Weighing in on Pickets, Petitions and old-fashioned Protesting

I argued with a friend last week that old-fashioned picketing, petitioning and protesting was no longer an effective means to communicate to the world or the government.  Friend assured me enough had already been done and communicated which was why, decades after the 60’s had come and gone, he was ready to get behind the CLASSE movement.

I countered that the minute I see an excited large group of people my skepticism goes up and my ears seem to shrink.  I can’t completely trust any message being delivered by emotion.  Nor do I entirely trust information delivered without any emotion, as per the news.  Mass information and the local and global needs of this neighborhood, this city, this country, this planet, make it difficult for me to decide where I am going to take a stand – or firmer stand.

Several months ago, my local boxing gym rallied for petition support for head coach, Peter Wylie’s wife, Jackie.  She was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and needed a treatment that was not approved by the Ontario government, although it was in use in Nova Scotia and British Colombia.  I was advised that the Wylie family were also staging a protest in front of Queen’s Park.  I signed the petition but my skepticism doubted that our passion would move the Ontario government.

One day after I dared to argue with my friend, I visited Cabbagetown Boxing’s website and discovered they had won their petition.  I am glad they, at least, had the courage to keep fighting instead of just praying, like I did.  Though I ain’t knockin’ the weight of good prayer, however, the petitioning and protesting, in this case, was definitely more effective.

I am glad I was proven wrong though I think my reasoning is still sound.  Social media and the arts are the best way to communicate awareness for a cause.  Last week a lady from MSF asked me to join her webinar for a conversation – just a conversation – on the crisis in Sudan.  A few months ago, I read a comic-book by Guy Delisle called Pyongyang: a journey into North Korea and learned that people, like me, really do live in North Korea and it’s not just one large military camp.  Late last year I saw Lucy Walker’s The Waste Land documentary that translated the lives Rio de Janeiro’s garbage pickers through works of art.

This is a way of bringing what is foreign, daunting or frightening inside my home and inside my daily conversation — like a friend.  And we would all help a friend in trouble, wouldn’t we?

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