Tag Archives: human rights

Active Citizenship

A quick snap of the counter-march.

“Diversity not bigotry” – A quick snap of the counter-march.

I’ve been on quite a few protests and marches, but today was my first time with a counter march. It was also the first time the police have been on ‘my side’ of the protest!

Let’s back up a bit and explain. Today is Saint George’s day, so happy Saint George’s day everyone! There’s a group called the March for England which do marches on this day every year that masquerade as a show of love for Englishness but is actually so far right it’s bordering on fascism. They say they’re ”not a racist group” but their facebook page is full of racist and homophobic remarks.

Anyway, these loons were doing a march along the seafront in my home city, and let’s just say I’ll be very surprised if they come back in a hurry. My fellow Brightonians formed a counter-march at least three times as big as the original march – complete with a nomadic disco!  Honestly there was this guy with a fake afro and sparkly shades pulling along a boom box attached to a bicycle, with people dancing along beside him.

I must say this really is the way to protest. Some of the people on the counter march were getting pretty agro and started chanting things like ”racist scum” at the marchers, which I thought was creating a bit of a bad atmosphere so I quickly moved towards the disco crew. These guys were dancing and singing the lyrics to tracks like Tragedy and Dancing Queen at the top of their voices, while waving placards and blowing whistles. Wooo! Party our way to peace, people!

As I said, I did want to oppose the march because I really disagree with their views, but shouting abuse at people (even if I don’t like them) just isn’t my thing. I thought the singing and dancing approach was much more fun. Anyway singing appropriate lyrics (go on now go, walk out the door, just turn around now because you’re not welcome anymore! etc) is more intelligent than just screaming obscenities.

Specific tactics aside, the size and enthusiasm of the opposition made me really proud of my city.

A lot of people bash protests as trouble-making or pointless. To this I will say that firstly, the majority of protesters are peaceful and it’s only a few hooligans that get angry and give the whole movement a bad name. And secondly, I really don’t think it’s pointless. Yes, governments may not change policies over night, but how is the people showing their opinions pointless? I think it’s a vital element of any democracy. There’s more to democratic citizenship than voting every few years.

I’m really not sure why anyone thought Brighton is a good place for a march like this, it’s very left-wing. It has a green MP, it’s very multi-cultural and it has the biggest gay community in the UK.

Anyway, here’s a few more pictures for you to feast on. In case you didn’t realise, the guys with the English flags and a tonne of police crowded around them are on the March for England, and the people with pink hair, dreadlocks, smiles and tattoos are the opposing side, with me and my boyfriend, although we didn’t take any pictures of ourselves.

IMG_1440

Loving the cat!

Loving the cat!

To me active citizenship means standing up and shouting about what you believe in. Usually metaphorically, but sometimes literally!

Have a lovely day everyone ~ 

Earth Charter Workshops

I wonder whether you read my post about the Earth Charter? If you have, then thanks, and if you haven’t, well it’s basically a set of principles suggested for a peaceful, just and ultimately sustainable global society. It was published in 2000 after a very lengthy and diverse collaboration that was sparked by Rio 1992. It’s an awesome document and I highly recommend reading it. Here’s a direct link. It’s not very long and isn’t written in scary legalese or anything like that.

For those readers who already know and love the work of the Earth Charter Initiative or have now read it and want to know more, then here’s some exciting news: A series of six workshops based on the Charter are scheduled for the second part of this year! They’re dated between the 10th October and the 12th December and are taking place in Clerkenwell, London, UK. The six workshops each cover a separate topic in the over-arching agenda of creating a more fair and happy  global society that lives within the capacity of our home planet – with the Earth  Charter as a set of guiding principles. The topics are as follows:

1. The work and spirit of the Earth Charter

2. Personal journeys- our unique contribution.

3. The natural built environment.

4. GAIA THEORY: ”One Planet” business, science and culture.

5. Interrelatedness, inclusion and diversity.

6. Moving to commitment, action and partnership.

Each session has a presentation by somebody with expertise and experience in the topic being covered, and there are also group discussions and exercises. Apparently the last session also has a ‘celebratory’ element to it, with the sharing of food and other fun. It all sounds very interesting and I would love to attend. Unfortunately, at  £75 or £60 earlybird style, the ticket price is not affordable for me at the moment. Especially as I’d also have to get to London. But I’m aware that it is not actually very expensive and if it was nearer to me and I wasn’t pouring 90% of my income into costs relating to my impending move, then I would probably get tickets.  The Earth Charter Initiative is amazing and I whole heartedly support everything they stand for. I’m happy and inspired that they’re holding these workshops and I hope they have a great turnout. So if you live in London and can afford it, why not go along? As well as the knowledge gained from the actual talks, it would be a fantastic way to meet like-minded people and do some networking.

Click here to buy tickets and view the dates and venue address. If you do go, be sure to tell me all about it!

Bolivia Gives Earth Rights

The South American country Bolivia is giving the Earth rights equal to those attributed to humans. Backed by politicians and environmental organisations, this radical milestone in law is set to trigger huge conservation efforts.

The indigenous culture of the country sees the planet Earth as a living entity, a deity called Pachamama – which is made up of all living things and ecosystems, not just the geological sphere. They are now reflecting that philosophy in national law. Parts of nature now have  11 rights, including the rights to exist, carry out cycles without human interruption, to clean air and water, and to be free from pollution and genetic modification.

Bolivia has a history of environmental damage caused by mining, as it is blessed with rich deposits of minerals such as tin, silver and gold. The new laws could pose dramatic financial problems for the country as they currently base a large part of their economy on the extraction and sale of these resources. With the new rights however, this activity could be liable for prosecution if it is deemed too destructive.

I’m not sure how Bolivia will deal with these issues, or indeed how they will put the laws into practise when it comes to actual trials. How can a forest be represented in court? They are certainly covering new ground here and as such are alone on the cutting edge. I hope they find ways to balance viable industry with environmental protection, and I most importantly hope the ideals behind these legal developments are upheld.