Occupy not over

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Since it reached Confederation Park on Oct. 15, I’ve continued to frequent Occupy Kingston.

At first, I didn’t understand what the occupation was for, or how my life experience fit into the equation.

After attending the first official occupation and speaking to a variety of attendees, I soon realized that this is a complex movement — it isn’t simply black and white.

According to Trish Hennessy’s Index at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, in 2009 the average income for Canada’s top 100 best-paid CEOs was $6.6 million. This is compared to an average salary of $42,988 for full-time employees.

This is only one statistic that demonstrates the societal gap we face as Canadians. Capitalism assumes everyone can be successful if they choose to be ambitious. But, not everyone is born with equal opportunity.

Class division is the product of a society where a small portion of the population owns the production and distribution of goods. The majority, at different levels of exploitation, sells labour in return for a salary.

Ambition has very little to do with monetary success. There are societal barriers and privileges, embedded in the capitalist structure, that prevent or allow individuals to work their way up the financial hierarchy. Becoming wealthy, or the prospect of it, isn’t a choice. This is something the Occupy movement seeks to demonstrate.

One of the strongest aspects of Occupy is that there’s no hierarchy. Decisions are consensus-based. Having a leader would defy the very essence of the fight.

Occupy isn’t asking for specific enough changes. The movement asks for a paradigm shift in thought that can’t be remedied by a changed law or a new politician. We seem to forget that although this movement has shared feelings about corporations and governments, protesters have individual motives.

There may not be a single answer, but that doesn’t mean the movement hasn’t been successful. It has shown the world that everyday injustices, like inadequate health care and inaccessibility to education, are no longer accepted norms.

Don’t assume occupiers are stereotypes (pothead, homeless et cetera), go to Confederation Park and have a conversation with one of them.

Occupy, as seen from my angle, displays the importance of freedom of expression and democracy. I hope Canada can keep proving these traits.

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