You may have heard about the far right-wing convoy of trucks that has occupied our capital in Canada for nearly two weeks. The organizers are opposed to all covid mandates and to the federal government. Their message has spread to demonstrations in other cities, to the border with the U.S. and around the world.
I have been very disturbed by this turn of events. During a recent night of little sleep I began compiling my own list of country-wide demonstrations I’d like to see. Once I got started, the list became very long with the issues relating to and intertwining with each other as they do. As I look at all the things I’d love to change in our world, I keep coming back to the problem of the enormous difference in wealth between a very few people and companies and the rest of the world. So the issue of needing a tax on wealth, say on anything over 10 million dollars, is high on my list of demonstrations I’d like to see. This money could be used to restore funding to public services or to build new services where none exist now.
Looking at healthcare, the extreme importance of a well funded public healthcare system that hasn’t seen cut after cut has been made obvious during the pandemic. As has the need to decriminalize drug use and provide safe injection sites in the present. So many issues, from the crucial need for patent-free vaccines and medicines for the people of the world to halt the pandemic, to the need for paid sick days for workers have been shown as necessary for humane societies. To name only a few social determinants of health—there’s increasing the minimum wage to a living wage, forgiving student debt and making post secondary education free, ending homelessness, bringing in local manufacturing, and so much more. These would make great issues for demonstrations and protests.
The other absolutely fundamental issue is that of climate change. As the earth continues to warm because of our use of fossil fuels, we will see more suffering and could be among the life forms to go extinct. So, climate change action and restoration of nature is an existential priority and would make for crucial cross country actions and protests on foot or by bike or bus or train.
Along with this, I’m very concerned about the growth in hatred. Our species definitely has a problem with hatred and we see its rise around the world. So, I’d like to see anti-hate protests for black lives matter, for truth and reconciliation for indigenous people, convoys opposing: all forms of racism, opposing islamophobia and antisemitism and hatred of immigrants and refugees and homophobia and violence inflicted on girls and women and child abuse, etc.
These changes are vast and may often seem impossible. And they are not the only ones. As I write, I think how could I not have included the need for proportional representation, the need for accessible space for disabled people, the need for not-for-profit long term care, the need for more funding for public schools and daycare, the need for nuclear disarmament. All are interrelated pieces of our fractured society with surely other pieces I’ve overlooked.
We can all pick an issue dear to us and if we look closely see how it relates to everything else. What I want to learn is to not throw up my hands in despair, but to pick any of the issues that most resonate with me at any time and begin some steps to opposing the hatred and injustice in our also beautiful and only world. So this is my small step at not being silent. I don’t normally think of John Lennon’s songs, but in the night when I started my alternative list of convoys, I found myself singing the line from Imagine, “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one..”