by Nic Olson

Giving a shit is not easy. This is made obvious when you begin to do so. It is exhausting and abrasive. It is uncomfortably hot and smells bad. It is judged unfairly and looked upon as naive or unnecessary.

But it is necessary.

Apathy sets in quite easily when you live in comfort. When your meals are covered and you have clothes and can afford salad spinners and a fridge full of beer. Apathy is easy when you are not directly affected.

The only thing close to rioting that I ever witnessed had to do with hockey. Giving a shit about hockey is easy. You sit on your couch or in the stands and stress about something completely out of your hands. When you realize that a sports loss isn’t everything that ever mattered and that you are still breathing and the earth is still in existence, you go home and eat a nice meal and go to bed. Easy.

The peoples’ right to protest is the peoples’ right to disagree. When this is taken, so is one of the main tenets of democracy. Canada’s West often does not understand the motivations of Quebecois protesters. They are seen as the troublemakers causing unnecessary violence. Socialists spoiled with low tuition, cheap booze and thirty flavours of real poutine. They should learn to live with it, like we do, especially when our oil and potash are paying for their province’s existence. These opinions make it seem as if we have been beaten down and embarrassed enough to accept our ‘fate’ of high tuition, cuts to the arts, a resource raped land and expensive liquor, as if it is something that we had no control over. Considering the fact that post secondary education can and should be free, we have been conditioned to accept the ‘inevitability’ of incredible debt. Like a well-trained child at the supper table, we eat what we are told and we don’t ask why. When the government won’t listen to the reason of the people, we should begin to question the purpose, worth and effectiveness of such a system of leaders with nothing more than financial agendas. The people shouldn’t simply learn to live with the decisions of the lawmakers that they elected. They shouldn’t have to put up with the decisions of the ruling elite. The people are why they exist. The lawmakers need to properly represent the people.

One hundred days and half a million people. A battle for accessible education turned into a battle for equality. Students joined by the general public in their dislike of how the government has been handling the tuition debate, highlighted by an agreement in the undemocratic quality of new anti-protest bills. Breaking laws which are made to stifle the population is not an irresponsible action. Challenging those in power through protest and defiance should not be looked upon as counterproductive or disruptive, but needs to be understood as a necessary sign of democracy, thought and human progression.

The more we care about the issues that affect others more than ourselves, the more we put thought, effort, time, and support into these issues, the better humans we will be, the better cities and towns we will live in, and the better, more equal, more human world we will have. Our future greatly depends on how much we give a shit.

“Acts of resistance are moral acts. They take place because people of conscience understand the moral, rather than the practical, imperative of rebellion. They should be carried out not because they are effective, but because they are right. Those who begin these acts are always few. They are dismissed by those in the liberal class, who hide their cowardice behind their cynicism. Resistance, however marginal, affirms the sanctity of individual life in a world awash in death. It is the supreme act of faith, the highest form of spirituality.”

-Chris Hedges, Death of the Liberal Class, Chapter 6, p205

Check CUTV for coverage on the protests in Montreal.

For English translations of French articles: