Sunday, June 27, 2010

So much for an apolitical Sunday..

.. however, it's raining and I can't mow the lawn, so what the hell.

I got some interesting responses to my last post, and to a Facebook thread on the same subject. One of my complaints regarding the G20 protests was that the message was getting lost in the shadow of destruction and mayhem, to where it was unclear as to what the message was.

A good friend of mine outlined the issue nicely, and has given me permission to reprint her comments here:

"How many countries currently exist? A hell of a lot more than 20. Many people are angry because some of the biggest global decisions are being made by only the most privileged countries (with some of the most corrupt leaders) and the leaders of the majority of the world's population are not even invited to the table. The issues discussed will effect the globe and include policy decisions that effect whether or not people can eat, afford health care, drink clean water, or have a mine or oil field in their backyard.

The issues on the table and the decisions that are being made without most people's knowledge or input are terrifying. People are resorting to violence because real people's lives are at stake in the decision-making process, especially the most marginalized people around the globe(People with NOTHING who can't afford for their lives to get worse because of policy decisions that result in ever-growing poverty).

I don't believe in thoughtless violence or romanticizing violent resistance, but I agree that the meeting must be stopped or held up and that some kind of force might be necessary (this is not to say that I agree with some of the current antics). This isn't a dumb protest or just an issue about money being spent on a meeting. When the most privileged countries in the world decide to alter international environmental laws, for example, it means that rural indigenous people in Latin America end up with an open-pit copper mine in their backyard which ruins their soil and drinking water and gives them cancer. The protest is becoming violent because people's lives are at stake -- a point which is getting lost on both sides of the media hype."

The bold emphasis was added by myself, because this is the misguided impression I was under.

Another interesting point was brought up by another friend of mine - so many people are quick to condemn the actions of the radical protest groups (just want to differentiate from the peaceful protesters) but will either support, or refuse to comment on state-sponsored military violence such as Iraq and Afghanistan. I will put on record here that I do NOT support our military interference, but granted, I'm less than vocal about it.

Another interesting thing that was brought up (although the thread no longer exists) was a statement that the 'Black Block', which to the best of my understanding is one of the anarchist groups at the G20 protests, feel a moral obligation to smash or destroy symbols of corporate greed and corruption (not a direct quote, I'm trying to go from memory here). This is where I call shenanigans. Smashing a scotiabank storefront downtown is not going to bring down these corporations any more than burning a local catholic church is going to bring down the Vatican. Once again I reiterate, this type of action only serves to alienate the general public, which in turn causes them to turn away and close their eyes and ears to the cause.

I'm inclined to agree that change is rarely ever affected by simply writing letters. However, I believe that acts of civil disobedience (from Martin Luther nailing his grievance to the cathedral door to Ghandi's hunger strike) are effective because they invoke curiosity, and make people question WHY, instead of alienating the general populace. When we are civil, we cannot be demonized by the powers that be, because we've done nothing wrong. Violence and aggression only serve to allow the governing bodies to invoke fear as a justification in increasing their own power in the name of our own so-called 'protection'.

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