I went to a rally against student debt on March 16th. It was held from 11:30-2:30. This was my reaction to it:
I got to the protest at 1:00. I didn't know what to think. I brought a couple of friends with me and they both said that they didn't think a politician would take the protest very seriously. I defended it by saying that the students were making noise, but it still wasn't what I expected.
I didn't expect or want people to be screaming, throwing things and getting arrested. I told my grandmother I was going to a protest and I'm sure that's what she thought would happen when she reminded me that I was sick and should probably not go anywhere. "You know, because you're sick! And it would tire you out. And you need rest. Don't go, Nani*, don't go..."
I go'd, but it was nothing. I packed a picnic. I made sure my friends had their individual sandwiches and apple juice boxes and cut-up fruit in a Ziploc container. Because I'm actually a thirty-nine year-old woman who just never had the time for children and now I mercilessly remind myself of this every day of my life. "Sit up straight, Simon!"
I'm kidding. Not about the picnic, though.
There weren't too many people there - not 500 like they said there would be. I hoped there had been more people earlier on and that it had died off. Protest signs were resting along the stone walls, so we nabbed some and shook them in the air in between slurps from our juiceboxes. We liked the one sign that had a kitteh on it and read, "CAN HAS LESS DEBT, PLEASE?" the most. It was very Canadian of them to add the "please."
We had to put the signs down when we went to listen to the band. Simon jumped right into the dancing and got really into it. Really into it. I turned to Mt and said, "I can't believe I used to date that." Mt and I danced a little, but I felt like I was too close to the front of the crowd to comfortably fully shake my booty. Minor shaking occurred.
At the end of the day, I still didn't know what to think. Maybe my friends were right. Was it really weak? Did we miss out on the serious protesting? Why didn't the information about this spread far enough or soon enough? Can a cheerful and fun protest be an effective protest? Should we sit on our hands because our protests are pathetic and our cause is not serious enough? What's the point in fighting for something that, eh, is not really all that bad if you think about it? Who do you have to kill or oppress to get a good protest going? Would I have gone to a super serious, potentially violent protest? What are our problems compared to the problems of those who do not even have what we consider basic human rights? Should we let those in power take advantage of our complacency?
There are times when I'm bad at being complacent, and all I want to do is scream my head off, stomp my foot, and shake my fists... or type, which is a safer thing to do. And I'll wonder... why aren't we taking to the streets? Why are we doing nothing about this? How can we just sit here and let the government walk all over us? Who does the government work for?
I think this is a fight worth fighting, but I do wish I'd known more about it.
I don't want to go into debt. That's why I was there. I don't want funding to be cut for anything education-related. That's why I was there. I don't want the government to think that what they're doing is right. That's why I was there.
Did they receive the message? I really don't know. All I can do is hope.
*Nani: A name, still used, that I called myself when I was a child.