The immortal words of Bob Marley: Get Up Stand Up, Stand Up for Your Rights. Get Up stand up, Don’t give up the fight. Or even the words of Twisted Sister I first heard thanks to the DH when I was about 7 or 8 years old: We’re not going to take it any more! These words have been ringing in my ears this past week: taking a stand is often hard to do BUT when you’re pushed to the edge – the other guy better watch out.This past week I’ve seen instances of people standing up, not giving up the fight, sticking it to the man.
At the macro level, yesterday, December 15th was Global Outrage Day – protests against the Supreme Court that overturned the Delhi High Court’s ruling on Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code decriminalising homosexuality. Protests are on in 18 cities: Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Calcutta, Chennai, Hyderabad, Sydney, New York, Boston, London, Sydney, Toronto, Ann Arbor, Johannesburg, Washington DC, Richmond and Berlin.
Berlin is particularly significant to me because my sister has a vital hand in organising the demonstration along with a host of her contacts. They’ve mobilised a gay MP of the LEft, Klaus Lederer to register the march with the authorities and attend it – which is huge political backing. The idea is to shame the Indian Supreme court’s stand against the LGBT community. But it’s not just the LGBTs that are affected by this – it’s everybody. Going back on 377 is an affront to human rights. I’m incredibly proud of my sister for standing up to hegemonic powers. I remember feeling part of something much larger than myself while marching in London on February 15th, 2003 (the largest public demonstration in British history) (organised by Stop the War Coalition), against bombing Iraq – in My Name said the banners, they bombed Iraq anyway
By denying the LGBT community fundamental rights and ignoring Articles 21, 14 and 15, their bizarre definitions of ‘carnal’ and worst of all stating that because the LGBT community is a miniscule minority their fundamental rights are not as important – in a country of 1 billion, this minuscule accounts for many millions – the actions and words of the Supreme Court seems batty. There are many small tribal groups and caste minorities – should their fundamental rights also be curtailed? The smaller the community, the more vulnerable they are. The judgement also says that penile non-vaginal sex is a crime – that applies to heterosexuals too! The Supreme Court, once a trusted watchdog has now lost favour with many – how can we go back to trusting the Supreme Court? In the words of a great man who spent a third of his life incarcerated and his entire life fighting for human rights and was buried on Dec 15th, ‘To deny people their human rights, is to challenge their very humanity.’ (Nelson Mandela)
At the meso level, I recently had a small protest of my own where I was forced to take (verbal) action against a sluggish management. I made a decision when I left London that I will work to live not live to work. Since getting married, work-life balance has been a central mantra. But a lot of us put in more hours than we are paid for because we want to do a good job. If I put my name to something, I want it to be something I can be proud of. I stood up to an outrageous expectation that my dues be withheld until management decided how to work out their own managerial processes to reimburse me for the extra work I’ve taken on. And I made my displeasure known. In this world, if you are confident of your worth, the work you’ve put in, and that your position is justified then being a door mat or expected to be one is ridiculous. You must stand up for yourself.
At the micro level, my dear friend (and reader of this blog) is battling breast cancer and I’m delighted to say she’s winning! Small victories win the war: she’s done with chemo, she’s almost done with radiation, her hair is growing back in little tufts, she’s got more energy to exercise and cycle along the beach, her spirits are up. Never once has she let the cancer take over her spirit. Maybe she’s had personal moments of despair but I doubt they lasted long. She’s the ‘get up and go’ kind of person and she’s standing up to the cancer (and her family have been an amazing strength as well); along with the cocktail of drugs they’ve pumped in to her, causing her skin to crawl and taste buds to deceive her, she’s added her own brand of ‘positive attitude juice’ and that’s what’s truly winning the war.
All over the world people are standing up for themselves and others are being trod upon by a lover, a friend, a relative, a disease, an employer, or the ‘system’. I’m not saying that we must be adversarial all the time; diplomacy first and when that doesn’t work, speak your true mind – never apologise for standing up for yourself. You will get nowhere in life if you don’t know who you are, what you believe in, what kind of person you strive to be and at what point you’re just not going to take it any more!
Power to the people – power to you.