I am in awe of those folks who get out and take a stand on the barricades, walk out into the protest crowds, get into the faces of the authorities…. I am in awe of them because I do not have their level of courage. That’s right. The guy who has had bullets fired in his way does not have the courage to get out into the protest fray. Yeah, I hear the question that’s being brought up — and to be honest, I would prefer a roast beef sandwich.
So, what am I afraid of? Not much really. I’m not really comfortable in large crowds. I do have a tremendous fear of heights. But most of that really does not come into play. Unless we’re going to crowd a couple of hundred people on top of a twenty-story building, and have me stand near the edge. No, its not about a fear of something. Its a little different than that for me.
I have my own protest issues that are near and dear to my heart. One of those is about returning lands to the Native Americans – or First Nations as they are noted in Canada and parts of the Northwest United States. I may have about 1/32nd of Native American blood in my DNA — but this is not about returning something to my ancestors. Rather its about returning something to a group of people that was stolen from them — their dignity. But that’s for another blog post/rant for another time. There’s also issues that I have concerning the “Patriot” Act and its related provisions within the United States government — and how all of that curtails the freedoms of the citizenry of this country. I took an oath when I enlisted in the United States Air Force:
I, (state name of enlistee), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
I highlighted the part I am referencing now in bold in the quote. I believe that the Patriot Act subverts the freedoms guaranteed to the citizenry of the United States. I am passionate about my belief that this piece of legislation was an understandable knee-jerk reaction to a point in time — but should never have passed through legislative means to reach enactment. But again, I am sidetracking myself here…
Why am I in awe of those who have no qualm about stepping out to protest against companies? Who have no problem setting themselves in the position of being arrested? Would I not be willing to do the same for the two issues I have noted here? Of course I would be willing to do so for these two issues. They are both major concerns that I have concerning the government of the country I live in. And while I understand what others are standing up for — the issues that they place themselves in jeopardy for — I do not feel enough of the same fervor as they do to place myself in the same position. And its that stance that they take on those issues, which have me in awe of them.
Perhaps, its because I’m not informed enough to take that stance. However, its more likely that I am somewhat jaded in that approach at this point in my life. That merely standing up and protesting is not going to be likely to change any of the situation. And to be open and honest, I wish that I was not that jaded. There’s a moment in the movie Braveheart, where Robert the Bruce is lamenting the fact that he betrayed William Wallace to the English, and he states as much to his father. His father responds that all men betray, all men lose heart. And Robert shouts back “I don’t want to lose heart! I want to believe as he does!” Its that feeling I have when I watch my friends in their protest battles and struggles.
As I write this, I am reminded of a quote from Martin Niemoller, which I came across in high school, when I was researching the manner in which the Nazi party managed to round up the “undesirables” in small groups, with seemingly no resistance.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me. –Martin Niemoller
Niemoller was a Protestant minister who was a critic of Adolf Hitler’s during the pre-war years. His quote reminds me of why I need to stop being in the shadows – particularly where my friends are protesting corporations – particularly corporations who seek changes to laws through their sinister, shadowy connections with various governments. Where those laws get changed to make protesters into terrorists, simply for voicing their opposition.
No I cannot sit idly by, and watch. I may not be able to join in with friends who are protesting in other parts of the United States or Canada – the distance to cover is a little far. But what I can do, is insure that my voice is heard in supporting their positions — whether that be through providing them with funding through GoFundMe campaigns, or writing Emails and letters to my government officials stating my opposition to proposed laws redefining the legal landscape in ways that tilt the game unfairly towards the corporations. I can stand in solidarity by making sure I get to the polls every single time that a ballot initiative is open, and educate myself on the issues prior to getting there.
…and when they do come for my friends, I will be standing there ready to lend a voice of opposition decrying the fact that my friends are being taken – and ready to step in between to insure that my friends are not taken. Even if it means that I may be taken as well. After all, they only have so many handcuffs…perhaps I may be one too many for them.
2 thoughts on “They Only Have So Many Handcuffs…”
You hit the nail on the head! I guess I am to jaded as well to see these large so call protest of boycott this or don’t use that actually working. You and I have one passion that is both dear to our hearts and that is the returning of the land to the Native American Indians. like you said ” Rather its about returning something to a group of people that was stolen from them — their dignity.”. I am wiling to be a voice.
Agreed…but being jaded to the degree that I am, I am essentially following in the footsteps of Niemoller’s quote. In not stepping up and speaking out on those causes that I understand and commiserate with – simply because I do not see how doing so may be “effective” in my own eyes –> I am essentially standing by quietly while the rights and dignity of others gets trampled on. I don’t particularly have a dog in the fight about salaries at Wal Mart or reproductive rights at Hobby Lobby — but in standing by quietly, I am allowing basic rights to be eroded an inch at a time. And while I wait for the 22 yards to be eaten away before the base of my own house gets threatened, the ability to stem the tide of the erosion becomes increasingly weakened, as there is less and less yard to work with. Just a thought….