Alone in a crowd of opposition.
I suppose this post is more of a heartfelt piece about how lonely it feels to be an advocate for change in a community of people who seem to think that everything is fine.
Last night I was speaking to a friend of mine who recently moved back to Ontario from B.C. I had posted a link to my Facebook page about a young First Nations boy in Alberta who had worn a traditional braid to school only to have it cut off by a bully. She told me how upset she felt that something like that could happen and how it moved her personally because her son and daughter are also First Nations children. She was also the only person who commented. We spoke on the subject for a while and I confessed to her that at times, I feel as though my voice is inaudible and lost.
How can it be that there is still so much ignorance and racism in the world? When I have shown support for indigenous people I’m often met with words such as “but we won the war for the land, they should get over it” or “well they don’t have to pay taxes, what else do they want?” and it enrages me. I’m a white woman with only partial knowledge and understanding of everything that these people had suffered. If I was enraged, I could only imagine how hurtful and hateful comments like this made them feel. How could so many people in my own community really be saying these words? How did they not know the true, bloody and gory history of our country?
And it isn’t just the racism, which seems to be running rampant, it’s every injustice that I try to call attention to. When I speak about climate change, that dreaded term, no one comments. Oil spills, plastic pollution, poaching, and so on, I say it, they ignore it. In fact, if anyone does comment at all, it’s only to take the opportunity to slap some kind of label on me, like the “recycle nazi”, or the “hippie tree hugger” as if there is something wrong with recycling and appreciating trees and nature. Once I brought a vegan meal to a gathering and a young man became irate and demanded that I eat some “real food” because I guess sweet potatoes, pasta salad and asparagus is of the phony, imitation food variety. Even when talking about women’s rights, some of my own female friends have taken the opportunity to bash feminism. I asked them, “so, you don’t want the same rights as your husband or any other person?” and they all said “well, yes of course!” Well my friend, that’s a part of feminism.
It seems so odd to me that these are topics that we even need to debate anymore. Should all people be considered people no matter their race, gender, status or sexual orientation? Yes. Should we strive to have cleaner air and water? Yes. Should we try to prevent animals from going extinct at our own hands? Yes. Do I often feel like the only person who believes any of this? Yes. Sometime’s it feels like I’m drowning in a sea of indifference about to watch the world around me slowly disintegrate as everyone else carries on with business as usual, turning a blind eye towards their own demise. However, I will never let anything stop me from doing what I feel is right. Even if I have to go it alone.
copyright Chantal Shanks 2018