I was going to write about The Montreal Jazz Festival, which started on Friday, but with all the chaos that’s going on in Toronto this weekend, I feel I must switch focus and discuss the peaceful protests and the violence.
In case you don’t pay attention to the news, Toronto is currently hosting the G20 Summit, a meeting of the world’s leading financial rulers. According to Wikipedia, 19 countries plus the European Union are represented in this forum, which was established in 1999 after the Asian financial crisis in 1997. Together, the economies of the G20 comprise 85% of the global gross national product, 80% of international trade and two-thirds of the world’s population. It’s been publicized that this Summit cost $1.1 billion and is the most expensive security operation in Canadian history. Toronto has literally been shut down from June 25th to the 27th, the duration of the conference. A boundary was erected around the Toronto Convention Centre (where I taught at the Yoga Show in March) and as reported by the Globe & Mail, 10,000 uniformed police officers, 1,000 security guards, and several Canadian military forces were deployed enforce the rule of law over thousands of protesters.
A lot of people are upset by the cost of the Summit and are particularly infuriated by Prime Minister Stephen Haper’s now infamous ‘fake lake’ that was built inside the Convention Centre as decor and had a price tag of $57,000. But that’s just the tip of the iceburg, the real frustration boils down to concerns over how the world leaders are dealing with the Gulf Oil Catastrophe, world poverty, the ongoing environmental destruction, and all the other human and ecological rights violations that plague on planet.
Personally, I think protests are really ineffective means of instituting change, because in every major protest there is inevitably a small group of assholes who toss Molotov cocktails, smash windows, throw rocks at police, burn police cars. Unfortunately, these misguided individuals soak up all the media attention and ruin the credibility of all protesters. So far, there has more than 500 arrests this weekend in Toronto. There are hundreds of videos circulating online of the violence. Craig’s been following the news closely, so I watched one or two. It made me angry.
To me, protests are really useless. I know this is a controversial statement, but I don’t retract it. I grew up marching in protests from the age of 6 months. My mom is an activist, so she would bring me along. Although I don’t discredit my mother’s efforts nor am I denouncing other peaceful protests, but surely there is a better way to inspire change than to hold a placard scream “No.”
My last protest was ten years ago in April 2000 at the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas Summit in Quebec City. There were approximately 100,000 demonstrators. I, at 18, was among them with my Pentax film camera. My intention was to document the protest for the Canadian University Press. From what I witnessed, the protest was 99% peaceful. I took pictures of beautiful puppets and mothers nursing there babies, but the main stream media only focused on the aggressive Anarchists at the fence around the Summit. I saw them too. Curious, I walked around Vieux Quebec with my other student journalist friends. I remember the tear gas being so thick, we couldn’t see across the street. At one point, I got separated from my group and found myself alone. I was completely disoriented and so I tried to approach a group of riot police. They must have felt threatened or something, because they fired round of rubber bullets at me. I ran full throttle down the cobble stone street and ducked behind a parked car, only to hear its wind shield shatter from the impact of a stray bullet. I was pretty frightened and mostly disappointed by the whole experience. What’s the point of demonstrations, if most people don’t take them seriously?
Since then, I have committed myself and my work to changing the world in a different way. I only work for what I believe in and I devout my energy towards inspiring others to live healthy and conscientiously. I’m still activist, but you won’t find me at any mass protest. I’ll be here, everlastingly soapboxing the way to heal the outer world is to heal our inner world first.
As for today’s 108, I’m still working out my left shoulder tensions. My neighbor Anthea reminded me of a posture our teacher shared with us that helps alleviate shoulder and neck tensions. Fittingly, it’s called the Banker’s Pose.