I’ve often talked about the strong influence of French culture over my delicate Australian sensibilities – usually in regards to my newfound love of wine and coffee – but today I’d like to address my Parisian politicisation.
Not that I wasn’t interested in social causes in my previous beachside life in Sydney, but I had never felt the need to attend demonstrations or vaguely protest against anything – excluding that one rally in high school, but that was more to get out of class then anything else…in fact I have no memory of what it was even for. I didn’t even really discuss politics with my peers, outside of the week or so before an election, preferring to stick to the topics that really mattered – the merits of the latest Kylie album, for instance.
Then I moved here and my slow indoctrination began. It started subtly enough with rather intense, passionate discussions over the dinner table with friends…on some occasions I feared that there may be bloodshed before desert. Of course, it was all in French and at the time I understood practically nothing but the fervour and spirited sense of debate soon became ingrained within me.
Then there are the manifs. One doesn’t even need to leave home to bear witness to stunning amount of demonstrations held about the place. I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve seen – usually peaceful – protesters in the street below my apartment making their views extremely clear.
The spirit of protest is in the air and in the blood. Indeed, the French always seem to be on strike or marching in the streets – sometimes both at the same time. Admittedly, I do find it a bit difficult to engage in the striking side of things, seeing I’m self-employed and the working conditions really are quite reasonable…just ask my furry co-workers. The placard waving protest part, however, I have down pat. Not to say I’ve become totally radicalised but I’m much more inclined to do something when an issue catches my heart. Whether that be signing petitions or joining thousands of like-minded people create traffic congestion, these days I make sure my voice is heard.
I’ve even become far more interested in politics of my homeland. Of course, the fact that the Australian Prime Minister is an international laughing stock that makes the Front National look progressive is certainly hard to ignore. Honestly, when is he going to realise that it’s 2015,not 1955! But I digress.
For my part, I tend to believe my increased interest and involvement in the goings-on of the world is a good thing. There’s no point of lamenting injustices if you aren’t prepared to do anything about it. After all, social change doesn’t just happen by itself.
What issue would get you out and challenging the status quo, dear reader?