When I was a teenager, I desperately wanted to be a hippie. I burned to stand against war and injustice, to march in protests and go to sit-ins. But when I was that age, there didn’t seem to be a lot to do. I didn’t have a Vietnam or a civil rights movement to be part of; things actually seemed pretty good. The Berlin wall was coming down, the cold war was ending. And so, I was a hippie without a cause. I settled for covering a pair of jeans in peace signs with indelible markers and wearing a black armband when the Tiananmen Square massacre happened. I also had a brief career (one day) as a canvasser for Greenpeace. The peace signs didn’t really make any waves, Tiananmen Square didn’t feel like my fight and Greenpeace let me go because I didn’t make my quota. And so my appetite for activism faded.
Over the years, I became more cynical and apathetic. People who went to rallies and marches seemed extreme and angry to me. I lived in North America, life was good. The things that were wrong would get handled, or they wouldn’t, but what could I do about it anyway?
Recently, though, I’ve become more and more disturbed by the things happening around me. There is little action on global warming, my government silences scientists while cutting environmental regulation, big companies are taking frightening measures to gain control over our food and agriculture, the list goes on and on. It seems like the heat on issues that were simmering before has been turned up and I can’t just sit idle anymore. My teenage hippie has been stirring, but like in my earlier years, I’ve felt stuck. It’s not like it’s the sixties and there’s a sit-in every other week. I’ve been dying to wave a sign and chant slogans, to voice my opposition to some of the crazy things happening around me, but I couldn’t find a good protest to go to, or didn’t hear about any in time. So, I contented myself with signing petitions. Endless petitions in the comfort of my home, hoping my little signature would help. Petition-signing, however, is not entirely satisfying. It’s like an appetizer without a meal. Which is why I was so excited to hear about a protest, finally, in time to go. And a good one too. Something I feel very strongly about and have been wanting to take some kind of action on. At last, my very first protest.
It was today and it was good. A real honest-to-god march where I and hundreds of other people (in my city) and a reported two million around the world took to the streets, waved signs, and chanted slogans. There was a man wearing a chicken costume, a band, and people with megaphones. It was a big crowd. We walked down city streets stopping traffic (peacefully). There were senior citizens, parents with babies, couples and teenagers. It felt satisfying and slightly ridiculous all at the same time. But my little hippie heart was grinning from ear to ear.
Have you ever protested? If not, why not? I’d love to hear your experiences!
I’ve been thinking about volunteering, but where? When? What?