I hate marches. Marches hate me. But I went. Because I wanted to be one of the tens of millions rallying worldwide. I wanted to attend Toronto's biggest demo since the Days of Action. I wanted to see people bubble up from all the social niches and spill out of Dundas Square. And no one would come with me to New York or Montreal.
So take it from the guy who hates marches: Saturday was amazing. After January's demo, we were left with that old activist joke in our heads, "What if everyone brought three friends next time?" Well, they did. It was staggering. I even smiled at the woman holding the sign "Middle-class home-owning taxpayer against the war." As many mohair sweaters as mohawks. A surreal day to match a surreal push for war.
And an inspiring one, judging by the happy faces. It might be something to keep in mind when our smiles fall in horror as the first salvo is fired. After that it will be harder to smile but all the more crucial that we do.
If and when war starts, we should remember that we haven't failed. The war-makers will be watching to see if we meant what we said. What we do next may determine how much latitude they have to carry out their plans -- and requires an outpouring of tactical forms. Homes Not Bombs has already brought its blockades to military headquarters and to weapons manufacturers.
What is still unblockaded, though, is the way we inadvertently bolster the machine. It works this way: if you don't drive (oil) to the mall to buy that home appliance transported (oil) from a General Electric (arms maker) factory, you're being an activist. Reflect on how the war economy intersects your life. If fear is a virus, then so is hope. And we need an epidemic.
In the meantime, though, just keep risking frostbite putting up those orange posters. By Saturday, so many had responded, if you weren't holding hands with your buddies you could lose them in a flash. We got word later that as the front reached Metro Hall, the back started to leave Dundas Square. For a second I thought I was in Montreal. (They still outnumbered us.) Then I realized I was glad not to be.
Thank you, Toronto.