nation in ways that the public has grown so used to that it’s become blind to it.  Of course, they’d be the first.  But inequality hasn’t stopped there… and so the collection of people gathering at Occupy Calgary hasn’t stopped there, either.

The Raging Grannies sing at the original rally

Challenges

The temperatures have been dropping.  It’s a matter of weeks (or, if we’re unlucky even days) before we plunge into the -30 degree C temperatures that will inevitably have to send everyone for shelter and warmth.  Yet as the temperatures have been dropping, the number of tents has been rising.  After the October 15th rally, just under 20 tents were set up in Olympic Plaza.  Today, it’s closer to 50.  Which seems small until you realize that because of an early planning and communication problem, there are two camps.

A park in St. Patrick’s Island is home to the second encampment.  It had been set up before the General Assembly had come to any kind of consensus, and the city is trying to present it as the “real” encampment.  Still, much of the attention and organizing and activity happens at Olympic Plaza, from participants who find the St. Pats camp too distant from downtown, too invisible, and too easily cut off from the city or arbitrarily shut down with little recourse.  Which is not to say either camp is more “right,” but it’s divided the energy.  But in the end, the point may be moot.  The temperatures have been dropping.

During the day, the plaza is quiet.  During the day, the numbers are fewer, some of the campers still having to work.  From those who are gathered there, there’s a sense of optimism: a sense that whatever else may happen, the Occupy movement is destined to change things for the better.  And folks appear to be doing their best to keep the park clean, respect the surroundings — contrary to the reports of “$40,000 damage” (more on that in a moment) — and occupy peacefully.

But you have to look past “Nothing to see here. Nothing to see here” mantra in order to realize that if there’s this sense of determination among folks, in the face of media ridicule and dropping temperatures, then there must be something to see, after all.

The camp grows, despite the growing cold.

Calgarians Still Hold Hope of Being the 1%

Perhaps weirdly, the Calgary Sun’s Rick Bell had a point that part of the challenge that Occupy Calgary faces is that many of the corporate 1% have offices here, that Calgary has the highest income per capita in Canada, and that for the remaining 99%, there is still a strong temptation for middle-class people to think that they, too, could someday be better off than they are.  Or that there is “Nothing to see here. Nothing to see here.”  The elusive myth.

Murray Dobbin points out that although Canadians see bank bailouts as an American phenomenon, the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation bought out uncertain mortgages to the tune of $70 billion — a tenth of the bailout amount in the U.S., but we also have a tenth of the population.

“Secondly, the Harper government established a fund of $200 billion to backstop the banks — money they could borrow if they needed it. The government had to borrow billions — mostly from the banks! — to do it. It’s euphemistically called the Emergency Financing Framework…”

From the centre of the October 15th rally. A similar number of people were behind us when we took this photo. Newspapers say only 400 people attended.

Why They Won’t Be.

Occupy participants have also not overlooked the fact that among the Harper Conservatives’ top priorities have been corporate tax cuts, market deregulations similar to those that triggered the American crisis, targeting of union funding and spending in the name of transparency (even though unions are not government institutions, and the Harper Conservatives certainly haven’t had the best record on that, themselves), and eliminating a per-vote subsidy that supported political parties based on their percentage of popular vote, rather than leaving parties dependent on mostly corporate funding.  This reflects Harper’s history as president of the National Citizens Coalition, when he took a challenge to the Supreme Court of Canada in an effort to strike down spending limits for corporations in Canadian elections.  He lost Stephen Harper v. Canada in 2004, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled differently in 2009′s Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission –a ruling which in a few short years has transformed that political landscape into one almost entirely favouring corporate welfare.  If unbridled corporate influence, paired with reducing the electorate’s influence, is the agenda of the man who shapes our laws, then there is certainly a need for Canadians to speak up now — before the unnerving struggle felt now becomes “the good old days.”

Sanctuary in the shadow of the towers.

I don’t know how you fix the amount of economic disparity that exists in America.  But in Canada, we can start by averting our path.  Immediately.

In a speech to the Council for National Policy, the future Prime Minister said, “Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it,” which was seen as a challenge to Canada’s social and economic equalization programs.  And indeed, everything that has facilitated economic disparity — from Ronald Reagan to today — is being echoed in the current government’s positions and policies.

Linda McQuaig at the Toronto Star points out that:

Adding a new marginal tax rate of 60 per cent to those earning over $500,000 a year, and a 70 per cent rate to those earning over $2.5 million a year — rates that would simply restore the progressivity that existed during Canada’s booming postwar decades — would raise almost $8 billion a year, according to Osgoode Hall tax professor Neil Brooks.

Yet this $8 billion interests Flaherty so little that he can’t be bothered to collect it.

“Nothing to see here. Nothing to see here.”  Except that the value of our dollar and our influence over the government that is supposed to represent us are dropping.  The Occupy Wall Street movement is as much an opposition to oligarchy — even if not in name — as it is to economic disparity.

The banner of the Occupy Calgary rally, first day of occupation.

