life · photography · politics

Why I Rally

There are few things in life that get me more excited than a rally (think demonstration, not car racing). The collective atmosphere fills you with a sense of purpose and possibility you rarely get to experience in the world. Separate to the positive reinforcement I get as an individual, there are really good reasons to get off your backside and get out to a rally.

noun ral·ly 

a mass meeting intended to arouse group enthusiasm

Historically, rallies have been organised to successfully protest and/or highlight all kinds of issues – war, human rights, environmental issues, social change and workers rights etc, etc. The impacts of many historical rallies have been epic. The world we know today is shaped by the collective activism of the individuals of the past.

Australia was the first country in the world to legislate an 8 hour working day and this was due almost completely to the hundreds of workers who rallied for the cause in Sydney and Melbourne.

Wyalong_eight_hour_day
Eight-hour day procession by miners in Wyalong, New South Wales – late 1890s

This image (from wiki) is hard to relate today from our comfortable offices with OHS protections, sick leave, holidays – things we now call basic entitlements. The men in this photo worked in the mines. They were low paid and not only did they not have healthcare but the companies they worked for were not required to be compliant with any safety laws as they are today. They would not have been paid if they were sick, in fact, if they couldn’t come to work they would have lost their job all together. At the time they marched for an 8 hour working day, they were actually working up to 16 hours a day.

mud march
The Mud March – Suffragettes Rally in 1907 (source http://www.iusboverseas.wordpress.com)

In 1907, over 3000 English Suffragettes marched 2 kms in the rain for women’s right to vote. The rally became known as the Mud March because of the weather. It was a crucial moment in time as women from all walks of life marched together for a common cause. The march proved to law makers that women of all classes supported and demanded the right to vote and had a pivotal impact of the success of the Suffragette movement.

keystone
An estimated crowd of 35,000–50,000 gathers near the Washington Monument on February 17, 2013 to protest the Keystone XL pipeline and support action on climate change. By Jmcdaid – https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24758743

In response to rallies across the country and solidarity protests across the world, in 2015 President Obama blocked construction on the Keystone Pipeline XL. This protest happened many times in many different places and encompassed so many issues from the pipeline itself to environmental, social, financial and Indigenous. Due to the wide reaching impacts of the construction, the protests were big and loud which obviously drove their success. It’s unfortunate to think that an oaf like Trump is attempting to take away this hard fought win.

When I think of successful rallies I think of the French. From the French Revolution to the modern day anti-terrorism rallies, the French know how solidarity is done. They demand to be represented by their elected leaders rather than ruled by them and this is something that Australians would do well to understand.

19153310_401
French people rallying against IR law reform in 2016 – (c) Reuters/J.-P. Pelissier

It’s easy to roll through life with little care about what goes on behind the political curtain. Unfortunately if you leave the job of decision making to the megalomaniacs who infest governments, misery ensues for the majority of the population. See also: USA.

It’s easy enough to do nothing and focus on the day to day. It’s easy to ignore what happens to the less fortunate, or even what’s happening to you if it means not having to actually do something. It’s easy to make do and get on with things. It’s so easy to have a whinge and then sit back down to watch some X-Factor.

This is why I rally.

It’s difficult to believe that you can do something. It’s nearly impossible to think that one person can make a difference. But even a sea of people is only made up of single individuals. This is why rallies are so powerful and have such an impact. In this day and age where activism is reduced to a click of the mouse, actually getting out and doing is so important. Democracy is important.

This is why I rally.

I have attended rallies in support of refugees, animals, labour laws and marriage equality. I have attended rallies against racism, fascism and political oppression. I have been proud and empowered and I have also been disappointed when the result has not gone in my favour. But democracy is important to me.

This is why I rally.

I am a citizen of the world and I have opinions. I have the ability to educate myself, I can have open discussions and can believe in a cause. I have emotions and empathy and a conscience.

This is why I rally.

Do you rally?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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