The recent G20 Summit in Toronto stirred up a great deal of anger across the country, as we watched peaceful protesters being beaten and arrested like a scene from Alabama in the 60’s. I, too, am angry that the police grossly overstepped their bounds – even exceeding the far-reaching fascist powers granted to them in a secret meeting of the provincial cabinet.
The government is trying to take away our right to protest, and that is completely undemocratic. But now I’m faced with another question that goes to the heart of the protests:
What exactly were they protesting?
The message that came out of the G20 protests is that the police, the government and the media are all acting against the best interests of the people, and we are losing our right to protest. But to protest what? To protest for our right to protest?
But then I look a little deeper, and I see that there are dozens of other messages that protesters are trying to spread. But the messages get confusing.
There is the protest against oil. We should not drive cars dependent on gas or propane, and not drive electric cars either, because they depend on electricity generated by fossil fuels. There is protest against foreign oil, and protest against Canadian oil, and against oil from the Gulf of Mexico. Generally, we shouldn’t use oil or anything derived from oil, like plastic.
We also should stop using products from natural sources, like wood, paper, cotton, etc, because they are usually harvested by large corporations that destroy the environment. We shouldn’t wear fur, because that comes from abused animals, and we shouldn’t wear polyester, because that comes from oil.
We should support people in poor countries, but we shouldn’t buy their products, because we should buy local.
We should protest big corporations, because they are greedy and destructive. But we should also demand job creation from those same corporations, so that we can go work for them and make them even bigger and more powerful.
We shouldn’t use metal, because that comes from mines owned by big corporations that hurt the environment. We shouldn’t use plastic, because that hurts the environment, and we shouldn’t use wood, because that depletes our forests. (Maybe we should make everything out of silicon and glass, because that comes from sand, and the earth’s crust has a heck of a lot of that. Seriously.)
Some plastic packaging is now made from corn derivatives, but then that uses up valuable farmland and drives up the price of food, so now poor people are having trouble affording groceries.
A hundred years ago, the one sure answer for a culture filled with sin and wickedness was to turn to religion. But now religion has become synonymous with conflict and bloodshed. This is a shame, because there are religious people out there who are actually doing some good, like feeding the poor.
Government? Whether you vote Republican, Democrat, Conservative, Liberal, Liberal Democrat or whatever, they all end up being the same. Each party protests what the governing party is doing, until elected, at which point they realize they have to keep the policies in place. So they defend the policies created by their predecessors while the deposed party criticizes them for it. It’s ridiculous.
It seems like there is something wrong with everything, no matter what we do. That’s why it’s so easy to protest the whole world, and maintain a self-righteous frame of mind, because no matter what you protest, you know you’re right about protesting it.
But that doesn’t solve a damned thing. No matter how right we are about protesting oil or anything else we get from the environment, protest does not give us a solution. It only focuses our attention on the problem. And the more we continue to focus on the problem, the less energy we have to create a solution.
So that’s my protest against protest.
I don’t have a solution either. I just realized that now.