I hope this post doesn’t make it sound like I’m making the protest about myself. That isn’t my intention at all – obviously the protest isn’t about me. This is just how I felt yesterday on my way home.
I had another work experience placement in London yesterday. As you may know, yesterday was also the day of a planned protest against Donald Trump’s Muslim ban in the US. The protest was an extremely convenient ten minute tube journey from my office. Like many others, I despise Trump along with every single policy he’s implemented so far. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how inhumane the Muslim ban is (I hope not anyway). I was desperate to attend this protest.
I had heard there was possibly going to be another march against the Muslim ban the following Saturday during the day. However, I wasn’t convinced this protest would actually end up happening. I hadn’t seen anybody saying they were going and couldn’t find anything when I searched around the internet. I hadn’t gone to the previous Women’s March on London either due to having no time to organise going with friends (I knew my parents wouldn’t want me going alone). Admittedly I’d just started a new work placement that week, but I still mentally kicked myself for not simply making time for something I cared about so much.
The protest yesterday ended late and it was dark and I was by myself. This had caused me to put off asking my parents whether I could go or not as I had a pretty good idea what their answer would be. I held off asking my mum until half an hour before my work placement ended. Once I’d finally psyched myself up enough, I sent her a text.
Now the thing is… I know my mum very well, so I was able to predict her response almost word for word. My mum didn’t tell me I couldn’t go because apparently she couldn’t technically stop me (she probably could though to be honest). She did tell me she’d be extremely worried about me and begged me not to go. I am in no way blaming my mum for this. She said those things because she cares about me and her concerns were legitimate.
So… I didn’t go. I felt too guilty (about worrying her so much). But I felt just as guilty about not going at the same time. I was angry and upset and a nasty lump appeared in my throat at the thought that I would be doing nothing to help that night. I called my boyfriend and tried communicating to him via a series of incoherent wails. How could I be ten minutes away from the protest and not even go? Ten minutes away when others had travelled miles to get there. I had to hang up the phone as I went through to the Underground.
I got very emotional. I felt like every cell in my body was telling me to just ignore my parents’ fears and go. I felt like I was betraying everything I’d ever written about or argued against. I got on the tube and tried not to cry. I felt like a bystander and a waste of space. I was present during an awful time in modern history and all I could do was go home for dinner when people needed help. I felt like I didn’t even care at all. Why hadn’t I just gone? Why couldn’t I actually do something? Why did I care so much about worrying my parents?
After an incredibly dramatic and probably self-pitying journey, I got home to find out the protest on Saturday was actually happening after all. The protest this weekend is during the day so my boyfriend and I will be going together. My parents will be a lot less worried under these safer circumstances. I’m not entirely sure what the point of this post is to be honest… I guess I got reminded BIG-TIME of the importance of actually doing something and fighting for what you believe in. I realised how distressing it felt to be an onlooker.
To everybody who went to or supported a protest yesterday – you’re amazing, please keep fighting because we need people like you to save the future of this world from the direction it’s stuck in right now. You all give me hope.