In his 1986 Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech, Elie Wiesel said that “we must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
In the wake of the 2016 election, the dangers of neutrality are clearer than ever. The good news is that protests are up and running across the country, from the Women’s March to the spontaneous airport protests in the wake of the travel ban. Now more than ever, we need to keep the momentum going and keep marching! April presents us with a new set of marches to get out to, this time with the focus set squarely on the environment.
With Trump green-lighting Keystone XL and the Dakota Access Pipeline, the pressure is on. Efforts to defund the Dakota pipeline and private investors divesting are steps in the right direction but not in any way a death sentence for the pipeline. Furthermore, Trump’s proposed budget will gut the EPA, letting pollution run wild and cutting environmental advocates off from participating at the federal level. Even if you haven’t been politically active in the environmental sphere in the past, you can’t sleep on this one. Just take a look at what the country looked like before the EPA. Polluted earth and water harm us all, there’s no passing the buck here.
Spend Earth Day at the March for Science on April 22 and then chase it with the People’s Climate March on April 29th. Both marches are taking place in Washington, DC and you can consult their websites to learn more about how to get there. If DC is too far a trek for you, there will be hundreds of satellite marches going on across the country that you can participate in. Both marches are operating stores so you can dress to impress and take home mementos from the marches. If you have to work on weekends, buying merch from the store, placing posters in your windows and advertising the marches on social media are easy ways to help the marches from your desk. That being said, the best way to help the movement is by showing up.
Social media is a start but there comes a point when you have to take it to the street. Just think about the Arab Spring–social media was critical in forming networks among protesters, creating a culture of participation and letting them broadcast to the outside world–but the true power of the movement came when the marches began. From Egypt’s Tahrir Square to Independence Square in Ukraine, and all the way back to Tiananmen Square in 1989–protests have to go public to get power. After a long week, it can feel exhausting to get up and be on your feet all day–but there are moments you can’t in good conscience miss out on just because you wanted to sleep in. Plus, protests are social events–you can take your friends, you can meet new people and you can meticulously document all the hilarious signs that will be on parade. There’s already a photography book published with the signs from the Women’s March–bring your camera and you could be next! Don’t be on the wrong side of history–march this April!