Thursday, June 18, 2009

Three's A Crowd


I am fascinated by the growing protests in Iran, a fairly repressive society. After the recent election people have taken to the streets, objecting to what they are convinced were rigged results. While the hundreds of thousands of protesters have moved about relatively peacefully, there have been deaths and beatings perpetrated by government forces. A Globe and Mail newspaper reporter was taken into custody and roughed up until the police realized who he was. For all the danger, there has been nothing like this in Iran since the revolution thirty years ago.

Crowds can be forces for positive change and destruction. Sunday night revellers took to the streets of Los Angeles, celebrating the NBA final victory by the Lakers. The celebration got out of hand and there were both vandalism and arrests.

Jesus doesn't strike me as a crowd guy, but he attracted large groups of people. In rural Galilee crowds followed him to hear his message, and remember the story of the miraculous picnic?

On Palm Sunday another crowd celebrated his donkey ride into Jerusalem which probably brought him to the attention of authorities. Crucifixions gathered the curious, as public executions always have.

Have you ever been involved in a large crowd? In Halifax we marched with thousands of others to protest the war in Iraq, but it was peaceful and almost festive. Have you every been scared in a crowd? Do you think public protests are effective?

7 comments:

pupil said...

Wonderland was the scariest thing that ever happened to me, believe it or not. When the boys were young we decided to stay for the light show at the end of the night. The show was spectaular but as soon as it was over the entire crowd moved at once, lifting us off our feet, threatening to disengage us from our children, and like a giant blood sucking monster squeezed us into a giant mesh. I know how tuna feels in one of those fish nets. I had one of the biggest panic attacks of my life. In a large crowd of people the individual seems to lose the ability to think common sense or exit anything single file. So the anwser is NO, I have not and will not be a part of a large demonstration. How can that be safe? Large crowds are like B-movie monsters with lots of legs.

Laura said...

Scared once as a teen at the Eaton's Centre on Boxing Day..YIKES! Should have been scared once, when we ended up in the middle of a protest march by the Basque Nationalists in a foreign land, but pre 9/11 I was just naive and uninformed to the lengths such groups might go to. Like Pupil, I'm not a fan of crowds; so as for protests, I am a guilty non-attender.I am glad that some are and do and draw attention to things I (and those who have power) would otherwise be blissfully unaware of or unfocused on that we might then respond in other ways.

Laurie said...

I started protesting at an early age with my parents and grandparents about the nuclear plant at Darlington,the airport going in around Clarmont.I have attended lots of protests, been arrested for protesting apartheid. Overnight in jail with lots of other protesters.I still go to lots of protests, have taken my son in his stroller and now he is in his twenties he is going to protests. I do believe protests work in that they get the message out. I have been scared in some protests when tear gas has been used.

Nancy said...

I have been in several large crowds, the scariest was when a rock star cancelled an appearance at the Scarborough Town Centre and the would be attendees rioted. I was trapped inside a store for an hour or so and then was told I had to exit the building. I insisted on a police escort to my car (single/female/riot). They obliged but it was a scary experience.

In another situation my husband and I took part in the demonstration that took place in Montreal to show our support for a "No Vote" in the referendum in October 1995. That was a very energizing experience. For the most part however I am not a participant of protests.

lionlamb said...

I suggest we join pupil in a small, well-spaced protest against high prices and crowds at Wonderland.

I notice that more and more people are mobilizing and protesting through cyberspace -Twitter, MySpace, etc.-- and sometimes don't even hit the streets.

Much harder to use teargas and rubber bullets through the internet.

Thanks for your responses. They were truly international.

Deborah Laforet said...

My uncle was a part of a very large crowd when he went to Washington D.C. to see Barak Obama become president (I'm drawing a blank on the name of the ceremony. I want to say coronation, haha.)

He said it was one of the most amazing experiences of his life. He couldn't see anything, but he was surrounded by people of all shapes, sizes, and colours, and found the energy of the crowd very upbeat and positive. It was the beginning of a new era and people could sense that.

I personally have never been a part of a large protest and I completely agree on the sentiments regarding amusement parks.

lionlamb said...

It's encouraging, Deb, that "brain freezes" happen in the relatively young. I think you are searching for inauguration.

I hope yesterday's ominous storms in Saskatchewan left you unscathed.