I’m impartial and I’m mostly not proud
Time for a dirty little secret: I’ve never exercised my right to free speech by protesting.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my chances—I just can’t seem to become impassioned or informed enough to leave my house for many reasons other than to eat or to earn a degree.
Most of my chances, in fact, have presented themselves right here at Laurier, and I have stood idly by and watched as my more politically-enflamed classmates have rallied against injustices like unfavourable politicians and Marineland.
I’m not against these causes per say, and have no reason to avoid them.
Moreover, I like to think of myself as someone who, if filled with fiery injustice at the decrepit state of an institution, would at least be willing to try to share a meme explaining my rage on Facebook (but no guarantees).
Then, because I’ve begun checking CBC more while I glide through summer on the winged, feathered back of an office job, I’ve learned more about the protests occurring in Turkey.
In late May of this year, what started in Gezi Park, part of Instanbul’s Taksim Square, as a peaceful sit-in protesting the reconstruction of the park took a violent turn when police ‘cracked down’ and launched tear gas at unarmed protesters.
This probably ridiculous overuse of force resulted in protests spreading across the country, with thousands crying out against Turkey’s PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan, claiming he’s got a few undesirable ‘authoritarian tendencies’.
These tendencies even led him to arrest protesters for the unacceptable, riotous behavior of standing completely still for hours on end.
This made me think. First, about what participating in an aggressive, mob-like, police-brutality-suit-bonanza would actually be like.
An experience I can guess wouldn’t be pleasant, judging by the naively militant but genuinely poignant pictures of dirty young people fighting pepper spray in Gezi park that have appeared on the web for the last few weeks.
I’ve also tried hard to think about myself in the context of fighting for political rights, even in the face of as harsh and powerful an obstacle as a narcissistic government that fails to respect the rights of its citizens, values brutality over democratic practice and just really needs that 110th shopping mall.
In the midst of all this, I have come to terms with the fact that I don’t protest, and I’m deluding myself by identifying as politically active.
I may occasionally get flustered at something someone ignorantly claims online, but I couldn’t name 10 local rallies that occurred in the last ten years to save my life and I would look terrible in a Guy Fawkes mask (an issue that’s been solved for me, now that wearing a mask at a ‘riot’ comes with a 10 year prison sentence—thanks Government!).
I am, by all accounts, just as politically lazy as the Tumblr addicts I so loathe that made ‘Kony 2012’ a thing.
And I’ve learned that I shouldn’t be OK with that.
While I doubt Canada is going to experience a ‘Canadian Spring’ any time soon, that doesn’t mean it’s not a decently good, uniquely human thing to do to stand up to faulty authority and for social injustice, however they may reveal themselves in my general vicinity.
Chances are we’d all passively complain less about the government if we all commit to actively complaining a little more.
And hoisting a picket sign occasionally could do wonders for the flab lining my arms.
I dare say we wouldn’t have gotten this far as the proud, capable, hairless mammals that we are without some will to fight for our right to free speech and fair government.
And that shouldn’t be a secret; even less so a dirty one.