Better Means

I read a comment on a newspaper website, commenting on the student strikes in Quebec, by an Ontario student indignant that they should even complain in Quebec, for he paid nearly double what they did, and it was a hard road for him.

This sentiment in general, toward any kind of protester, always seems to me to be a denigration of the need to protest. “You’re making a big deal out of nothing”. But I suspect that it appears as nothing to those who don’t want to see (or really can’t see) such events as this hike, or any cut, bail-out, or political arrest, as not an isolated event, but related fundamentally to the trends of history, and those fundamentally to the power centres of the Earth.

University tuition fees in Quebec were frozen at $540 per year from 1968 to 1990. In 1994, tuition rose to $1668 per year, after which it was frozen until 2007, when it grew by $100 per year until 2012, making it $2168. Overall, tuition increased an average of $37 per year or 300% between 1968 and 2012, not including other fees that are paid to universities (e.g. administration fees, student service fees, etc.). One hike, even a small one, is a continuation of this trend. This trend that has no good reason under the profit motive to cease.

When I think of being open minded, I find this a practical trait to observe. Humans are limited, short-sighted, and often act unconsciously to things, unless they specifically plan to behave otherwise. We’re great at doing both, actually. We miss a lot, and so cannot reliably be expected to know everything. Thus an open mind allows the testing of many hypotheses, with or without direct effect upon one’s immediate life. New experiences like skydiving can be had easier once the reactive fear of falling from a height is overcome by rationally examining the tools humans have developed and tested for falling safely, i.e. parachutes and harnesses and so on. The openness, I believe, is lacking in those who condemn the protestor. If a society can produce such swathes of embroiled passion in the streets and civil spaces, then something must be reexamined, not stifled.

When I was gallivanting with the occupiers of Toronto, and one of our protests found its way onto the campus of Ryerson University, I had a very sad exchange with a student passing by. He said that he didn’t want to see this on his campus. “I know things are bad, but I have classes and things to focus on, I need to just concentrate on that.” The underlying understanding that I am operating under seems to be the same as he: That things are bad. What we do with this information, then is the difference. How we treat it. Do we furnish this hypothesis with air and patience and consideration? I think this student swept it away, to focus on the short-sighted. I don’t say this with judgement: he (as we’ve said) paid very dearly for these classes and now needed to do well for his financial and thus personal security in this economic system. Which then faces us with the question of how small our boxes can get. How much will we let ourselves be taxed to exit on our own planet? How much longer can the global ecosystem sustain our participation, at this rate, in this marvelous event known as Earth? Can we persist further with our daily occupations; cutting and watering the lawn, selling other beings insurance or products they may not need, massively duplicating simple household items for the sake of two businessmen competing, metastasizing the cancer on the lungs of North American, the logging trade of South America, and for how much longer will we willingly demand, with the votes of our dollars and our silence, for the abuse, exploitation, and early, miserable deaths of billions of our fellow humans to maintain our business as usual, just because it’s what we’ve profited from, planned around, and are used to?

That’s fucking lazy, people.  Apply yourselves. With love, you are not meeting your potential. I do not exclude myself from this, no no no. I’ll even make you a deal: if you scream, I will scream with you. But if I scream, you cannot leave me alone and exposed. Deal? Deal.


If you think we can grow forever on a finite planet, you’re either a madman or an economist


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