Yesterday, 2nd February 2017, I attended a protest organised by “People before Profit Cork”. A peaceful crowd of approximately four hundred people gathered on Daunt’s Square, St. Patrick’s Street, Cork, to protest against Trump’s travel ban imposed on the seven countries designated by his executive order signed on 27 January 2017. Executive Order 13769 – “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorism Entry into the United States.” A travel ban against Muslims and refugees.
I looked around at the people who gathered around the speakers. People from all walks of life. A semi-circled tide of slogans:
“No ban! No wall! Love trumps hate.”
“Humpty Trumpty had a great fall.”
“What unites us is stronger than what seeks to divide us.”
“I stand by Muslims.”
“I bet he [Trump] doesn’t like dogs!” (The lady had two really cute dogs with her – awesome!)
There were other slogans that were HILARIOUS that included some words that can only be used after the 9pm watershed. Since I don’t know what age you are and what time this article is being read, I’m afraid, I’ll have to leave those out.
And so, we marched.
After some inspirational speakers said a few words, the crowd marched along St. Patrick Street to a rhythmic chant.
“No hate! No fear! Immigrants are welcome here! No hate! No fear! Immigrants are welcome here!”
Whilst I walked with my homemade banner, that was now quite soggy from the rain, I thought about why I had decided to join the protest. I have a keen interest in current affairs. I fact, I would go as far as to say I have an addiction to watching the news (which is occasionally interrupted by episodes of Peppa Pig and Ben and Holly’s magical kingdom). Like others, I feel a level of anxiety and worry when I watch what is happening globally. But that isn’t the main reason as to why I decided to demonstrate.
Leading by example
I have a beautiful little girl. I am Irish. Her father is South African. I am Buddhist. Her father is agnostic. Her family tree can be traced back to Norway, Wales and England. Her maternal great-grandmother was an orphan in the north of England so we don’t have any information about my mother’s side of the family, so, who knows, there could be more countries to add to her lineage. Like many children, she is a global child.
The other day, I wondered, what would happen in years to come if she learns about these times in her history lessons and asks, “Mummy, where were you?”.
She lives in a country filled with diversity. Rich in Irish and international culture. She is surrounded by the melodies of different languages. This is the type of world that I want her to live in. A world where she has the freedom to learn, to ask questions, to travel and to be accepted for who she is.
That is why I was there.
A choir of voices
And so, the march continued. I noticed that passers-by joined in. One couple told me they were in Cork for a few days and they were out for a stroll this evening so they decided to participate. They seemed happy to be there. I was happy to be there. Standing shoulder to shoulder in solidarity was a great feeling.
Sure, some might say, “but you were just walking in the rain, with a piece of floppy, wet cardboard with a bunch of strangers. What’s the point?”
Here’s my point
The majority of us sit and watch the news and we feel helpless. Because we can’t do anything. Or we may feel we shouldn’t do anything. But we can. Because we each have a voice. When our voices collect and we articulate ourselves with dignity and respect, great changes can occur. This has been proved right through history e.g. the Civil Rights Movement, The Women’s Rights Movement.
I’m not telling you to go out and protest. It is not my place, nor anyone else’s to tell you what to do. All I’m saying is, believe in the power of your own voice. Believe, that in some small way, you can help to make a difference.