|Photo by Byron Robb|
Gloria Steinem is reputed to have said “One day an army of gray-haired women may quietly take over the Earth!” Well, count me in. I figure gray-haired women are the best chance the Earth has these days.
So I attended a Save Our Shores event that brought together a number of groups concerned about the transport of coal, crude oil and diluted bitumen through our waters. Guess who the vast majority of the audience were? You're right - gray-haired women. And a First Nations chief, Doug White, who spoke so articulately and intelligently about the dangers of allowing coal and bitumen to be transported through our province that I was ready to vote for him to be our next premier. (Unfortunately he's not running.)
But that event was more or less what I expected. What I didn't expect was that I would find myself down in the Village on a blustery Sunday gathering signatures for a petition to decriminalize marijuana. Not exactly gray-haired lady territory, or so one might think. Let me backtrack a bit. A couple of weeks ago I dropped by my neighbour's house and found her enlisting to canvass for Sensible BC. As I was all energized from the recent Save Our Shores meeting, I didn't think for a minute before saying, "Oh, I'll do that too." Not that I'm a pothead, but ..... why do I even feel I need to say that? Recognise that one of B.C.'s main industries is growing pot and the best thing to do is get organized crime out of it. Focus on that and don't ruin the life of a person with a half ounce in their glove compartment.
So there I am, a gray-haired lady, standing in front of the grocery store with Barb, another gray-haired lady, our clipboards in hand. We got over a hundred signatures in less than three hours, and only two people said they didn't want to sign. I was amazed at the wide, wide range of people who stood patiently for their turn to sign. There were the expected gaggles of college students, but there were also business people, librarians, tradesmen, seniors on three-wheeled bikes, and yes, lots of gray-haired women.
This particular campaign has no big political machine behind it, and, to be perfectly honest, it may be difficult to get the required number of signatures in the short time remaining. And, of all the pressing issues that need addressing in this world, is legalizing marijuana really the most important? I don't think so, but it is important for me, and perhaps many other first-time canvassers, because I am exercising my agency as a citizen, something I don't feel particularly recognised as in the current political vocabulary. Conservative politicians have managed to get the terms "taxpayers" and "hard-working families" to the front of the line when talking about the people who voted for them.
I have a low enough income that I don't pay much in terms of taxes. I don't have children (ie. up and coming taxpayers) and I don't work at a wage-paying job. I'm not part of the "system", but that doesn't mean that the future of my country isn't important to me, or that my voice doesn't deserve to be heard. I am still a citizen, last time I checked my passport. This Sensible BC stuff is just a toe in the water - who knows what's next?!