Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Consistency of Inconsistency

There is one thing that is consistent about human beings, that being:

“The more we claim to be different than others, the greater the chance that we are just like them”.

The #OWS movement (and all the Occupy movements associated with them) are protesting about a number of things, including the notion that they are tired of being oppressed or having their rights and freedoms infringed upon by others.  Many have talked about the need to stand up against the 1% who for too long have been intimidating the 99%.

To suggest these things is to imply that the protestors are different than others, that somehow they have evolved to a more mature, enlightened level than those they are protesting against.

Despite such assertions, we now have reports of sexual assaults occurring against some protesters at the hands of other protestors, the number of thefts from protestors as a result of the actions of other protestors is on the rise and in places like NYC, a sudden increase in unprotected sex (can we say Woodstock) has caused some protestors to scramble for STD testing.

So …. are the protestors really any different than those they are protesting against?

As I walked out of City Hall in Calgary, Alberta on Monday, I was unaware that inside the Council Chambers, votes were taking place on how the City should deal with the #OccupyCalgary movement.

I left the building to have coffee with a friend and was approached by someone at the entrance to City Hall offering me a leaflet.  Intent on getting to my destination in a timely fashion, I shook my head and proceeded to walk past him.

What followed was a tirade against me and my companion, calling us some unmentionable names that I won’t write here and citing how I was infringing upon his constitutional rights by not taking his brochure. 

A couple of other people entered the discussion and pretty soon, several of us were being lambasted on City Hall property by two individuals who derided and insulted us for oppressing them and denying them their right to push their information upon us.

While I’m always open to an intellectual exchange and my meeting companion also said “I’m in a rare confrontational mood today and ready for anything”, we walked away from them.

As we sat in the coffee shop a few minutes later, I happened to notice that one of them had followed us across the street and was staring at me through the window, wide-eyed and maniacal as he taunted me through the glass.  Eventually, he turned his attention to someone else and began to yell at them instead.

If children or elderly people had been present, they may have been frightened or intimidated by such behavior and I made a note to my companion that if either of them were still there when I went back to City Hall, I would notify security.  After all, don’t I also have a right to walk on a public street in a city in North America without being threatened or intimidated?

As I thought about this interaction, I thought about how consistent people are with their inconsistency.

In many instances, protestors are claiming that they are being oppressed by others, that they are meeting violence at the hands of the authorities and that their personal freedoms are being negated at the hands of others.

In my situation today, the actions of the people who were attempting to intimidate me or infringe upon my right to personal freedom spoke so loudly, that I couldn’t hear the message that they were hoping to convey.

Which brings me to this point.

Gandhi once said

Be the change you want to see”.

In other words, don’t tell us what you want or attempt to shove it down our throats (sometimes literally).

Lead and teach us through example.  Show us that you know a better way of leading and living and encourage us to live the same way through modeling your behavior.

Until that happens, the only thing you are showing us is that the inconsistency of demanding to be treated with respect while treating others disrespectfully is sadly consistent within the human race.

And as long as that is the case, the strength of the #OWS message is diminished and diluted.

At the end of the day, are the protestors any different than the people that they are protesting against or are they merely feeling oppressed because they are not the oppressor?

The latter would be consistent as far as human thinking is concerned.

Sadly, hopes of real change aren't realistic as long as the consistency of inconsistency persists.

In service and servanthood,



  1. Hi Harry - great sum up and analysis of that experience. Since I was there - I will quote one of the choice phrases the 'protesters' called out to people who didn't stop to take their brochures 'these are not for you anyway - they are only for humans' - thus dehumanizing anyone who didn't agree with them and/or do their bidding. That, to me, is the hallmark of oppression and in fact the basis of all dictatorship. And yes, we did stand up to them - because silence while watch watching others being abused would have been a tacit agreement to that abuse. Thank you for your eloquent replay of that day.

  2. Hey Lila,

    Thank you for your kind contribution. I agree with your comments 100%. It takes me back to people being upset more because they are not the oppressor than they are about the things they claim are important.

    It's like saying "I am against violence of any type and I will punch in the face anyone who dares disagree with me" or the guy who blows up abortion clinics (killing people) because he is passionately in favor of protecting life.

    So while the Occupy crowd fight oppression, some attempt to oppress others. It is illogical and undercuts the entire argument that they might make.

    Thanks for sharing! :-)

    Create a great day.


  3. To that point, I WAS a little disappointed that the people who were issuing death threats to me before didn't weigh in (see http://harrytucker.blogspot.com/2011/10/why-cant-we-all-just-get-along.html for what I am referring to).

    I guess they figured out that when I make an observation (neither for nor against) in a previous blog and they respond with death threats, it also undercuts their message. :-)