Sunday, May 10, 2009

For us, an inconvenience. For them, life or death.

I just got home to read headlines about Tamil protesters blocking Toronto's Gardiner Expressway, in both directions. If you need attention, that's a pretty good way to get it. Pretty good trick, but you need the numbers to pull it off.

Fortunately for the Tamil community, they do. Weeks ago, as I walked home from work, I came across one of the earlier protests in which the community did a march around Toronto's core. I saw them straggling up Queen's Park Crescent, a quiet area where pedestrian traffic is light. I thought they were walking home from a rally. But as I continued east and hit Yonge Street, I came across them again. Carrying flags and concentrating on the west side of the street (but spilling over to the east side and complemented by cars driving up and down Yonge), they formed a chain accented by their red flags - a strong presence as far as the eye could see both to the north and the south, and impossible to ignore. I was thrilled, and a little envious that even the largest protests I've been part of have never achieved that effect.

As the protests have continued, occupying University Avenue, I've read the inevitable racist comments in the online papers. "These people don't have the right to come to our country and protest." "They shouldn't be allowed to block our streets."

Way to miss the point, people.

Have you thought about the things that bother you about government action or inaction, and have you ever done anything to try to effect change? Have you made any effort to raise awareness about injustice or wrongdoing? Or are we just too comfortable with our lifestyle - too busy to protest?

Ask yourself why so many people are part of these protests. Why are so many members of the Tamil community taking the time and making the effort to get out on the streets?

Now ask yourself if you would get off your ass and do something if your relatives were in danger. Would you act if they were being killed? Would you protest if your people were the target of genocide?

No doubt, tomorrow there will be more angry letters to the editor from people who were stuck in traffic as a result of the protests. For me, I'm ok with many hours of gridlock if it results in more people speaking out about the apathy of governments like Harper's - apathy toward the killing campaign being waged on the other side of the world. Wake up, people.


L-girl said...

Nice post - and nice to see you blogging. I'm putting up a post about this right now.

Kim_in_TO said...