Activism without chaos
Huddled around a kitchen table on a grey fall afternoon, the activists are up to something.
The young men and women — all under the age of 21, wearing pink hair and socially conscious T-shirts — carefully prepare the ingredients of their message to the world. A Molotov cocktail? A pipe bomb? A computer virus to wipe out the world's banks? Nope. Try vegetable soup.
'We usually serve only vegetarian dishes,' explains Adrian Morrow, 17, a volunteer with Calgary's Food Not Bombs.
Every Wednesday, the group meets to prepare meals they then distribute to hungry Calgarians suffering from poverty.
It's a far cry from the images of mass demonstrations, such as at the 1999 World Trade Organization riots in Seattle or a similar raucous G-8 protest in Genoa two years later that cost one protester his life.
But Morrow says activism is not just about gas masks and confrontations with riot police.
'Obviously, when people show up at a protest, it is to send a message like we have to bring down the G-8 or bring down the military industrial complex, or stop war,' he explained. 'But when you get away from those big protests, you find activism is about building alternatives. It is something that will help us in the present.'
Morrow is among a new generation of activists trying to make a difference through peaceful and sometimes political means.
Two years ago, University of Calgary student Amber Cherpinsky joined the Young Liberals, a wing of the federal political party.
'People would be better off using political parties for (societal) change,' Cherpinsky said.
In an effort to combat political apathy among young Calgarians, the youth representatives of the Liberal, Conservative and Alliance parties have started a high school outreach program.
The three parties speak with students about the political process, and how students can get involved. According to Cherpinsky, the best way is to dive right in.
'Sign up. We hold youth events key to creating policies on a wide range of issues: gay marriage, marijuana, Kyoto. We are not wishy-washy -- we tell you where we stand. Our policies are always evolving alongside the beliefs of grassroots organizations.'
While Cherpinsky and Morrow have differing views, they share a desire to see more young people involved with their communities.
'If you want to feel like you are doing the right thing,' Morrow said, 'or want a society where you can live with freedom and equality, and if you want a better society for your children, and if you want to feel like you deserve all the really good things you've got, (you) do have a responsibility to get involved.'
The article ‘Activism without Chaos’ is an article that offers alternative solutions to youth who suffer from societal unrest. It suggests volunteering to help others who are in need. It suggests fighting for your beliefs by entering politics and getting involved in communities. There is a large number of youth today that feel change is needed in today’s society. We are disorganized, and don’t know how to go about creating this change. Some youth rebel against their families and some their schooling. Others rebel against everything popular. Some youth spray paint, and others deface newspaper boxes and other forms of media. Some support movements such as ‘Buy Nothing Day’ (Nov.28) and make sure they know where every dollar of their money goes, ensuring they support the beneficiaries. All of these forms of protest are scattered and weak.
The article is a political recruitment strategy. They are trying to get more youth to enter politics so they can create an organized and more powerful belief system. However, I see this as a way to weaken personal belief systems and promote a collective voice that might not be unanimous. It is the system we have, and it is our country’s foundation, our Democracy. Majority rules. This is why I feel politics are not the answer. I feel the key to fighting the system does not lie within the system, but getting around it, cutting it off. It’s how I feel about the education system as well, but I have run into some complications. I have no solutions, no alternatives. This article is about promoting alternatives, and alternatives are never a bad thing. Fundamentally, youth rebellion, creative vandalism, organized and disorganized protest, volunteering, and political parties all have the same base goal: To show the alternatives. To show that there are different ways of thinking, of living, and to create purpose. They are all ways to try and put individual beliefs into the minds of others. This is the drive for many people, for some, a way of life, and others, a purpose in that life. In the middle of writing this article, I went on the net and joined the Green party. Maybe I am a hypocrite, but maybe I can just see more than one side to an issue. Maybe I can do both. I was in the G8 riots in Quebec city. I saw protesters get shot with rubber bullets and tear gas canisters. I got tear gassed. First, it seeped into every exposed pore and burned into them. Then it attacked my eyes, burning them so I could no longer see. I inhaled it, burning all the way down into my lungs. I lost my equilibrium, I fell over, crawling to get away. I began to dry heave, my body’s reaction to get this toxin out of my system. I got leveled by the water cannon. I got beat with billy clubs by fully armed riot police. I threw a rock through a bank window. Then I went skiing. Most of my friends got arrested, and are still suffering the legal ramifications. Was what we were doing so wrong that it necessitated these actions? I don’t think I have an answer. I didn’t want to hurt anybody, and I don’t think anyone else there was either. Why were we all treated as if we were a well organized army? Did they build a 10 ft high fence to prevent us from getting to close? Are we all wrong in thinking that we have a valid point? We are made to think that we are the enemy. Why? Because we don’t belong to a political party. We choose not to play by their rules, and that’s why we fail. To me, this sounds like a hopeless way to make change. When war was declared, there were peace marches all over the world, millions of people protesting peacefully in opposition to the war. It didn’t change anything. Did we see millions marching peacefully in support of the war? No. Did the citizens vote on going to war? No. So why is a democratic country at war? Because they played the game, they lived through the system, and now they can instill their party’s personal beliefs. Why are so many people satisfied with this system?
It is extremely inefficient. I can only assume that is why there is so much discontent in the world today. If only we found some alternatives.
the only problem with man is that he doesn't know how he ought to live
The more you want something, the less likely it will happen.
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Opinions are like assholes, everybody's got one.
bring Back The 60's!!