This past weekend a small group of us sat around my kitchen table. We feasted on a delicious dinner comprised of grilled portobello, sauteed zucchini, tarragon mustard, avocado, tomato and sprouts atop fresh bread, complimented with a side of baked sweet potato fries dipped in a tahini, garlic and lemon sauce (did I mention our other passion is delicious food). Paired with a refreshing glass of local white wine sangria infused with mint, iced tea and berries while listening to Lady Gaga before we went out for Pride. Throughout the course of the meal the talk turned political. The discussion was focused mostly on climate change, the G8 & G20-specifically protesting, and how to really create change. We were struck by the idea that many of us do not protest or write letters or phone our MP or PM, though one friend did over the course of the night, to express either or dislike or even our agreement.
Our thoughts were that perhaps this was due to the fact that most of us don’t really see a tangible difference despite all of the ruckus that is constantly raised surrounding political issues. After all, even for our generation, we have been exposed to countless documentaries, news articles, academic resources and speeches on the unjust ways of the world. We have all this access to be well informed and you think the general outrage would have generated a change in behaviour. Yet no matter what, we seem to constantly bombarded with new accounts of inequality. Is this simply because we do not believe we have the power to generate change?
This is a daunting question, at least I think so. I mean realistically speaking, protesting, especially in a city like Toronto has almost become mainstream. As Torontonians we have adopted a way of life which revolves around side stepping protests, street canvassers, the homeless and anything or anyone else we may view as a delay on our way out. Have we become disillusioned and desensitized by all this in your face marketing, both by companies and organizations, that we feel the need to ignore most things thrown our way? Protests have become a dime and dozen. And while I am not saying that they cannot be effective, as they certainly can, and are an excellent way of creating awareness over an issue. I just feel as though they have gone mainstream. Protests are now staged, routes are planned, people informed. We have become such a nation of order that even in our disorder we organize.
A friend mentioned, between bites of deliciousness, that the French PM stated he was terrified of the French people. They hold their politicians accountable, if they are unhappy they strike or hit the streets. In many South American countries, not that I want to completely generalize but I will, people are much more informed of their country’s politics. They see the difference politics makes in their daily life and therefore value their votes and are not afraid to voice their opinions. Perhaps this is because in Canada our range of political spectrum is relatively limited, we have left wing and right wing, but in comparison to many parts of the world our pendulum does not swing wide to either side. Therefore, we don’t really feel as though our lives will drastically change depending on whether or not our vote is cast or our voice heard. It is conceivable that we have become more politically apathetic as we believe our votes don’t really make a difference. Nor do our letters or cries of outrage on the streets.
I have yet to figure out if this is true. Who could say how our country would be without protesters, letter writers, or the 59.1% of people who voted in the last federal election?So we ask you here. What do you think is the best course of action to generate change? Is it protesting? Writing letters/Making phone calls? Voting? Boycotting companies? Do you think ethical purchasing is a valid way to create change? Or do you have another idea…let us know!