The protests in Greece, the Occupy movement and the Prime Ministerial shoe incident got me thinking about the global financial system, austerity measures, indigenous rights, footwear design and buff bodyguards, But these gatherings also got me thinking about what inspires people to come together in protest. Sure, I’ve always been happy to hand wring amongst friends and have a whinge, but until having kids, I’d never bothered vacating the couch to have my voice heard outside my lounge room.
Kids do that for their parents. They give us grief and backchat but they also give us clarity. They give us a reason to take the time to think deeply about what we actually stand for. And who we stand with. But even so, I’d never joined a protest.
Our turning point came when coal seam gas started popping up (and popping off!) left, right and centre. We were forced to shift from an anxious state about the quality of future water supplies to an activist state in a short space of time. But having never been to a protest in my adult life, I was a rank amateur. How does one protest after all? And how does one protest with kids? Here are my top nine tips (the tenth is still at the picket line):
1.Decide what your family stands for
2. Pick a protest where it’s unlikely your kids will be the meat in a riot police/hooded hooligan sandwich
3. Get your tools ready: Cardboard. Big fat Texta. A stick. Gaffer tape.
4. In the days leading up to the protest, don’t let the kids watch CNN (or they’ll be expecting to get tear-gassed, shot and run over by a tank)
5.When you sign your kid out of school for the protest and the teacher asks “Will she/he be back today”, reply: “Not if we get arrested”.
6. Soak up the feeling of being a part of a community that cares
7. Get your big girl voice on
8. Smile at everyone but the baddies
9.After the protest, explain to the kids they don’t need to use placards at home when they want to protest cleaning their room (or they will!).
If we show our kids that we can not only have a say about things that matter but also DO things that matter – we’re one step closer to creating a better world for all. You don’t even have to join an organised demonstration, you can start your own!
Is there anything you feel strongly enough about right now that you’d be prepared to stand up for in public?
Anna M. Campbell is a sustainable living educator and public speaker. She also writes books like Honeycomb Kids: Big picture parenting for a changing world…and to change the world!