Wow! That headline sure got your attention, didn’t it? Sounds like a story of impending lawsuits and high profile dirt, doesn’t it? It isn’t untrue, but if I didn’t tell you that the accusation was unofficial and took place on a Facebook wall you might find your perception of those two publications already seriously coloured by that statement.
The media portrayal of the Olympic Plaza campers is a very good illustration of the way we are spoon fed the information someone wants us to have and how that information can be skewed to support a particular bias. We tend to think that if it were newsworthy if would be in the news, right?
We all understand that many things must be happening right under our noses. We have all had someone in our lives lie or hide the truth but we don’t imagine that our public sources of information could do so. Why do we imagine that the people controlling our economy are immune to the enormous tendency toward crime and predatory behaviour in the human soul? Why is it easier to imagine a bad guy holding up a bank than a bad guy running it? Yet we tend to place our trust in institutions that we really know very little about. I have found http://www.albertafraud.com/ very interesting.
We know that corporate crime does happen frequently, but we don’t consider how often and who the victims might be. We never think the victim might be ourselves. We don’t consider how often our system of law allows loopholes for criminals to slip through if they are wealthy.
We know that the hand is quicker than the eye, yet we trust media sources without question to present accurate, complete information. How often do you think they do? How much important information do you think might not be presented?
In the case of the occupiers, what I have witnessed is people picking up litter they didn’t leave there and caring for the park better than the city does. I don’t mean to take a shot at the city in saying so. They can’t have people standing around to pick up every cigarette butt that gets tossed on the ground. Right now at Olympic Plaza however, they do. I can’t imagine one of those people deliberately damaging the facilities they were provided by the city. That is because despite all the disagreement, lack of knowledge and tremendous amount of information to sift through to even begin to untangle one issue from another (impossible, incidentally) there is, I think, a very specific goal.
The entire point of what these people are doing is to show that you MUST respect the place you live and the people you live with. I think that is truly at the heart of the very diverse range of issues being discussed not only in Calgary, but globally. Respect doesn’t mean caving to the demands of people who want something but won’t stand up for it themselves. It means recognition of common humanity. Treating persons as persons. Sometimes the greatest respect is shown through active disagreement.
Are we capable of dealing with humans on a human level? We are afraid of each other. That is the truth. Our fear of each other can manifest as hatred and the need to shut others out, tear down, control or destroy. It can also mean appeasing, forgetting, ignoring or spinning information to eliminate responsibility. It depends whether or not we feel we can take control of what we fear. One way to take control is to turn public opinion against the thing feared. This is very often the beginning of a justification for violent acts. One could say that manufactured public opinion is sometimes the seed of violent acts, thusly an act of violence in itself.
So do we have a group of peaceful, respectful protesters who have worked with the city to share the park, cleaning up after themselves and other users, moving the tents aside to allow sprinkler maintenance and meeting with the leader of the Muslim non profit organization who has booked the Plaza for Oct 29 to ensure the needs of both are met? Or do we have a gang of lazy anarchist squatters holding the Plaza hostage, destroying the facilities they depend on and terrorizing the public so they don’t dare enter the park?
Never mind the fact that Olympic Plaza has always been a well known area of crime and drug use and it is probably safer to be there now than it has been since the ’88 Olympics thanks to the presence of the occupiers. The organizers of the Muslim Day of Peace who have offered Occupy Calgary an info table at their event don’t seem particularly terrorized. Never mind that the majority of occupiers camping there are working full time jobs or going to school while sleeping in the cold and subjecting themselves to general public ridicule just to try to raise awareness of the fact that something in our society is very wrong and this wrong affects all of us. If Licia Corbella or Rick Bell pull some clever sleight of hand with the facts we can dismiss this protest and it’s message utterly. We will feel smugly justified in ignoring this call for awareness and go back to watching “reality” tv, secure in the knowledge that since those hippies are annoying us and some of them are confused about the issues, it must automatically follow that nothing is wrong with our economy and we should just keep unquestioningly accruing debt and destroying the environment.
That is some classic media logic there isn’t it? They can actually use the movement against itself to reinforce the existing order. People believe that the little bites in the news really do accurately represent the whole truth. And all we can do is stand in a park with a sign that points to a side of the truth people never see (even when they are looking it right in the face) and hope someone will listen.