A Word from Atop the Soapbox

Protest: an expression or declaration of objection, disapproval, or dissent, often in opposition to something a person is powerless to prevent or avoid: a protest against increased taxation.

There is no place hotter than inland Florida during the summer months. Humidity clings to the air like tween girls to one other upon a Justin Bieber sighting. So to be dressed in proper ’80s business attire (it was, after all, the summer of 1986) which included hose, heels and an “I Am Woman Take Me Seriously” paisley silk bow tie scarf, it had to be some sort of important occasion. And it was.

I was blowing off summer classes in Gainesville and driving in a van with some pals to participate in my first protest. In Tallahassee. At the capital building. Outside. The cause: stopping tuition hikes.

In my world in the era of Reagan-omics, protests and other forms of political activism were relegated to the ideological fringe, even on a college campus. In those days, my personal resolve wasn’t developed or particularly strong and I, at least on the surface, went along to get along. I would look at the outspoken souls who chained themselves to the doors of the campus administrative building to protest economic involvement in South Africa (which in those days was still under the cloud of apartheid) and wonder what it would be like to join them. Never had enough nerve or self-confidence to do so. The pull of peer pressure and acceptance was too great.

When the opportunity to “march on Tally” came up, I jumped at it immediately. And march we did. Carrying signs, shouting chants “Stop Tuition Hikes NOW!” Making nice for the photo ops. Cameras still and video documented our activity – many from around the state. Cool! A rewarding day and good deed done.

Once back home in Gainesville, I checked the answering machine in my ghetto apartment (now that’s another story for another day) and found a message from my parents. Who wondered how my day was. They had seen me in a news clip about the protest. And until then, had no idea where/what I was doing. Yeah. That was a fun ensuing message.

Fight the power. Except if it’s paying your bills.

Unless you’re new here (and if you are, Hello! Welcome! Come on in! Can I get you something to drink?) you probably know that these days I lean a little to the left (HA!) on most issues political, social and the like. I don’t have many kindred spirits in this arena in my real life (I am but a curiosity to the many, many Republican conservatives I know) – and as a result, I try to keep my mouth shut and relegate my opinions and actions to speaking carefully when asked specifically to do so and blathering virtual words. Like these. Funny how that works, isn’t it…

The colossal brouhaha in the Gulf with gushing oil, smoke, mirrors, excuses and repercussions has, basically, gotten me all riled up. More than likely, it’s because this one hits close to home – literally. I live 10 minutes from the Gulf and if the breeze blows just right, I can smell the salt air on my patio. My casual poo-poo-ing of a situation usually just involves some research, maybe a letter ripped off to the appropriate governmental representative and a lot of verbal indignation.

Not this time.

I want to take some action. To make me feel like I’m doing something to help the situation. Make a difference. And at first blush, I thought protesting might be the answer. Marching with a sign, in the Florida heat, letting my voice be heard. Except this time, it would be for something slightly more global than what my college classes cost an hour. I found details of organized protests across my county, where people would stand and chant and wave signs in front of BP stations.

But. Something about that didn’t set right with me. And so I delayed my pursuit.

After thinking about it for a bit (and after a thoughtful conversation with the slightly more conservative Mister) I realized that while it would feel good – to me – to express my righteous indignation via a classic protest, it’s not all that pro-active. It’s the bigwigs at BP at whom I want to direct my ire – not the dude or dudette who owns the station. (And yeah I know that a protest of this nature isn’t just about that, but it’s not the route I personally want to take.)

I guess I’m just looking for something tangible to **do** to demonstrate how I feel – and to help. Not just to restate the obvious when it comes to blam and say “Bad BP, bad BP.” But to work to make the situation better.

Maybe that’s uber-idealogical of me. It’s how I’m wired, for better or for worse. Dwelling on pointing fingers for extended periods of time isn’t constructive, in my opinion. Getting about the business of pro-active assistance is.

So while you won’t see me on the news wielding a sign and chanting in front of a filling station, you might, should the situation have escalated so, see me with my bottle of blue Dawn on the Gulf coast here in my part of the F-L-A, cleaning oil off a precious sea creature and giving them some TLC. And you can be sure I’ll keep reading and learning and expressing my righteous indignation, even if only in words.

And someday, you will catch me in a protest for something when I believe it will be the most constructive thing to do. Make sure you call or e-mail me when you see me on the news. Thanks. That would be groovy.

1 comment:

Web-Betty said...

It's so frustrating seeing what's going on the the oil travesty in the gulf and not being able to really do anything about it. When I blogged my little ban on BP post yesterday, I knew that by not buying gas at BP I'm really only appeasing myself.

Alas, sometimes that's all you can do. :(