Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Protest Parade.

Last week, I was sitting at my desk when I heard what I quickly assumed to be a parade outside. I looked out my sixth floor window to see if I could tell where the singing and whistles and drums were coming from. From two different sides of a park, protest groups were marching towards my building with banners and voices raised. After recovering from my "where's the parade?" embarrassment, I settled in to watch.

The protest parade stopped at the building next to mine. For the next two hours, they pounded and sang and chanted in unison. They waved flags and banners. They posted hundreds of flyers. They spoke. They cheered. And they sang some more.

At the beginning of August, 23 people were detained and arrested for protesting a raise in their rent. The group I watched from my office window was gathered next door to bravely protest the arrest of these other protesters.

Gatherings like this one seem to be common in Buenos Aires. Almost every week, I stumble across a group standing together, feet to the pavement, voices raised together. The groups are large and small, old and young - assembled in front of government offices, travel agencies, banks, hospitals, and schools.

Just today, I passed a group - fifty or so elderly men with one big banner - assembling in a park. I wonder where they were headed and what they were going to say.

In Minnesota this past month, hundreds of protesters were arrested at the Republican National Convention. Many more were detained, sprayed with tear gas, photographed, searched, injured. Despite the conditions, thousands of people continued to gather, march and raise their voices together.

While I was in Haiti last spring, there were food riots in Port au Prince. Countless Haitians pounded the streets, raising their voices together about the cost of food - telling their government, their media, their world that they were hungry. At least four Haitians died during these demonstrations.

My statement here is not about the sides of these issues. At least not this time.
My statement is more of an observation:
Despite past experience and better-judgement and odds, people bravely stand together in streets all over the world to share their stories, to demand change, to cast light on injustice, to ask for a life with dignity - and to ask people with power to listen, to care.

I am not saying that protesters, just by being protesters, are right.
I am saying that if people are brave enough to stand up and march and sing in the streets, that someone should listen, that we should listen.

I am saying that we should do all we can to ensure that it is safe to stand peacefully with our neighbors and speak our truths.

And I am saying that I hope I will have the bravery to stand, put my feet to the pavement and lift my voice whenever I find myself face to face with injustice.


rad said...

mol, i have tears in my eyes as i read this. i'm thankful for your eyes that SEE people, and for your heart that you allow to break, and for your willingness to fight. i too, hope that i have that courage... and am strengthened by the idea of standing beside you.

Betsy Grace Matheson Symanietz said...

Yeah! Speak out!

Regardless of how people feel about protesters in America - everyone needs to be reminded how important it is to speak out - speak up - stand up for something. We take our right to do so in this country (and countries like Argentina) for granted all the time... we forget how painful it would be to not be allowed our voice.

On behalf of all those in the world who can't speak - who have no voice - we must. Speak. Up.

(Betsy off of soapbox... now.)

Srilakshmi Thalla said...

Molly, Your blog is very informative and also touching my heart. Keep up the good work.