Sunday, January 11, 2009

So what exactly is the point in protesting?

Both Malc and Jeff have questioned the point of going on protests like yesterday's Gaza march. They argue that it's futile cos it's not going to change anybody's mind and it just leaves the authorities a whole load of stuff to clean up.

While I am not naive enough to think that George, or Gordon, or Tony, or David, or Barack or Hillary are going to say "Wow, look at all those people in the streets. Maybe we should get tough with Israel, I haven't quite lost so much of my idealism that I've turned into Victor Meldrew before my time:-).

These are the reasons why I think standing up for what you believe in and making your voice heard is important:

The Martin Neimoller thing - you know:

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I was not a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

On a similar vein, there's the old one about All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing’

To raise awareness of an issue. There's nothing like 8000 or whatever people with banners walking past you while you do your shopping to make you aware of something. Maybe yesterday's protest caused people to look into the issue, contact their MPs, donate medicine or money to the humanitarian effort for Gaza. I'm hoping that the medicines I gave in will benefit someone in Gaza at some point.

To show solidarity I mentioned yesterday about the Palestinian family who thanked my 9 year old for caring about their country. If that march has given them some comfort, then surely that's a good thing. Also, now that the world is a much smaller place, people in Gaza may get to here that there are thousands across the world who want their situation to change. It can only help community relations in this country. There was a broad band of organisations supporting this demo and improving links between people like the Scottish Islamic Federation and Jews for a Just Peace must be a good thing, surely.

Also in terms of passing things on to the next generation, my daughter has been full of questions about the Palestinians and the history of it all. Thank goodness for people like John Pilger and Robert Fisk, that's all I can say.

Because we can We are lucky to have the rights of freedom of association and to protest against our Government. I just think that when you feel really strongly about something, then you should use this right. It's part of your responsibilities as a citizen to engage in the political process in a way that suits you.

Ok, so somebody might have had to pick up some paint and some shoes as a result of this demo. I think the Police didn't need to be there in as huge numbers as they were. It was all very peaceful and that's not because the crowd was cowed and deterrred by the Police, but because they genuinely wanted to make their point peacefully.

How much vomit and other bodily fluids and violence and general unpleasantness must the Police encounter over the course of a normal weekend? I guess the paint and the shoes were nothing in comparison.

Can anyone think of any other reasons?

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