When I started writing a column for the university newspaper The Daily Titan (Cal State Fullerton) called What’s Left: Politically liberal musings from a former corporate slave, I wanted to have a series of weekly insights into the world of activism during a time when people are increasingly rising up to evoke social change.
In the column, I wrote about officer-involved shootings, the corporatization of education and the criminalization of the homeless. My column also featured the racial undertones of the ethnic studies ban in Arizona and the slow erosion of First Amendment rights as well as women’s rights in the United States.
I wrote about the vast economic and social impact of the wars, especially the ongoing occupations in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
So in case any of my collegiate colleagues wondered what the hell the Occupy movement is about, these issues happen to be part of the peoples’ movement that is igniting a fire of activism in the U.S.
These issues have been part of the push for social change and the uprising of citizens anywhere from the hood to suburbia in the United States.
I’ve always said: the effects of corporate greed don’t have to be spelled out to those most affected by it.
The feeling you get after your boss tells you, “I’m going to have to let you go,” right after they spent lavishly the past few months, gives you a sneak peek of the bigger picture.
When you first get a check delayed by the unemployment agency as you are feverishly searching for a job 24/7, you will start to sense something isn’t right about the status quo.
You can see right through the facade of the media’s narrative that Occupy is just a phase when you see protesters walking past you as you sit in your car.
After university administrators tell you they don’t have enough money so they have to keep increasing tuition, you start to see that public education is not a priority for them when you hear about thousands of dollars spent on meals for their fellow fat-cat clique.
When the realization hits you that no matter if you are working full time while in school or going to work in the “real world” after graduation, it seems like you still face the same set of circumstances: living paycheck to paycheck and going into debt; you are just now starting to realize what all of those damn protests are about.
When you try to reach out to your local politicians and they are protecting the interests of big money and influence, you may start to question whether or not our country is a real democracy.
When you see your local police become militarized and adopt a strategy of “shoot first, ask questions later,” you might feel betrayed by those you pay to serve and protect. Especially when you go out to protest and police kick you while you are down trying to exercise your First Amendment rights in the streets.
You are aware of the impact of the imperialist and capitalist wars when your brother or sister comes home from either Iraq or Afghanistan injured — or worse off, dead.
When you watch videos online of police abusing their power, like in the video of the Kelly Thomas beating, you know there is a problem in our society when the powerless and most vulnerable are viciously attacked and, if it weren’t for people rising up, it would be swept under the carpet.
If you haven’t been able connect the dots between corporate greed in our nation and social inequality by now, then you simply have not been paying attention.
The global economic meltdown has affected everyone from top to bottom in society.
However, while we are told to “tighten our belts” and “pick ourselves up by the bootstraps,” the richest population is still reaping the rewards of their misdeeds by continuing to take away from the rest of us.
With the widening gap between the haves and have-nots, the elite can choose to ignore the gap, but it comes with consequences - that will affect them whether they like it or not.
Across the country, employers are trying to swim their way out of excess by placing the burden on workers: slashing pay and benefits, massive layoffs, increased micromanagement and higher pressure to perform even when the current economic climate creates situations you can’t squeeze success out of.
Let’s not forget the Wall Street gamblers who created the financial meltdown in the first palce by betting against Americans’ debt with credit default swaps.
The rampant corporate greed and abuse over the past 30 years have not come to a halting stop after the economic crisis; the elite are still able to indulge in luxurious vacations and expensive toys.
With the current student loan debt crisis, it is looking like students are going to be a part of the next “bubble” that is about to burst.
College students will be the ones to carry on “Occupy” traditions into the next phase. We’re going to go into the working world and wonder if this job is worth going into debt for, if we find a job at all.
The popular uprisings all around the world have led us all to this point. From the “Arab Spring” in Egypt and Tunisia to the recent protests in Greece, Spain and Canada, the biggest global movement in history has begun.
Even in the mostly impoverished Cambodia, there have been signs of an uprising. This past year there were protests against environmental abuses, as well as evictions of impoverished residents of houses for corporate development. Over the past few centuries, the Cambodian people have been led by the saying “korup, bamreur, karpier, smoh trang” — “respect, serve, defend, be loyal (to leaders).”
Now, more than a few of its country’s leaders are comparing the brewing social unrest to “the next Arab Spring.”
It’s happening. Everywhere. It cannot be stopped.
With this in mind, it can’t be forgotten that “Occupy” didn’t just happen — it was a series of actions of dissent that led to it over the years.
The people with nothing to lose have been the ones at the frontlines of the war against the “1 percent.”
Most notably, military veterans have been heavily involved in the “Occupy” movement.
In addition, it was the hundreds of thousands of courageous souls that have stood up and refused to be taken advantage of any longer by systemic oppression that led to the explosion of the Occupy movement’s popularity globally.
But alas, everyone is saying the mainstream media wants you to believe that “Occupy” is dead.
What I have to say to that is: Who’s to say you need the mainstream media for a revolution?
Thus far, we have relied on social media to get our information. Anywhere from Livestream to Youtube and everything else in between.
To all those disenchanted by the media bullshit, I have one thing to say: Be your own media.
There is no telling how far you can go armed with a camera in one hand and a cellphone updating Facebook and Twitter in the other. We have already come so far by doing just that.
Let’s face it, with social media and the latest technology, we can document the world we see and create the world we want to see because, now, the whole world is watching.