Not An Easy Pill To Swallow

Some of the Calgary establishment hasn’t been too happy to hear this, either.  The periodic pilgrimages of black limousines past Olympic Plaza on the way to Teatro Ristorante, the nervous glances from the affluent passengers who climb out… there is definitely an unease in the air and a contingent that wishes Occupy Calgary would just go away. Supporters along Macleod Trail seem almost clandestine, afraid, with tiny, careful taps of the horn as they pass by.  Patrons at the Centre for the Performing Arts have an unnerving view of the camp.  If an Occupy action is necessary, then perhaps it is especially so in Calgary.

City officials have been mixed and at times supportive.  For all the experiences of police brutality elsewhere, it’s apparent here that at least some of the Calgary Police Service have noted the cuts being forced on public and emergency personnel in the U.S.  And Occupy participants, conversely, have been as agreeable as possible on every point except for surrendering Olympic Plaza, even moving aside for a previously scheduled ICNA Muslim Heritage Day event — and ICNA, in respect for that the campers stand for, offered Occupy Calgary a table in return.  The City and its diverse inhabitants have never been the “enemy,” and both sides (at this point) seem happy to keep it that way.

The infamous Obama-mask guy. “Rothschilds” is a reference to lore about an alleged Jewish banker conspiracy, although most attendees were unfamiliar with the reference and oppose the implicit and possibly unintended racism.

But the media hasn’t been so kind.  I wrote recently about how media can spin things to be unflattering toward Occupy movements, when I’d compared Ezra Levant’s “17 clips” of Occupy Toronto and claims of “cult mentality” to other footage of his visit and an understanding of the human microphone.  Occupy Calgary has been facing some of the strongest media opposition, from both major papers and some stations.  After EMS did an inspection of first aid kits and missing items were put on a wants list, the request for condoms was trumpeted to mean that the camp had become some kind of public orgy.  Claims were made about public obscenities on signs, and a mention of “Rothschilds” (which most probably didn’t understand the meaning of) on a sign brandished by someone in an Obama mask at the initial rally on October 15th was used to claim that participants were anti-semites.  Early Friday morning, the Calgary Fire Department converged on Olympic Plaza after someone reported seeing candles (open flame is prohibited in the park).

The Nebulous $40,000 “and Rising”

And then, there is the $40,000 damage being reported nationwide.  Except that everybody who has been going to the square has been completely confused as to where the damage is.  Photos of City crews draining the pool and hosing down the concrete for routine pre-winter preparation have been juxtaposed with the articles to create the impression that some major reconstruction is underway.  City crewmen, meanwhile, have been among those scratching their heads over talk about damage to the washrooms, which is also barely visible and some attribute to non-camping passers-by.

Photos of routine maintenance juxtaposed with allegations of damage

So far, the “damage” that has been publicly trumpeted is with regard to the sod.  It’s said that the sod wasn’t made for camping, and that tent coverage is killing it.  Which might be true if the ground were frozen.  But in current weather conditions, the warmth and retention of moisture and electrolytes are actually a benefit — which is why golf courses tarp their greens.  There is in fact one section of sod that isn’t faring as well, on strips too narrow for tents and largely not used by Occupy people — a section that was also not faring well back when we visited the Plaza in preparation for Calgary Pride, in early September.  It’s a heavy-traffic downtown square with regular events, after all.  Some of the photos here were taken when the rally began, and some after the reports of “damage” became national headlines.  You decide.

The mystery of the “$40,000 damage”

Maybe reporters should be asking deeper questions, rather than looking for participants’ flaws while taking tent-counts with “only 30 minutes on the meter.”  On Friday, Calgary social workers came out to rally and show their support.  Whether or not the media notes (or even sees) it, the movement is growing.

Calgary Sun columnist Rick Bell counts the tents, looks for new signs, and misses a solidarity rally by a little over an hour.


“First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you.” — Nicholas Klein, 1918 (a similar quote, attributed to Gandhi, is apparently disputed)

No one is looking for monuments, only reasonable balance.  People are starting to ask questions.  Should there be a maximum wage?  Should a nation’s largest corporation really be able to get away without paying any tax at all?  Even if their jobs are complex, are CEOs really worth 343 times as much as the median average of all a company’s employees?  Or reap bonuses that are many times over what the average employee makes in a year?

Until now, such questions have been dismissed as fringe poor peoples’ sense of “entitlement” — even as the same corporate and banking entities have taken handouts and are looking to strip union bargaining power.  In America, Republicans are using anti-abortion and anti-contraception legislation as a preoccupation to keep jobs bills from passing, while demanding that Medicare and Social Security be sacrificed to pay the deficits generated by a legacy of corporate and top-level tax cuts.

In Canada, the national average salary as of 2010 was $42,000 per year.  Canada’s top CEO earned that amount in four days.  Canada has the fourth largest level of inequality among its peers already, and that has been rising faster than it has in the U.S.  That gap is largest in Alberta.

Irrationally exuberant… because the world is starting to listen.

Is this the Canada we want?  Is this the Calgary we want?  Or are you simply prepared to accept that New Normal?

Are you among the 99%?

