Three words can be enough

Last week, I flew down to Washington , D.C. to participate in a protest with ten other UVM students. I learned a few things about hygiene, sleep and politics.First, deodorant is key, unless you plan on strategically raising your arms whenever cops get close. Second, it doesn’t matter that you haven’t slept in a few days because the adrenaline will carry you through.Third, protests and social movements, especially surrounding war, are inevitably complex. Let me explain.I think that people on both sides of the aisle tend to oversimplify global issues in an attempt to understand them. Much of this is to be expected. It takes time and a deeper understanding to learn the difference between the Sunni and Shiite factions – insert John McCain joke here – or to become an expert in all of the reasons – and it wasn’t just oil – the United States went to war in 2003.Most people just don’t have the time and thirst for deeper understanding, and it’s so easy to boil down an entire group of intricate ideas no one really has time to study into three or four words that people can repeat as sound bites or during protests. But I don’t see the war in Iraq, or the world for that matter, in black and white.And I was worried that standing outside the American Petroleum Institute or marching through the middle of a street usually reserved for high-powered business lunches and lobbyist functions with “Five Years: What the Fuck?” written on a sign would be a pretty black or white move.When it comes down to it, though, the protest itself is only a public demonstration of the feelings that many citizens share privately. It served to raise awareness and further discussion of the war in Iraq and global warming. In short, the simplistic nature of the chants clearly doesn’t reflect the two issues, but maybe the protest won’t stop with threeword chants.So I did it anyway. Along with ten other UVM students, I chanted until I was hoarse, blockaded a major intersection, was dragged out by police officers and grooved with hundreds of other protesters and their peacesign hands through downtown Washington, D.C.In politics, they say your vote is your voice. But sometimes that’s not enough and your voice has to be your voice.