I posted this at Znet on October 5th, 2011 with the aim of gathering people to join 'Occupy Toronto' as the world was taking note of the (somewhat surprising) success of Occupy Wall Street. I had been living in New York City for a number of years, organizing on these issues and taking part in some of the precursors to OWS. By September of that year I was staying in Toronto as I was getting ready to move to Tel Aviv.
I recently stumbled upon this post again. Though our movements look different today, most of the below is still important as we move forward.
I have to begin this piece with an explanation: I have been politically active for most of my life. I have always believed that radical change is possible and within our reach. Unfortunately, in recent years I have had to contend with an inner cynicism, but as I look around at what's happening right now that cynicism is dying.
I know that there are plenty of people reading this who dream of a better world, but just don't think that reality can catch up to our dreams. I know that feeling. I know now that Cynicism is not truth. Sometimes cynicism can protect us from taking dangerous leaps forward, but it is not truth. Cynicism is easy, and that's what attracts us. The path that we are on is a hard one, but it is not impossible. It is that knowledge that can carry us forward.
This year we have seen freedom struggles in every corner of the world. The fight has been brewing all along, but there is a new spark right now. There is a real fight going on. Fighting against dictators and fighting for jobs. Fighting to end racist policies and fighting to ensure that every person is healthy and able to reach his or her full potential.
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We must stand in solidarity with the struggle for freedom and justice in North Africa, the Middle East, Europe and the United States. We must stand in solidarity with one another, because Canada is facing injustice and oppression just like the rest of the world. Just to south of us, our partners on Wall Street are pushing further and harder than has been pushed in a long, long time.
Collectively we have two options: We can begin to fix the injustices around us, or we can let them grow. We can push the momentum forward, or we can let it fizzle out.
The global economic crisis that exists now has always existed. It is only starker now. The crisis is about jobs and comfort, but it is also about the system itself. Stability, happiness, justice and potential cannot be reached in a system that is founded on debt, racism, imperialism, and authoritarianism.
I recently came back to Toronto after living in New York City for the last four years. I am excited to see my partners there joining in the struggle that has been spreading around the world this year. I am ecstatic that my partners here in Toronto are organizing to join that struggle too.
It is clear that the Canadian reality is intertwined with the reality of the rest of the world. We are not safe from injustice here. These injustices are systemic and they have woven their way around the world.
Here we allow ourselves to live in debt for no good reason. Here our government has allowed us to fall deep into collective debt to private banks. Here we allow our soldiers to die in unjust war. Here we allow two companies to monopolize all forms of communications and media. Here we allow ourselves and our neighbours to lay waste to our environment. Here we allow ourselves to turn a blind eye to the continuing assault on the First Nations. Here we allow our police and politicians to abuse their power and revoke our rights when they like. Here we allow racism to cloud our perspectives on history and visions for the future. Here we allow our government to force fear into our lives where it doesn’t exist. Here we allow the slow de-funding of our healthcare system. Here poverty and homelessness are growing.
Here we need to understand the interconnectedness of our economic, political, and cultural realities. We need to take actual steps now to bring the real toward the ideal.
These are very real problems that we face and it is not idealistic to say that we can fix them now. It is only a matter of choosing to face that collective decision right now. We have an opportunity to push this forward right now with our partners around the world. We, in Canada, have the opportunity to expect to make these changes through non-violent action, and careful collective organizing.
The challenge we face is collective in nature, and despite the triteness of the following sentiment, each and every one of us makes a difference. We need to realize right now that we are not safe from these injustices. If you don’t feel them today, like so many around the world and across this continent do, you will feel them tomorrow.
For this work we need our unions, our professionals, our poor and our rich. We need communities and individuals. We need the oppressed to stand up and those with privilege to stand with them.
Let’s not wait for tomorrow to come. Let’s build the tomorrow that we want right now. We really are the 99%, and 100% of us are headed down whichever path we are heading down together. It is our responsibility to rise up and use our collective potential to take radical steps toward social and economic justice, true democracy, and a better society.
I'm an organizer with the Organization for a Free Society and Hashomer Hatzair movement.