I recently had a rare and precious chance to get a cross-section of public opinion on my act of civil dissent, while remaining largely anonymous (i.e. “that stupid cow in the red hat”). While I’m cultivating a habit to steer clear of internet comments, I waded through this particular minefield in the name of research. Said research was quite rewarding: I found that people’s criticisms usually fell into one of three categories: (1) why aren’t you at work? (2) what is this going to achieve?; and (3) why aren’t you protesting something closer to home?
It’s N3 that I want to talk about. Not the blindingly obvious reasons why I’m protesting against Trump while I’m in the UK. But the connection between protesting and home.
The very notion of home is currently very mercurial for me. I’m a thoroughly globalized Millennial snowflake, and while my passport isn’t fancy enough to let me travel just anywhere without a colonoscopy at the embassy and border visa application process, I don’t have a problem with the idea of uprooting my life and moving to a new country at the drop of a hat. (My bank account may have a problem with it, but that’s a different story.) Any bonds I have to my birth country that’s fighting tooth and nail to be in Europe, and to the soggy island that’s trying to paddle away from it, are forged of people I care about. Whether these people are the family I was born into, the family I found, or the crowds that spend weeks on the barricades at minus twenty Celsius. I sound pretentious as I say it –Millennial snowflakes are expected to – but over the past ten years I’ve become a citizen of the world without trying or noticing.
Citizen of the world, with a Ukrainian passport and a UK residence card. Instead of having one home, I could have three.
Then, one by one, each of these three homes got threatened. Ukraine made it through the revolution, only to spend every day since then fighting back a wannabe Tsar who wants his empire back. The UK, while convulsing all over, decided it’s best to kick out job-holding, tax-paying freeloaders like my husband and me. As for the world, well…
So you tell me where I’m supposed to protest.
Should I go back to Ukraine? What help I could give there I’ve been giving over the past three years, with my knowledge of English, writing skills, and donations to help soldiers. Even when the revolution was happening in the downtown, I wouldn’t have been any more useful on the field than I was at my laptop.
Should I fight for civil rights here in the UK? Conservation in the UK? Labor unions in the UK? Climate change policy in the UK? Any search for campaigning advice will tell you to “get in touch with your MP.” I don’t have an MP. I don’t have a vote in any election that takes place here. Even if the EU citizens had a vote during the Brexit referendum, I still wouldn’t have had one, because I’m from outside the EU.
So I’m left with one just battleground. The world. And make no mistake that the stakes in any protest against The Clockwork Orange in the Oval Office are on the global scale.
The good news is, this is one battleground on which I have power. Here, I don’t need the right to vote. I don’t need representation in any parliament. The requirements are simple: a brain with which to create, and a body with which to show up. I’m a human being. That’s plenty. (In fact, I’m a human being with a fucking internet connection! For this battleground, that’s, like, officer material.)
Go protest at home?
Go protest about something closer to home?
I’m a citizen of the world. I’m a citizen of this goddamn planet.
And this is why I will keep making my stand, on whichever geography, while there’s still geography left to make a stand on.
In the hope that those who have more power than I will take note. And those who have less power than I will take heart.
That Stupid Cow in the Red Hat