How many times have you heard protestors being described as people with nothing better to do than complain? Or protests being called a waste of time, money, and media attention? I know I have heard this type of commentary countless times, especially with the recent student protests in Quebec. Though I am not a supporter of the riots in Quebec, I find these comments from the Canadian public concerning. Our society is based upon a reverence for law and order. In many ways, our law-abiding nature is to be admired and we enjoy safety and security as a result. But why do we criticise those who wish to see a change and will do something about it?
Truth be told, we have very little to protest. But the foundation of our freedom is that we have the right. In Canada, we have the institutional strength and structure to challenge the government and call for change in a peaceful way. And this is my sole issue with the protests in Quebec – they have gone too far. Now, I am no Rex Murphy, so I’ll let him do the talking:
My point is that if we want change and we want to uphold our freedoms, we need to work for them. That means at the bare minimum: voting and keeping yourself informed. We are so lucky to live in a country in which basic human rights are the basics. We have not had to fight for these but this not to say that we don’t have a fight. With our privilege, comes responsibility. A responsibility to ourselves to elect a government that acts in our best interests and to lobby it to do so. A responsibility to support those that are fighting for the same freedom we enjoy.
We have seen an incredible movement towards democratic reform with the Arab Awakening. Though the results are to be seen and the coming years are bound to be volatile, I truly believe that the people have made a positive move for themselves and for their nation in each case. It is our responsibility to facilitate this change as determined by the people. The message I wish to convey is to not jump to conclusions about resistance because it disrupts order. Instead, we should evaluate resistance as a representation of popular sentiment.
In closing, I wanted to highlight a different form of resistance that I have found particularly moving.
This video is a recitation of a poem by Rafeef Ziadah, a third-generation Palestinian refugee, who has worked as a journalist and community organiser. Her poem is called “We teach life, Sir”.