I accidentally got involved in a protest march this morning.
I mean, I did intentionally go to the protest, with the goal of hanging around in the back and politely clapping, mostly to support my rabbi #2 (not my beloved rabbi #1, who worked with me toward conversion, but the younger rabbi that got hired last summer. I really like her, but I don't luuuurve her as I do rabbi #1), who is an ardent climate change activist.
And the particular arena for activism this morning is practically in my backyard. Let's just say that it indirectly involves fracking and my neighborhood (but there's no actual fracking in my city, thank goodness). We've had a sign up in our yard denouncing the project, so it is actually something I care about, all of which made it more than reasonable for me to show up this morning.
But my plans to stay in the back and clap politely took a few turns. First of all, I saw a friend from temple, which made me happy. Then, she was talking with someone who had painted a big banner, and that person asked if I would mind holding one end of it. And then there was a march to the site, and then the banner I was helping to hold wound up needed to go right to the front of part of the protest. So I spent quite a bit of time standing directly in front of the police officers who were blocking the way (and I came close to accidentally knocking one of their bikes over), which was a far cry from how I'd imagined the day. And because of all of that, I felt I had to stay for the whole thing rather than slipping quietly away after an hour or so (which is what my temple friend did).
The original plan of the protesters had been for some of them to get arrested and bring work to a halt for the day, but that didn't happen in the morning. Instead, after standing there and singing songs and listening to speeches and waving banners, we turned around at someone's decision and walked back. There was a good debrief session (as there had been a good pre-brief session beforehand), and people who wanted to continue the protest were invited back to regroup at the local UU church. That's when I finally felt like I could leave, but from my FB feed it looks as though some of the protesters did go back in the afternoon and actually get arrested.
I came home feeling like it should have been an inspiring experience and actually wasn't. I'm doubtful that these protests are going to accomplish their goal. All legal avenues have been exhausted, so they're left with trying to make the work so expensive and such bad press that the company will stop the project, but it's so far along at this point that I just don't see that happening. And the company has shown itself to be plenty happy to weather bad press in favor of a profit, and the protests don't seem like they're actually slowing the work down in any significant way.
Of course, there have probably been skeptics saying similar things about every protest ever.
I'm full of admiration for the organizers and for the folks who are showing up on a regular basis to protest, but I don't think I'll return. I'm not really a march-in-the-streets kind of person. I'm more of a call-my-elected-officials-and-donate-money kind of person. This is a good thing to remember about oneself, although I've known it for years, ever since a brief stint of marching in my early 20s.
And after I woke up from my long afternoon nap of recovering from the morning, I decided that I needed to more actively prioritize what I want to be doing with my time this summer. And that is studying Hebrew, working on the article, reading and prepping three novels that I'm teaching for the first time this year, and exercising. Plus relaxing and recovering the joie de vivre that got pretty shaky this school year. So, starting tomorrow, I'm going to make sure I have plenty of time for those things.