A couple of years ago a Finnish friend of mine asked whether I was planning to join the Occupy Wall Street movement. I told him that I didn’t want to physically take part in demonstrations, as I was not yet an American citizen (albeit very close to becoming one). I didn’t want to risk getting in the middle of something that would jeopardize my chances of applying for citizenship. But in all honesty, I wasn’t sure whether I would ever even be interested in participating in a demonstration. Beyond my internet-activism, it simply wasn’t part of my MO at the time. This last week is a particularly potent example of how that MO has changed.
Having been an American citizen for about a year, I am actually surprised as to how much I have become interested in the world of politics. Last week I traveled to Washington DC for the third time with my friends Blake Morgan and Tommy Merrill to advocate for artists’ rights. We are now at a point with the I Respect Music movement, where we’re beginning to know some people in key positions in congressional offices, and feel comfortable speaking quite frankly with them. It has been fascinating to see a glimpse of how legislature works in this country, and to meet some of the people who are making decisions on our behalf. Perhaps surprisingly, it has actually been more heartening than not. What’s more, the concept of government is no longer an intangible abstraction to me, it is present in my life. I feel it is my responsibility as a citizen to participate, and to get my voice heard.
Yesterday, I helped a friend set up an event celebrating and spreading awareness about Just Vision, an organization that “highlights the power and potential of Palestinians and Israelis working to end the occupation and build a future of freedom, dignity, equality, and human security using nonviolent means.” I felt privileged to get an opportunity help out, to witness, and be part of an exclusive event like this. This was a small gathering of energetic and highly intelligent women, who are fighting for change in a number of areas, not only regarding Palestine and Israel. I was simply listening and absorbing most of the night, trying to learn what I could about a number of topics that I’m largely ignorant about. The human condition is interesting in that I can relate to these issues, however seemingly far removed I am from some of them. My life and my past experiences inform me on an emotional level, and I care, and empathize. It has been quite extraordinary to realize that as I have opened up to myself, I have opened up to the world.
Being conscious and conscientious makes me feel like I’m alive. Knowing that I wasn’t always this way makes me that much more grateful that I am so now. So at the risk of sounding like I’m all over the place, I share with you that this weekend I will finally be joining my first actual demonstration! No more excuses..! On Sunday I will proudly join The People’s Climate March in NYC. However passionate I may be about other subjects, this is the single issue that encompasses them all. To all my friends here in New York–see you there! And for the rest of you, I hope you will join me in spirit..!