Quebec student protests – take the detour and be thankful

Image

Tolerate the road closures and delays to your schedule. Endure the demonstrations and banging of pots. See past the muddled message and unfocused anger.

Because there is something very important behind these never-ending protests, something that is getting lost in all this right or wrong, us vs them.

The same thing happened during the Occupy protests. Hundreds of thousands in cities around the globe committing themselves to weeks out in the cold in order to say, out loud and to the world, that things are not Ok and this will not do. In light of the recent economic collapse caused by an obviously dysfunctional global system, we should have supported these camping vanguards wholeheartedly, should have given their fight for change our full backing.

But we did not. Instead the minority who welcomed their courage were drowned out by the majority who dismissed them as hippies in tents who should get a job.

Why?

Why so resistant to those giving themselves for a greater good? Why so quick to simplify and categorize?

If we were in the middle of a 20-year run of healthy economy, fair wages, and social justice – then dismissing protesters might be understandable. But clearly we are not. Things are messed up. Structurally, systematically messed up. So supporting those who hit the streets and demand something different should be a given.

Disagree with some of their arguments? Ok that’s cool. But given how glaringly wrong the situation is (growing income inequality; high taxes yet huge debt) and how outdated the solutions are (drilling and fracking in search of oil money; billions for new prisons while cutting education and social programs), the protesters refusal to backdown from “practical” solutions should inspire, not annoy.

The same old ways do not work. And finally somebody is saying so.

Ironically, many of the same people who automatically dislike the protests and who complain that the students are “spoiled” – are probably the same people who comment on the materialism of today’s youth, who shake their heads at kid’s walking around with headphones, texting their lives away. Kid’s today have got it all wrong. It’s not like it used to be.

So what is it that you want?

A detached and apathetic youth too materialistic to care about anything?  Or a passionate, if somewhat irrational, generation willing to take to the streets in defence of what they believe is a greater good?

Which would you prefer? What kind of culture do you want for your children?

We send our kids to school in ever-increasing numbers. We ask them to be well-rounded and learn of the world. Yet when they finally decide to speak up and use this education and broader perspective, why do we so quickly label and dismiss them?

Their youth and immaturity may indeed cause them to occasionally act out of line, but maybe these highly educated young adults can see something that you don’t. Maybe they have a fresh perspective. Maybe they resist seemingly rational solutions because they can see outside of this old bubble we are living in. Maybe, because of just that immaturity that makes them seem so irrational, they can still imagine a system that is different, that does not automatically return to the status quo.

Disagree with some of their opinions? Fine. Condemn some their more aggressive actions? Definitely.

But welcome their passion. Learn from their fresh perspective. And above all else, appreciate their willingness to got out and give a shit.

Because one day an issue may arise that you do care about, one that hits you very close to home and that you are powerless to fight…and when that day comes you will be very glad that you are a part of a culture that cares, that is willing to go out hit the streets.