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People Do Some Strange Things When They’re All Together

November 7, 2011

My Da used to tell me, “Never argue politics in public. It makes you look like an ass.” We didn’t agree on everything, but I’ve seen plenty of proof that he was right about that one. Nevertheless, sometimes, you have to get up on your hind legs and stake out your turf in the coming conflict, and there IS one coming for all of us, no matter what corner of the world we live in. There won’t be much time to pick up a gun for this one, but we might just stave off bloody revolution all over the world if we can just get a handful of self-absorbed boobs to listen and think clearly for a moment, and hopefully come out on the side of Humanity for a change.

So, now a word about #OccupyWallStreet. My word is ‘It’s About Fucking Time!’

Now, I need to qualify that, because I have an agent who doesn’t like it when I overgeneralise. First off, I’m a Canadian, so what happens south of the 49th isn’t supposed to be any of my damned business.

There’s been a fair bit of talk about moving to NYC and rebooting my career the old fashioned way. My agent would surely appreciate that, because she’s a New York City girl, and it’s infinitely easier for her to do what she does best if we’re in NYC.

She and I have argued a bit about the kids in the square shouting at stock brokers, some of whom are close friends of hers, and while she can sympathise that something has to be done about the economy and the outrageous behaviour of the banking industry, nevertheless, she doesn’t agree that any good can come of demonising stock brokers.

I’ve argued that the key is visibility, and while there are banking institutions a plenty, as well as the World Financial Center mere blocks from Zuccotti Park, none of those buildings are as symbolically significant as Wall Street. My agent (and my editors, for that matter) is too close to it to see what’s really being accomplished by targetting Wall Street for the protest, even though the actual villainy is much more widespread than a few unscrupulous trading firms who may or may not have been aware that the sub-prime mortgages they were dealing in were due to go off like a dirty nuke.

So, the thing is, I agree with both the protesters AND my agent. Shouting at the people responsible for irresponsibly bringing about what looks to be the worst financial catastrophe of the last eighty years, and which is still sending out ripples of financial collapse all over the world, is the very least we can do. Writing about it is probably the best I personally can do about it, because I’m a little too old to be sitting out in the cold somewhere in the closest local protest site. As well, it helps to be eloquent and make sure your words are collected someplace visible where severely compromised news agencies can’t pretend ‘there is no clear objective or consensus amongst the protesters’. That said, I know par to the message is being blunted because the most vocal proponents of economic redress are probably native New Yorkers, but they know better than to blame it all on the guys who trade in pork bellies and frozen concentrated orange juice.

So where does that lead this nascent movement to change the world for the better? Well, they’re determined to tough it out for the next few cold months, a semi-indefinite occupation of the square, with satellite occupations taking place all over the world (though particularly in North America). Meanwhile, the press is obfuscating, the police are getting surly, the military are unofficially intervening, the progressives are cheering, the conservatives are grousing, and the world just keeps on turning, just like a frigging beet.

But the really important question is, where do you think things are going, and what do you plan on singing when it comes your turn in front of the mic? Are you ready for the world to start healing, or are you hoping to cash in just before it all goes to Hell in a hand basket?

I don’t pretend to offer any real solutions here. The thing is, it’s really up to you where you stand, and you’ll be doing the world the biggest favour if you make up your mind after really considering both sides of the argument and being as fair-minded as you can.

For my money, I just hope change comes, and that it’s change for the better. I also want to wish the best for those kids out there protesting. I hope nothing bad happens to any more of you, and I hope you all make it through the winter in good health. Take care of yourselves, and don’t let them tell you you’re wrong. Just remember, it’s going t o take a hell of a lot more than shouting at stock brokers to make the world change course.

Be good to one another out there, folks. It’s not the end of times yet, so don’t go cashing your chips in too soon, and be nice to the stranger on your doorstep. They just may be a long lost relative.


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