Tag

tolerance

Browsing

The true meaning of One Love Manchester

The day after a terrorist attack claimed the lives of seven people on London Bridge and in Borough Market, 60,000 people crammed into Manchester’s Old Trafford cricket ground for Ariana Grande’s One Love Manchester concert. The message: we will not be afraid and we will not be deterred.

The concert was a response to a separate incident that took place two weeks ago at Ariana Grande’s Manchester concert. After the concert was over, a suicide bomber ended up killing 22 people and injuring many more. The victims were a mixture of parents, children, and teens. For many artists, this was the ultimate tragedy. And for Grande, it was heartbreaking.

The youngest victim was eight years old.

Sunday’s benefit concert, titled One Love Manchester, was incredibly powerful. People of all ages pushed their fear aside and came together to embrace this idea of love, tolerance, and acceptance. With 60,000 people in the audience, the silence was deafening. And when they all sang in unison — even the artists on stage started to cry.

British singer and frontman for band Mumford & Sons, Marcus Mumford, kicked off the concert with a moment of silence before singing a touching rendition of his song “Timshel”. Other musicians included Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Pharrell Williams, Robbie Williams, Coldplay, and Black Eyed Peas, among many others.

Of course, Ariana Grande sang some fan-favourites, as well as duets with some of the performers. One of the most touching moments was when the Parrs Wood High School Choir sang Grande’s My Everything. The choir posted their rendition of the song to Youtube after the bombing, and was invited to perform it on stage during the benefit concert. Grande came out to sing with the 12-year-old soloist, holding her hand as she was overwhelmed with emotion.

Grande ended with an emotional “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”.

The benefit concert raised over 2.6 million euros for the victims of the Manchester bombing, with part of those funds also going towards an emergency fund set up by the city of Manchester and the British Red Cross. But, more importantly, it proved to the world the U.K. is not “reeling” from these terrorist attacks, as some in the media have claimed.

When tragedy hit, the people of Manchester and London didn’t blame a religion. They didn’t react in hate. They didn’t close their borders or put up a wall. What did they do?

They opened their hearts. They opened their minds. And they sang.

 

Thanks Trump! You just created a new age of activism.

The election of U.S. President Donald Trump has sparked anger, resentment, and hate — and people aren’t standing for it. In fact, they are doing even more. They are marching.

While 2017 is proving to be even worse than 2016, at least one good thing has sprung from it all. The continuous bigotry fuelled by American politics is bringing about a new age of activism.

As a millennial, I’ve never truly experienced the power of global activism. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve witnessed some powerful demonstrations over the last two decades. There was the Arab Spring, the lesser but effective Maple Spring and, of course, the Occupy movement. But, I’ve never seen so many people, from all walks of life — ethnicities, religious affiliations, and economic statuses — come together to condemn such a wide array of issues on a global scale.

On Feb. 4, over 5,000 people gathered in front of the United States Consulate in Toronto to protest the American immigration ban and Islamophobia. At the same time, thousands of people got together across Canada and overseas, all marching and chanting in unison: “No Muslim ban on stolen land.”

 

There were families with their children, students and seniors standing hand in hand, sharing samosas and taking photos of each other’s carefully crafted signs. When organizers asked the crowd to part so that the Muslim participants could be closer to the stage for a prayer, everyone did it. People smiled and opened their arms, leading their allies and fellow Canadians (or Canadian hopefuls) to the front, remaining silent while they prayed for those fallen in the Quebec mosque shootings a few weeks ago.

Above everything else, people were polite, inclusive, and tolerant — but also strong, powerful, and loud. It was truly something to witness.

Photo by Katherine DeClerq
Photo by Katherine DeClerq

In January, more than 60,000 people marched in Toronto  — along with millions in the United States and throughout Europe — for women’s rights and to protest the inauguration of Trump, a man who has repeatedly used sexist remarks in speeches and disregarded the rights of women on the political stage. The march may have been the biggest demonstration in U.S. history.

I know what you are thinking. These are people who are just marching because “it’s cool”, right? They won’t actually work to enact change.

Photo courtesy of Madeleine Laforest

But this new age of activism is not limited to marching. Within hours of an executive order signed by President Trump, there are over a dozen Facebook events created for smaller, more pointed demonstrations indicating their displeasure over his political actions. American citizens are calling their representatives at every level of government, telling them what they think of the cabinet confirmations or a political document that was released. When the telephone voice mailboxes are full, people start using the fax machines to reach their political offices. A few people even tried to send their representatives pizzas with notes attached to them.

For example, so many people called their Senators regarding the confirmation of Betsy DeVos, the candidate for Secretary of Education, that she almost wasn’t confirmed. Two Republications changed their votes and the Vice President had to be the tiebreaker, a first in American history.

People are fired up. Normal citizens who never would have considered becoming politically active are making signs and marching to Capitol Hill. They are listening and they are informed. For the first time in my lifetime, people actually care. And not just specific groups of people — all people.

The west has forgotten the true meaning and functionality of democracy. Politicians are supposed to fight for their constituents, not for their own self-interest. If their constituents say they want them to vote against their party, technically, they should do it. That is how representative democracy works. A politician must represent the views of their constituents.

This concept has been lost, fuelled by the complacency and ignorance of a population willing to let other people run their country. But, with the rise of this new age of activism, that can change.

The Republicans (under the leadership of Trump) are forcing citizens to reconsider their own beliefs and be more aware of what they want of their country. Without meaning too, they are inspiring real democracy, a system in which the people decide what they want their politicians to do.

All I can say is this: stay strong my fellow democratic participants! Change will not happen over night. It will be a long process, and it will take a lot of screaming, chanting, marching, and phone calls to make our politicians remember that we, the people they serve, have a voice too.

But trust me, the end game will be worth it.