Blackberry Honey Protests

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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?

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7 thoughts on “Blackberry Honey Protests

  1. Peace March in NYC after the shootings in Kent State. Cut school that day along with some of my friends. Head band across my forehead, overalls and a necklace that read “war is not healthy for children and other living things”. I felt very righteous that day (although at 16 I felt righteous on most days).

  2. I know it’s been forever and I don’t know why now, after all this time, that I’m replying. But BH it’s a compelling question, and my answer is simple. Maybe enough for a simple explanation which seems I have only enough time and energy for these days…

    Anyway…

    I’ve only protested once. Iraq war. NY. Alone. Was more like a long hot walk with no real direction and went on for way too long. Yes, it’s an obvious metaphor.

  3. I marched to protest the plight of wild salmon when I was 13. We painted our faces, and wrapped ourselves in nets, holding salmon shaped placards and signs while marching through the city. Randomly enough I ended up with a close-up shot of me on the front of the B section of the Vancouver Province newspaper as part of the news coverage, so I gained some notoriety in my circles for a while as a crazy-hippie/tree-hugger.

  4. I’ve been thinking and thinking about this post. Yet, I’ve been hesitant to respond. I think my hesitance has something to do with guilt, but I’m not sure if that is even what I am really feeling. I have only ever protested once, back in the early 90s during the Klien cuts to education in Alberta. I remembering feeling truly scared about what our schools might look like in the face of such drastic cuts. I have done nothing since then. It’s not that I don’t feel strongly about things happening in our world. I do. I suppose that I feel a bit like you when you said, ‘People who went to rallies and marches seemed extreme and angry to me.’ At the same time I have huge guilt about not being more proactive and vocal about those things that are important to me. I guess that I do protest in my own quiet way. I try to be thoughtful and aware of how I spend my money. My family’s choice to become vegetarians was really our silent protest against an industry that we felt we could not support. I even feel like my vegetable garden is a form of protest. But it never feels like enough and I am not naive enough to think that the choices my small family makes will have an impact. I suppose the power of rallies and marches is in the sheer mass of people and the visibility of the dissent. Part of me fears that by admitting that there is strength and relevance to this kind of group action that I too will feel compelled to stand up for what I think is right. Maybe?! Or maybe I will just stay home… it’s easier.

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