Now is the time to change it.  And now is the opportunity to speak and be heard.

(Some of these photos are mine, but most were taken by talented partner, for which I am grateful.  Crossposted to rabble.ca)

I can haz feezburger?

28 Oct

They're not ALL fat cats.

Why support the occupy movements? – Because we want to better all of humanity! – Chelsea Ranger

28 Oct

A message to the general population of Calgary :

There has been a lot of media surrounding the occupy Calgary movement, most of it has been negative press regarding the “bums” camping out in the park “freeloading” on the tax payers. I would like to take a moment to present the issues as one of the voices of this collective movement.

It is understandable, to me, that the people of Calgary may take issue to a group of people seen to be breaking bylaws, and costing the tax payers money. This movement encompasses such a huge scale of social issues that it is easy to see how people become lost as to what we’re protesting.  First and foremost though, I must insist that the constitutional rights of the occupiers come before all bylaws, and it is wrong of media outlets to incite violent tactics against the occupants, whether in the form of spaying them with fire hoses, tear gas, beating with batons, or other commonly used police tactics used against rioters. If the common public of Calgary feels strong enough against this movement, the onus is upon them to go to the camp as a collective and voice their concerns to the occupants, hiding behind an armed force and making demands that they be removed is against their own constitution. They have the right to voice their concerns in a peaceful fashion, you do not have the right to demand violence be done against them, and to do so is morally wrong.

Why I support this global movement for social change :

Occupy together has acted as a staging ground for the voices of the people of the nations of the world to be heard. We in north America live in a highly corrupted social and capitalistic system that is driven by the ideals of greed, and the acquiring of monetary based assets. As a person who has strong moral and ethical beliefs I feel that my rights as a free human being on the planet are being violated by being forced into a materialistic and capitalistic society that is destroying the very thing that gives us life. I do not, as it stands, possess true freedom, and the infringement upon that basic right by the current government and monetary system is against my, and every person who agrees, constitutional right to life, liberty (The state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life.) and security of the person.

I have no freedom, even my freedom isn’t free. Every time I say to someone I am not free to do as I choose they reply with the idea that I am free I just have to work to obtain the level of freedom I desire. I understand and appreciate that all must contribute to society if we wish to live within it, but I resent and hate that it is a system that forces you to play the capitalistic game in order to survive. There is, of course, always the option of being homeless, but how can I be any value to society if I cannot get a job because no one will employ someone who does not have access to a shower or washing machine? Such limited options, do not by the very definition of the word, constitute freedom. They constitute a system which forces fear upon its populace : work or have nothing, contribute in the following ways or having nothing, do not do these things and you are not of value to anyone or anything.

Our society assigns monetary values to lives of people, and the indoctrination of the whole of humanity – via globalization – to believe they’re of value if they own things of value. The capitalistic model serves the purpose of encouraging the masses to input productive time into societal needs, but it also strips many of their dignity and respect simply because they were not afforded the opportunities of those who are better off. Many people are trapped in sub-par jobs that pay low wages because they cannot obtain the money to better themselves via education, and so they are forever stuck washing toilets, performing back-breaking manual labour, or any of the low-end jobs that many people turn their noses up to. Why is the life of the woman who performs the need of empting my garbage at work nightly worth less than my life? Why is Bill Gates’ life worth so incredibly much more than that of everyone else’s? Yes, he did something good for humanity by giving the lame man access to the PC’s we now use, but why is he, as a human being and life on this planet, worth more than me?

If given the opportunity, I too could achieve something of value for humanity, but because I don’t have access to affordable education  I am currently of little to no value to my society even though I have a good degree of potential. As it stands I have already been stripped of the freedom to be of any value to anything other than gaining more capital to pay the bills that sustain my life, and will be stuck in that perpetual cycle until I can shake off the shackles of debt in the second half of my life, enjoy the latter half of my life if I am in good health, and die. There is something fundamentally wrong with the owning of peoples’ lives via debt.

It’s about leaving people without food, water and shelter, just because they do not have the capital to purchase them. There is enough of each of those things for each human being, but no one has enough money, or enough heart to purchase these things for the masses of less fortunate in third world countries. Every day we throw food in the garbage, both on a personal level and on a commercial level. We, in first world countries, live in a land of excess. We value nothing more than money, so we seek an excess of money we can then purchase things to assign worth to our own lives by the assigned value of the items we purchase. Why? Why do we so desperately seek bigger, better, and more to the detriment of the rest of our fellow peoples of earth, and the planet that is required to sustain our lives.

Why do we feel so entitled to leave our children with the debt of their parents generations both environmentally, and financially? Why do we war against one another in the name of religion, politics, and resources, when all we have to do is learn to share and have compassion for all. Why does our society allow for such practices that have the potential to lead to the extinction of all life on earth in the name of our pursuit of profits, and power?

Our society is sick; I do not wish to partake in it, but I do not have the freedom to choose, so I will instead take part in my right to speak out against it until the day it is revolutionized for the betterment of mankind, or the date of my death. This is why I support occupy together and all of the occupations across the globe.

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