I wouldn’t call myself an activist. (Let’s be real here, I’m a Canadian, and Canadians. Are. Passive. Don’t get me wrong – I’d be overjoyed to be proven wrong here.)
An activist is Harvey Milk. Is Rosa Parks. Is Martin Luther King. Is Guy Fawkes. Is Nelson Mandela. Is Gloria Steinem. Is Julian Assange. Is Banksy. An activist is one who fights. I don’t fight, I write. Or, let me rephrase, I fight with my words. I try to educate, and I make that my goal because I think that’s what this world needs more of: knowledge, awareness, and understanding.
I’ve been drawn to youth empowerment since I became a complicated bundle of political opinion and (hopefully) logical perspective in grade 10. When I discovered history, I discovered story, and I found that not all stories are written equal. And that saddened me – why? Because everyone deserves a chance to tell their story. Atheists AND monks. Government AND civilians. Elders AND youth. Men AND Women. That’s what democracy is really about to me. It’s not one for all or all for one, it’s both. It’s,
“I’m telling my story because I think it’s also a part of your story.”
So how do you get democracy in a country like Canada, which exudes democracy’s promises while simmering under denial? We vote. We vote like motherfuckers. (See here for one of my favourite pieces of writing, ever.) We vote like the country depends on it, like accountability and responsibility and transparency depends on US. The surprisingly true aspect is that it does depend on us.
I was never a gung-ho political activist. Yes, I had my ardent need to voice the unheard stories of the oppressed (I still do); yes, I felt the passion to go out and protest. But I never did. Until this year. This year, I’m pissed.
Once I started reading the newspaper and attending modern sociology classes with incredible profs, I saw what a sham our government really is. And not just the American government, the Canadian government too. Voting is NOT representative. If I vote for the Green Party where I live (Markham), chances are the Liberals are going to win and my vote won’t matter one bit in the big picture. That seems more than a little unfair to me.
Our government raises tuition and cries about lack of education. Our government sends people to Libya and Afghanistan and wants no questions. Our government is NOT accountable to us. Our government ministers are funded by the rising tax cuts to multi-billion dollar companies, who in turn make the government’s decisions MUCH easier to make. Our government is not making the best decisions for us.
I’m pissed because of Libya, Egypt, Iran and Tunisia. I’m pissed because people don’t have choice and they fight, and when we HAVE choice, we watch the elections commence on our TVs while sitting on our arses. Who does that? Are we really so apathetic? Doesn’t anyone give a shit that our world isn’t sustainable – environmentally or economically or morally – if we keep idiots in power? Doesn’t anyone give a shit about what kind of world their kids will live in, if this is the world we’re living in now? Doesn’t anyone care that public transit sucks, that tuition is rising, that healthcare is weakening, and that baby boomers make all the choices for a world that we will live in long after they’ve died? I’m pissed because we have a chance to make it all better. Maybe we can’t FIX everything. We’re not perfect, neither are our “leaders.” But we have a chance to make it better.
You don’t have to agree with me about our current El Jefe, but you should care – about the quality of our leaders and their decisions. It will affect you.
My point is that the youth – WE – are not DUMB. We’re not stupid, under-educated, volatile, emotional or reckless. So we need to stop acting like it. We live in a highly empowered and powerful country that is slowly slipping in international rankings for respectability.
What’s amazing to me, an immigrant, is that my home country (Russia) and Canada have so much in common. We are a nation of artists, of poets, of writers, and dreamers. And yet we both have multi-billionaires hiking our taxes, wasting our opportunities, and – as a general overview – stealing our money. We’re both represented by the lackluster and strongly conservative “majority.” But we ARE the majority. The kids are NOT alright, but we have a way to protest.
Scare the government, scare the MPs, scare the billionaires.
We are the future. We HAVE opinions, we HAVE voices, and we HAVE stories. Show our parents, our bosses, and our professors that we exist. We don’t all have to be activists, but we should all be active in the building of our future.
Go scare the fuck out of this country on May 2nd.
Elizabeth May – Green Party (Let’s also make sure she gets to debate, eh? Discourse is power.)
Gilles Duceppe – Bloc Quebecois (Get an English website, guys.)
Michael Ignatieff – Liberal
Stephen Harper – Conservative
Jack Layton – New Democrats (NDP)