Why I lovehate protests

my first protest i can remember going to was when ringling brothers was in chicago and of course the activists came out to protest their crazy animal abuse. it was winter in chicago and if i remember correctly the temperature was in the teens. there was no free parking in the area where we were protesting so i parked by a restaurant and went in and bought something so i wouldn’t get towed… i’m paranoid! i grabbed a sign that talked about elephant abuse and i joined the other protesters as we stood silently supporting the animals. for a while i was passing out coloring books to kids as they walked into the circus- an educational coloring book that helped show the horrors of the circus in a kid friendly way. while i was there i saw something amazing happening. kids were asking their parents why we were there. they were asking why the elephants looked so sad on our posters. some just stared wide eyed and wondering what was going on… and i realized we were planting seeds. maybe the kid will go to the circus and love it… but maybe that seed will get watered throughout that kid’s life… he’ll go to another circus and see more protesters… he’ll go on facebook and see a friend’s post about it. he’ll overhear a conversation between activists. he’ll watch a movie about elephant abuse. and maybe he’ll one day be at the protests or explaining to his kids why they don’t go to the circus. just because this seeds were planted. that’s why i love protests… they can educate, inform, and actually make a difference.

however there’s a big down side to protests. they’re HARD. they’re physically and emotionally draining. whether it’s 15 degrees at a ringing protest in Chicago or a 90 degree protest at Sea World in San Diego the weather isn’t always great for standing still. and standing still for that long is boring. and it’s hard on your body. your feet start to hurt. maybe you wore flip flops on that 85 degree day and the tops of your feet are getting sunburn. your back starts to ache. you ran out of things to think about or chat about with the person next to you. and while you’re going through this physical strain there are people flicking you off. telling you to go to hell. telling you to get a job. telling you to fuck off. all i want to do is open some eyes. I’m not being violent. I’m not getting in your face. and typically i’m not yelling at you (though i’ve done those protests too). why do you feel the need to argue with me? to tell me i’m doing something wrong or make a judgement about my character because i’m standing there? it’s frustrating and can be very emotionally draining.

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But given the pros you can’t just not do it. i mean… you can. if it’s not your thing it’s not your thing- you go find your thing and you rock it! but don’t give up just because it’s hard. if you really believe in something it’s worth it to take that stand and show the world what you believe in. you never know- it could make a world of difference!

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So how to defeat the burnout? surround yourself with positive people and energy. take time to do awesome things for yourself. make sure whatever you need to do to re-fill your bucket is getting done. because you’re not helping everyone if you get burned out! So my top five protest tips?

  1. Do your research- find out ahead of time where you’re going, what time you need to be there, and how long you’ll be there
  2. Wear comfortable shoes! You might be on your feet for a looooong time. not a good opportunity to try out those new boots you just bought
  3. Bring water. If you’re chanting you’ll definitely need a sip here and there to wet your throat. and even if not, if it’s a longer protest you’ll want to make sure you’re staying hydrated so bring along your (reusable) water bottle!
  4. Find a protest buddy. someone you can go to protests with or at least commiserate with about the experience. having someone to share the experience with you makes it better and can help with the frustration you might feel during/after
  5. Thank the organizer. a ton of work goes into coordinating anything and protests are no exception. Make sure they know how much they’re appreciated.

 

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