Education

Why Is It Difficult for People to Join Green Protests (Or Any Other Kind)?

I went to one of the main Seattle Climate Strike Events #climatestrike by City Hall during my lunch time today. It was emotional, beautiful and empowering, like other protests I have joined before. There were around five thousand people there, which was a good turnout, but why not more? It made me think that people have hesitations and often find excuses to not join civic events, even when they do care and support the cause.

Let’s go through some reasons on why one would not join a protest and bust some myths:

1.The time of the protest is not convenient for me.

Research, research, and research. If you can’t find the time to go to a particular march or even, it is quite possible that other people also can’t and there will be an ALTERNATIVE event for you to attend. If in the vast realm of the internet and social media, you still can’t find anything else, take charge and organize one yourself. If you have a limited time, just show up for one hour or so! It’s better than not showing up at all. If you can’t physically be there, there may be an online petition or digital movement for you to participate. Again, this is better than not doing anything at all.

2. I don’t have the time, talent or energy to make signs.

Okay, some folks go above and beyond on marches and dress on costumes or print really massive banner signs in advance, but you don’t have to go all that way. Even my 6-year-old can create a sign. Anyone can create a sign. Pick any recycled boxes, google some ideas, and write something big and impactful. Total time of the exercise: 15 minutes, yes, 15 minutes MAX.

3. Protests are really dangerous and I am afraid for my personal safety.

Most protests are EXTREMELY safe. I went to the march today and there were babies being worn by their moms and dads or on strollers, lots of kids sitting on the asphalt, and even dogs chilling out. You will find there many nice people that are passionate about your cause and this will fill your energy tank with their support, chants, positive rage, and lots of love.

4. The event is not quite accessible and I will get tired really easily.

Most organized events will provide an alternate route by bus or train (if available on your city), and the walks are relatively short. In the protest I attended today for instance, I was able to photograph small kids walking with their parents and even folks in wheelchairs. Yes, if they can do it, you can probably do it too.

5. I don’t have friends to go with me and I don’t want to go alone.

You won’t be alone even if your colleagues or friends can’t show up. Go there by yourself and at the moment you join the group, you will feel that you simply belong there. In fact, you will likely be surrounded by people that think a lot more like you, even perhaps more than your own family and friends that didn’t find the time to show up to the cause.

6. You and others are going, so I feel like I don’t need to go.

Okay, if everyone was going to follow this line of thinking, well, there would be nobody at the protest. Think of a protest as a doctor’s appointment when you have a flu — nobody truly wants to be there, you wish you didn’t have a disease to combat at all, but you do and you know it. It is necessary and by going there this will help you and others be healthy and safe. You just need to prioritize the visit. You can’t send your friend to the doctor in your place.

7. The commute is going to be terrible and I don’t want to deal with that.

Prioritize your day so you have a bit more flexibility with your commute or plan the time you are going to be at the protest. Nobody is going to be upset at you if you come early and leave early. The important piece is to show up at some point. Think about the doctor’s appointment example again… Do you not go to your appointment because the traffic will be bad later?

8. I don’t know much about the “x” crisis, so I don’t feel qualified to go to the protest.

If this is a massive protest, chances are this is going to be all over the news. Any major publication will probably be a good source of information about the what/why/who/where/when of the protest. A 10-minute reading can solve your problem! Still feeling unprepared? Don’t fear! Many of the rallies have guest speakers that will likely repeat the goals of the protest and even be a bit redundant on the reasons to be there.

What else do I need to know about march and protests?

Pretty simple, right? Can we count you in to the next one?

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