As I have felt the rising call of political activism in my life, I’ve been contemplating how protest can also be a peaceful practice. I’ve been to a few lately, feeling a duty to help represent the voices of some of my faraway friends who don’t live so close to the capital. Taking an action, and getting involved helps balance the unpleasant physical response I’ve been feeling. Bitching about it on facebook is not so restorative.
I can’t assume these leaders know how I feel. Voting alone isn’t enough. So I’ve taken to writing postcards to some elected officials. I don’t imagine they will actually read my postcards and letters, but hopefully someone will and my voice will be added into their tallies for and against the issue at hand.
Sign-making forces you to hone in on your motivating force or the source of your ire. Succinct messages. Signs with too many words are hard to read. Big signs are hard to carry all day. My first sign said “I am Muslim.” On the back “One Human Family.” Brainstorming sign ideas with friends sharpens this focus, steering our words back to positive phrasing so that our raw anger doesn’t obscure our message.
Whether I’m making my signs, writing my postcards, or marching in a protest, I try to apply my principles of mindfulness – being present in the moment I am in: focusing on my message, the ink on my paper, the legibility of my lettering -taking a deliberate deep breath, feeling the strength of a shout, the cold air on my face, the ache of resistance in my shoulders and legs the next day.
And at the marches and our sign-making and letter-writing parties, I look at the faces of my compatriots. Their companionship encourages my resolve. I collaborate with others who support peaceful protest.