I was running a bit late for my protest. I figured that it didn’t matter if I started at 12:07 p.m., because no one would notice or care and I would just finish at 1:07 p.m. I always aim to protest for a full hour.
However, I was shocked to find three women waiting for me – Janet, Kelly and Heather. They rightfully ribbed me for my tardiness!
When we got into position in front of shipyard with our signs, we started to talk about Rehtaeh Parsons. Rehtaeh is the 15-year old girl who committed suicide last week at her home in Cole Harbour. A year and a half ago she was sexually assaulted by some boys in her school and then bullied. A few days later, the media reported that a girl in California also committed suicide under the same tragic circumstances. We talked about this awful affliction of violence against women. Eve Ensler, the feminist playwright said in her famous work The Vagina Monologues, “When you rape, beat, maim, mutilate, burn, bury, and terrorize women, you destroy the essential life energy on the planet.”
Then, we talked about violence against the earth and the terrible environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for shale gas. A Nova Scotia company is storing fracking waste from New Brunswick in a facility in Debert, but the company wants to dump it into the Cobequid Bay. Activists, like my friend Janet, are worried that this toxic waste will contaminate drinking water for communities around the bay and she is trying to prevent that from happening.
Our conversation was interrupted by a car that pulled out of the naval dockyard. The driver, a uniformed military personnel, rolled down his window and said to us, “Hey, we need warships. We need the military. They protect you. It is nasty out there.” We didn’t have time to respond because he drove off, but we reflected on his belief that the world outside our borders is “nasty.” Kelly and I talked about our travels in Asia and how it opened our eyes to the amazing world in which we live. We didn’t share that perception that the world outside our borders is “nasty.”
I thought about my sons’ school. Last Friday, I helped the teachers with Multicultural Day. The students travel from one classroom to the other with their “passports.” Each classroom is a different country and they learn about that country’s unique culture and language. They try to locate the country on the world map and find its flag on the chart. While doing a craft they listen to that country’s music. That day, the students went to Egypt, Iraq, China, Jamaica, Libya, Lebanon, the Congo, and the United Arab Emirates. They had fun celebrating multicultural diversity with their classmates, many who are new immigrants. A couple of the teachers mentioned to me that it is one of the best days at the school, because the students are so engaged. The children are not learning that the world is a “nasty” place but an amazing home that we share with over 6 billion people.
I believe that this manufactured perspective of the Canadian military that the world outside our borders is “nasty” is dangerous because it dehumanizes people who are different from us and makes it easier for us to bomb them. Last year, Canada led the bombing raid of Libya that injured and killed innocent civilians. Last week US/NATO bombs killed 10 Afghan children and 2 women in Kunar.
I want to see and strive for beauty, peace, and justice in the world not blinded by the “nasty.”
22 honks and waves. Approximately 9 swears and scowls.
Dedication: I’m dedicating my protest today to anti-mining activists in Central America like Sandra Carolina Ascencio. She is a member of the Coalition Against Metal Mining in El Salvador (the Mesa) and the Franciscan Office for Peace, Justice and the Integrity of Creation. The Mesa is calling for Pacific Rim, a Canadian mining company, to halt development of its mine and drop its lawsuit against the government of El Salvador. Many people have been assassinated for protesting Canadian mining operations in their countries that pollute the water and soil and displace the local communities. I would also like to acknowledge the solidarity work of Canadians who speak out against mining injustice – my tireless anti-mining and social justice activist friend Tracy, MiningWatch, and the Council of Canadians.