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The tension between solidarity and survival

I’m thinking today about those who march. In the streets. Every day. About those who raise their voices for what is right. About those who face opposition and keep marching.

I’m thinking first about Lebanon. Protests have been ongoing for three months. Three months on the streets. Three months to demand change that will benefit everyone. Demanding government accountability. Demanding justice. Demanding rights too long denied. And now these demands are being met – with violence.

But not only Lebanon. Look at the rest of the region. The world. The Women’s March. A sea of pink hats. Mass movements of solidarity. It’s inspiring. And contagious.

People rise up, organically, in the face of injustice. It takes a lot of accumulated injustice – micro-injustices – to collectively piss us off. Injustice and inequality aren’t instant events – they’ve been brewing forever, simmering slowly, one little bubble at a time. They live in the small things – tiny, barely noticeable changes – and they snowball into discriminatory laws and policies, social exclusion, restrictions on freedom and mobility. We’ve seen it all before. And each time we act surprised and wonder how it got this bad.

But then… poof! We wake up. And we are MAD. So we hit the streets. Martin Luther King once said “The time is always right to do what’s right”. And so we do what’s right by peacefully advocating for positive change. I kinda wish we saw it sooner.

But anyway, at what point does it go on too long? At what point do we start paying a price for our own protest. Yes, there’s a sense of duty. We gotta stick it out until we succeed. Every person matters. And every person has the power to make change. But there’s also a ruthless reality – after all, we gotta eat.

How do you sustain a movement built on principle when – in practice – it is at your own expense?

Full time activism is a luxury too few can afford.

At some point, many are compelled to abandon their sense of duty for the greater good simply to feed their families. Basic needs and stuff. And – hungry people are angry people. Understandably.

As I watch waves of protest continue, week after week, I wonder at what point it becomes a class issue. Will this risk becoming a middle class movement – since those are the ones who still have a cushion to protect them? Those with most to lose have already lost. And have gone back to their daily lives – and the struggle for their own survival.

There’s an Africa proverb: When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.

And in the Arab region, elephants don’t stop fighting.

#Lebanon #conflict #revolution #protest #thawra #Violence #womensmarch #WPS

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