To: Fellow Parents of Anti-Globalization Activists:
My son was very involved in the Quebec City action. He had my love, support and respect. However, I was very anxious about his well being during the action. The independent media reports of brutal police behavior towards the protesters had me very worried about his safety. I know that other parents must have been anxious as well.
There are several things which have helped me to cope with the anxiety induced by this situation. I wanted to share these ideas and also suggest we develop a space for mutual aid and self help during upcoming actions.
1. Have a contact/communication plan with your son or daughter. Email and/or phone calls and messages on a daily basis if possible can provide some reassurance. Understand however that protesters do not always have access to phones. Finding out the names and phone numbers or email addresses of parents in your child's affinity group is another possibility. A phone tree can
be set up or an email forwarding list allows each parent to update the other parents.
2. Your child can request that the legal support team contact you if they are arrested. If they are arrested they can use their one phone call to contact the legal support folks who will then contact you and anyone else requested.
3. Educate yourself, family members, friends, neighbors and colleagues about the issues being protested. The discrepency between mass media reports and independent media accounts is considerable. We can share information within our own networks, raise consciousness and show solidarity for the cause. We can give interviews to local newspaper, radio and TV reporters.
4. Organize local acts of solidarity in conjunction with the action. Hold a press conference, a rally, join a peace vigil. Use the internet to connect with others who have mutual concerns, contact the local peace and justice group.
5. Plan on attending an action with your son or daughter. If you are not interested in direct action or confrontation with police then attend the teach-ins, parades, marches, puppet shows. During the Vietnam War, it was when regular people, housewives, truckers, teachers and grandparents began attending anti-war rallies that LBJ started listening to our opposition to an unjust, unpopular war. When enough voting, purchasing, working people begin protesting the massive transnational corporate takeover of democracy, perhaps we will be heard.
6. You may not agree with your child's politics or with their methods of political expression. However, your children care enough about our world and our future to speak out against what they believe to be wrong. I encourage you to take pride in their independent thinking, their courage and their willingness to become involved, even if it seems like David vs. Goliath. Young people have an extraordinary belief in their own power and in the righteousness of their causes. It is that impulse which drives them to speak out against global economic injustice.
7. Anxiety about our children being physically harmed or mentally traumatized as a result of political protest is very real and very painful. We love our children, would risk our lives to protect them and cannot tolerate the idea of their being hurt, no matter what the cause. You may have trouble sleeping, eating, concentrating. You may feel panicked or depressed. These are normal, healthy reactions to threats to our children's well being. In this particular situation, we have even less control than normal. We also have an information gap. Therefore, it is important for your own sanity to get support, talk with other parents, friends and family. Talking does help, letting others know what you are worried about helps, these are deep human needs.
8. Be sure to attend to your own health and well being - sleeping, eating, excercising, healthful diversions, all of these self-care strategies enhance coping. Prayer is also a way of coping and receiving strength, asking others to send supportive energy to your child or include them in your prayers is a helpful response when it feels like there is nothing you can do.
9. My own child's participation in these actions radicalized him and he was already quite politically radical. I found myself re-examining my own political beliefs, committments and compromises. I have been re-radicalized by my son's activism and I am appalled by the arrogance and ruthlessness of the power elite.
10. Please add your comments, experiences and suggestions. These are just my collected thoughts from the Quebec City action, neither exhaustive nor comprehensive. It took a week after my kid arrived safely back home for me to be able to sleep easily again. Next time I'll be there with him.
Write to Helene via the Planting Seeds Community Awareness Project