The Art of Protesting 

July 5, 2024   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

Somehow, I find myself reading a lot about protesting and I think it is one of our better strengths because, in the end, however long the protesting against injustice and dangerous government policies lasts, it can be the deciding factor of how that society proceeds. 

Perhaps the bravest and least successful are the protests of the women in Afghanistan, where after 20 years of “war,” the US and other Western forces abandoned the stress and apparently futile effort to crush the Taliban and very dramatically, left the country to the tyrants. They left interpreters, women, young and old – it was truly a disaster of an exit running after decades of disastrous fighting, pain and ultimate failure.

What a strange and terrible regime has established itself in Kabul as a tyranny with a special hatred and fear of women, who are kept from being educated on all levels; kept from doing any kind of work outside their home, whether they have a source of income otherwise or not; kept from travelling further than 72 kilometres without a male relative as escort; most recently forced to wear clothing that covers them completely except for their eyes.

Perhaps, in stretching to pretense the laws of their religion, the men of the Taliban seek to hide their fear of women, for the spirit of women, the spirit of people to resist repression and punishment never really dies. Sometimes, boldly in the streets, the Afghani women have walked and shouted and even carried signs calling for change from the regime but the police beat them and arrested them to torture and pain. Still, and it will ever be, women will protest and they will resist in quiet ways, closeted amongst themselves, teaching their daughters, quietly, very quietly.

Around the world, young people are joined by their seniors to protest against the nearly fatal abuse of our planet. A young woman named Lauren stood before a gathering of Equinor shareholders in May this year to tell them that the development of the Rosebank oil field must not go forward. She promised that people would come out in the thousands to stop it.

Rosebank is the largest oil field in the UK, in the North Sea, with an estimated 500 million barrels of oil to access.

Likewise Norway, with all its – as we the world thought – green policies and incentives is giving licenses to explore and drill in this North Sea project but the true costs are not admitted and the protesters will have their hands full to stop it – an issue of whose determination can prevail.

The tyranny of money pushes mindlessly forward and people protest and will never stop bringing court cases against the governments and the companies determined to drill and extract oil and gas, no matter the damage and danger.

A statistic from #StopRosebank tells us: “200m+ tonnes of CO2 from burning Rosebank’s reserves are more than the annual CO2 emissions of all 28 low-income countries, home to 700m people; equivalent to running 56 coal-fired power stations for a year.”

Afghanistan and even the UK may sound as though they are far away and the protests in the rest of the world might feel as though they are not our problem but we know now that this world has shrunk or expanded – take your pick. Everywhere influences everywhere else. Because we have access to information instantly, that knowledge gives us power and responsibility to match the efforts of others and protest against the money and the tyranny in our own part of the world.

Oil and gas tell the same lies and push successfully for massive government tax breaks here in Canada and here in Ontario, in our neighbourhood, there is just as serious a problem to protest and that is the issue of development. Not the mere fact of building houses but where they are built and how many. The attack on our Green Belt whichn was met with excellent push-back from protesters who care for the life and land, is still in need of protection since the authority and wisdom of Conservation Authorities have been slashed and farmland in this very valuable fertile Golden Horseshoe is being consumed by over 300 acres per day, according to reporting done by The Narwhal.

Protesters are and will continue stepping up against Highway 413. Now, the new Ontario government’s anti-density Bill 185 restrains building within city limits and maintains the continued determination to build on farmland and protected land.

The following open letter to Doug Ford outlines the risks of his Bill 185:

So, going back, why do I say that the men of the Taliban fear women? Because women are the source of life; their seemingly soft bodies nevertheless carry the future. Because women are wise to see through tyranny to the hope in their children’s eyes; because women are the cornerstone of love, without which all is worthless bluster.

Men can be strong, wise and loving. Truth is, in spite of foolish rhetoric, truth is men understand too, that working shoulder to shoulder with women, every good thing is possible.

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