It is the time to close a chapter.
The Democratic National Convention was over like a couple of days ago. I had to admit, despite that fact that I had tried hard to avoid this year’s politics, the celebratory atmosphere that this convention brought certainly diverted my attention a little bit. Well, it was more of “ummm” experience. On one hand, I did enjoy watching the roll callings of Democratic party big shots on TV and but on the other, getting trapped in the middle of city traffics was not much of a fun. Speaking of traffic, not only police cars and motorcycles are blocking the way, protesters are too.
So on Wednesday, as a part of my internship, I went to participate (or to be precise, “spectate”) a protest organized by environmentalists from all over the places against the long, if not good, establishment of a local oil refinery. When I meant “environmentalists from all over the places”, I was serious. We had activists from Philadelphia and California, and local villagers from Guatemala, whose living environment was heavily polluted by the petro giant, Chevron. In addition, they also gathered local residents, who had concern with air pollution. Given the strong line-up, I had high expectation for the day’s work.
After several passionate and memorable speeches, we went to block the high way and later the entrance of the oil refinery. It sounded much “like cutting the arteries and veins of our capitalist society”; however, that was not much of a fantasy. It was a hot summer day, people were rushing on the highway, and we were blocking the traffic for a reason that they might not give a dime to. Especially for those oil truck drivers, who apparently were finishing their tasks to get the paychecks and now got blocked by us in the front of the refinery, the anger was so obvious. Without much thinking, you could imagine that how much they HATED us for being there. Interesting, the overall process went as civil as you could think off; nothing really happened, and we all dissipated around fifteen minutes later.
Indeed, I can write a whole account on what was going on there, but since journalists want to give their two-cents on this matter, talking about something else will be more entertaining for now. It is certainly great to see people out protesting, fine and dandy; but why do people hate us? I think people want to live in the suburb because of the need for good living condition, and we right now are indeed fighting for the better air by protesting against the oil refinery. What is wrong with them?
Maybe I can blame the system for a bit. In the capitalistic system that we all live in right now, the ultimate objective is to generate most profit, and in order to achieve that, everyone has to depend on capitalists, who ultimately control the resources, technology and capital. Small businesses rely on upstream suppliers, which are often much bigger in size; and individuals need to work hard under capitalists. Knowing this context, we can understand the reason that they dislike us. Simply because in this era, the destiny of the one percent has tied closely with the ones of the ninety-nine percent. This is why I am ambivalent about the protest in oil refinery, because good air without bread on the table is not sustainable.
Then the situation seems dire, doesn’t it? On one hand, we can know that the situation has to be changed, but on the other, we have to see that such change will bring huge realistic damage to our life. Really, where is the way? Currently, the only viable option only seems to be protesting, and then hoping for change. Nevertheless, the future should be brighter than that, because of we, young people, are here right now complaining about reality and finding solutions. We will be next generation of politicians, scientists, workers and farmers; and knowing the problem now, should we do something?
Maybe ten years later, when I have long graduated and established my place in society, I can be proud of what I have done in college. I can tell myself, “I really learn something.”