You know who knows how to throw a peaceful protest? South Koreans.
During my few years there, I saw city streets eight lanes across fill with men, women and children protesting everything from minutia of a government decision to the treatment of the Second World War’s comfort women.
In more recent months they’ve been at it again. Nearly 800,000 peacefully joined forces in November to take part in the largest ongoing series of demonstrations in South Korea since the 1987 movement to democratize.
I wish I could have seen it. I’d trade every assignment I’ve been sent to cover in Kelowna where six to 60 people —including reporters—gather outside city hall or an MLA/MPs office for a perfectly reasonable cause that everyone else claims outrage for on Facebook, but stays home when the placards come out.
In contrast, protests like the South Koreans hold give the impression that each body moving toward a common goal can make a difference.
There are other countries that do things like this well, too.
Women in the US, for example, are gearing up for a protest one week from now, and if the Facebook page in its name is any indication, it too will see hundreds of thousands converge Jan. 21 for the Women’s March on Washington.
The movement wasn’t ignited by any national organization, rather it was born from individual outrage at the politics of president elect Donald Trump.
As time and momentum have built it’s been described as less of an “anti Trump” protest and more of a stand for rights of those who felt disenfranchised by the last election.
“This event welcomes anyone and everyone who supports women’s rights, equal rights, human rights, social and economic justice, and non-discrimination,” reads the statement from the organizers of the local branch.
“Violation of these rights, especially those of women, whether through words, actions or policies and victimization of women, immigrants, people of colour or different sexual persuasions will not be condoned.”
Some critics of the march have said the mission statement makes for an awkward battle cry, but I disagree.
Women working together to say they value an inclusive community is inspiring.
I hope it’s inspiring to others as well and that Okanagan women also brave the winter next week and make a show of solidarity with those who are marching on Washington.
While the battle cry may be disorganized, I’ve learned from my brief time in South Korea there are moments where standing up can be powerful. This might be one of them.
The local gathering is at the Sails in Kelowna on Saturday, Jan. 21 at 10 a.m.