Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Day 6 - Blockades

Blistering heat in the sun. Freezing cold in the shade. Bolivia's existence within these two polarizing realities of everyday life in the Altiplano, reflects how people push their way through a challenging reality. Blockades come up as fast as they are taken down. Each day, everything comes to a halt at 12:30pm. People stop what they're doing. Whether its civil war between local cops and military police shooting at each other for days in downtown La Paz, bringing a prisoner to justice or just building a house. People stop so they can eat. An essential part of Bolivian life, which most North American's see as a luxury, stopping everything in order to eat dinner here in Bolivia is not perceived as a privilege but a right.
It seems like the recent protests that have hit home in Montreal, Chile and in Bolivia, everyone is fighting for something similar but with highly contrasting economic realities. What they do share in common is a group of people trying to push back. Pushing back so that their ideals and rights are kept alive and not buried with them. Looking back on my early twenties, I was always first in line to join a major protest in Toronto. Today, I see myself on the outside with my head down trying to push in a different way. Going into the streets use to give me an integral sense of strength and unity, knowing that I wasn't alone enhanced my thirst to make a difference. Today, being alone gives me that same sense of strength and unity that I once felt chanting and screaming at Queen's Park. Being alone scares me and doing what I fear most pushes me to lean forward instead of falling backwards.
Although pushing too hard can be dangerous and damaging within these movements, this doesn't include everyone who is a full time activist. Throughout the years I've often read interviews, articles and have seen documentaries where the activist leader is loved and respected by their community but not in their home. The leader in these cases believes in "the cause" to such an extreme that they forget what is happening, literally, in their own back yard. They neglect their domestic life in order to fight for the bigger cause. I guess today I try to invert that same way of life and try to focus on myself and the people in my own back yard. So that I can be a better person. Could I do both? Probably not. The energy I expend in order to evolve often leaves me scared and exhausted, unable to put strength else where.

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