...I'm okay with being REALITY-based.

Thursday, March 20, 2003
      ( 3:49 PM )
Fly, Fleance, Fly!
(obscure Macbeth quote of the day)

I have only a little time left in my work day and am taking a break to express my utter and complete frustration with what is going on around me at the Firm today:

(a little background, as in most cities today, protests are being organized at 4pm/5pm because it's the day after the war started - thus, one is going to take place here in Portland. At around 3pm, people started packing up. At 3:30 - it was like a mass evacuation of the building, I kid you not.)

(1) people are fleeing the Firm early because the "Safety Committee" decided that because of the protests in downtown Portland, people might not be able to get out of town. Thus people are running for the doors - of course all of them leaving at the same time will create the same phenomena (traffic jams) that a bunch of protesters blocking an intersection might have created - but why think that far ahead?

(2) people are leaving not because they want to take advantage of the chance to just quite work early - no, they are actually dismayed and frightened by the idea of hundreds of people gathering in the streets around them.

(3) All I have heard all day long is ridicule of people conducting non-violent protests. The first time it happened (someone mocked students walking out of classes and said "what idiots - what does that accomplish?"), I actually tried to subtly indicate that people do what they can to express what they believe..etc, etc, and that's cool, but I quickly realized this was not a position that was going to be widely accepted in the Firm.

(4) one of the members of the "Safety Committee" walked by saying that someone had just passed a bunch of protesters and (I quote) "they punched him in the nose for no reason - an innocent guy!" Feeling this could possibly be an outrageous rumor, I commented "perhaps some unruly folks got into an altercation, but I doubt all the protesters punched the guy in the nose for no reason." The quick comeback was "frankly, I think it probably was most of them in on it - they probably told the person to punch the guy. They're all like that." (again, I quote).

(5) the prevailing comments elsewhere around the firm generally fall into the following categories:
"yikes, those evil protesters are scary!"
"seems like the police have their act together this time - thank goodnes!"
"those damned protesters - my commute is going to be hell!"
"for god sakes, what are they still protesting about - the war started already - what's the point?"
"whoever thinks it makes a difference to protest is stupid."
"as far as I'm concerned gathering like that and yelling is violent."
etc., etc., etc.

It reminds me of WTO. While we were out there peacefully participating in nonviolent action - and then being pepper-sprayed and fired at with rubber bullets and stampeded by horse cops, people were pissed off because they couldn't get their holiday shopping done. I would like to now pat myself on the back for resisting the urge to stand up in my little cubicle and yell "you're all a bunch of freaking ambivalent bastards and if you gave one damn about participating in making your community and world better, you'd be out there yourselves!!" whew. Okay, done venting. Going out to support the troops - both the ones in uniform in the persian gulf and the ones in the streets of portland tonight.

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