I have a bit of a dilemma each time I take my canvas bags out of my trunk to bring into the grocery store.
I have a nice denim Green Party bag, which I really like, but I worry about whether or not I should take this bag into the store with me. If I do take it, I usually make sure it's stuffed inside the other, less politically inclined, canvas bags. When I take the bags out at the checkout, I will usually try to put the Green Party bag with its sunflower symbol facing down.
The bravest I've been with "the bag" so far was this weekend, when I went with my neice to what I fondly call the "hippie store" -- the Earth's General Store on Edmonton's Whyte Avenue. I was relatively sure that the bag wouldn't garner any strange looks in that store and in that area of town, but at the Safeway or the Sobey's store I'm less convinced. It also helped that my niece was carrying a BullFrog Power bag around with her at the same time.
Which brings me to my point: I am afraid to look weird. Even though I talk jokingly about being weird and not caring about if people think I am weird, I do care.
The next point is, why should I feel afraid to carry a Green Party denim bag around? I do live in uber-conservative Alberta, yes, but my area of the province is relatively liberal, for Alberta that is. And the Green Party actually does reasonably well around here in elections these days, garnering about 5- 11% of the popular vote, neck-and-neck with the NDP.
But I guess this is what being a minority feels like: always being a little bit afraid. I know that in this country and in this province I have the right to my political and other beliefs, but what I don't know is if I will be subject to ridicule, derision or dismissal if I say something about them. And while I know I shouldn't let that stop me, it does sometimes. I rant and rave around 'safe' audiences like my family, but I'm fairly chicken once I get outside those boundaries.
What would happen if all the people like me who were a little bit afraid said something anyway? What if instead of just not putting up a Conservative sign on the lawn in the next election, we took the plunge and put up a Green Party (or other party of your choice) sign? What would happen if all of us polite, non-controversial middle class people decided to let our opinions be known? That we are tired of being seen as consumers instead of people, as grist for the economic mill instead of stewards of the earth. As billboards for products instead of people who care about each other. As test subjects for big oil and big pharma instead of human beings with minds of our own.
I hope I can get up the courage to do my part towards finding out.
Editor's Column: As Published in Norwich Gazette (5)
15 hours ago