Occupy uOttawa?

Sunday, October 23, 2011


This post should have been put up last week but I guess I got lazy. So as the story goes, last week I ran into an old friend of mine who posed the simple question, "Should we have an occupy uOttawa protest on campus?" This got me thinking...

There are a lot of people much smarter than me out there right now to define what the OCCUPY movement is all about. Well this is my take.

In 2008, president Obama took office and there was so much optimism for this that he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize just based on HOPE. But as the years roll by many people have noticed that not much has changed and it doesn't seem likely that much will change in the near future. As each election passes, the candidates are somehow less and less appealing. In fact, Ontario's recent election drew was a record low turn out.

Unlike most people, I don't blame anyone for the low turn out. Some people will make the very real statement that, "there are people dying in other countries to have the opportunity to vote and you just squandering this gift!" And this is entirely true; but, what if you don't agree with any of the candidates that have presented? What if not one of them comes close to your expectations or values? Well my friend, in that case you have just come to the logical end of current democratic system. (sad face)

But.... something incredible happened this spring in the Middle East that should make you pause and think for a moment. Now I don't want you to mistake this following statement... I know that many people sacrificed their lives and endured many hardships so please don't think that I am being callous. But from the "western" point of view, countries were able to overthrow their dictators (some that have been in power for decades) simply being standing in the street and protesting and making their voices heard. What an incredible thing to behold; that people could completely change a system by joining together and occupying a space.

I think that you can see where I am going with this but there is something else that would like to add to the mix - the role of the corporation. In the last couple of years we have witnessed the demonization of corporations around the world; but, at the same time we have also witnessed their salvation.

I would like to call your attention to companies like Google, Apple, IBM, etc. These are large corporations that do have a bottom line the deal with. And yet they also have an ethos that somehow sets them apart from other companies. Google's motto is "don't be evil". Apple regularly sets up large e-waste drives to deal with all the junk floating around out there. IBM works with small NGO's to help them collect their data and better analyze it.

Now how is it that Google can work to help create better highway systems to save lives but local governments are busy deciding how they can cut the most amount of jobs while winning the most amount of votes? I think that people are inspired by the "apparent" selflessness of these groups and are demanding more from the system.

So to answer my friend, should there be an Occupy uOttawa campaign? The answer is simple, if you believe that your institution can do better and that it has a central role to play in making our lives better, then demand better. I believe that the university can rise to any occasion so long as you are willing to meet it half way. A better uOttawa starts with you and nobody gets anywhere without working together.

-jON
http://thesustainabilitree.blogspot.com

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