At first glance, “protect” may not sound like much. It might seem patronizing or mundane–a parent holding the hand of a child. Perhaps it calls up unfortunate images of police (”protect and serve”?) or the Mob (”buy some protection and keep your kneecaps healthy…). Or even disguised oppression: “don’t worry your pretty little head–I’ll protect you.”
But consider this: activists, the worldwide group of first responders in the face of injustice at all levels, of fighters for a just, safe, compassionate world for all its beings, face a daunting set of occupational hazards: verbal and physical attack, firing, shunning, jail, disappearance, eviction, repression, murder. Plus less visible but no less dangerous risks: burnout, isolation, poor health, stereotyping, surveillance. And more.
I think of protection as the array of actions from soft embrace to hard-edged defense that families, friends, communities, colleagues and comrades deploy to ensure the safety and survival of their beloveds. Protection encompasses countless actions and attitudes, large and small, baked into our days, often without our awareness, that we take simply as part of being connected to our people. Again, without necessarily noting it, we evolve the kinds of protection we provide and exchange as needs and vulnerabilities change—e.g., as a baby becomes a toddler, an elder becomes more frail, a comrade becomes more visible and hence more vulnerable to attack.
Protection might be thought of as the bottom line of love. Love in activist culture can be complex, but protection is straightforward. No matter our differences and debates, it is pretty simple to see the need to keep fellow activists safe as they face all kinds of risks and dangers to make the world better.
We have a lot of experience to share in our community regarding how we protect ourselves and one another as we do our activist work. Exploring this experience can help us become better protectors of our community, culture and activist FRCCs, so they can continue and grow their indispensable work for the protection and survival of our planet.
Many differences, details and nuances arise as you delve into what protect means, as can be seen in the surprisingly long and still growing list below of meanings associated with the term “protect.” Meriting, I hope you agree, further scrutiny.
On the other side, The Beast and its minions are all about protecting themselves and their unjust, cruel and irrational system. Weapons of all kinds, military bases, walls, police, armies, vehicles, ordinance, death dealing vehicles on land, sea and air, enormous installations worldwide, equipment, infrastructure, communications.
Offices, buildings, bureaucrats, receptionists, administrators, laws, rules, legislators, resources, institutions, hierarchies, customs. Surveillance, infiltration, tracking. Alarms, cameras, tracking. And much more.
Plus media and cultural armor of all kinds: entertainment, inventions, evasions, stories, myths, stereotypes, clichés, and lies to cover up, excuse, justify and beautify colonization, exploitation, oppression, repression, massacre, genocide.
Fear, intimidation, division, deceit, ostracism, cooptation, corruption, secrecy.
They have the strongest protection money can buy. They will go to any lengths, any lengths, to protect their power and privilege. This terrible reality, which we all wish were not so, is impossible to exaggerate: we must expect the Beast and its upholders to stop nothing: geneocide, planetary destruction, nuclear anhilation.
How can we protect ourselves and fight against against all that??
Sorry, no ready-made answers here! That’s why we’re on a Quest to find out.
Yes, to see how activists are protecting our own…
…and how we can do better.
Okay, let’s start with what we mean by “protect.”
♥ Keep safe
♥ Keep secure
♥ Look after
♥ Care for
♥ Watch over
♥ Stick up for
♥ Provide cover for
♥ Give sanctuary to
♥ Take under your wing
♥ Stand guard over
♥ Hold on to
♥ Remain with
♥ Stand by
♥ Stand shoulder to shoulder with
♥ Stand up for
♥ Stand in solidarity with
♥ Look out for
♥ Keep in mind
♥ Prevent danger to
♥ Intervene during attacks on
♥ Intervene on behalf of
♥ Ward off danger to
♥ Encourage safe behavior in
♥ Prevent unsafe behavior of
♥ Prevent unsafe behavior toward
♥ Prevent disrespect and cruelty toward
♥ Welcome into one’s community
♥ En-courage (imbue with courage)
♥ Interrupt colonizer and/or colonized behavior of
♥ Encourage protective behavior and thinking in
♥ Hold in the light
♥ Think good thoughts about
ask questions on behalf of (as in, why is putting people who work against injustice in jail a good idea? (or something along those lines)
♥ Counterattack attackers of
♥ Hold in the light
♥ Connect with
♥ Prevent forgetting of
♥ Think about
♥ See for who they are
♥ Represent accurately
♥ Depict fully and fairly
♥ See as equals
♥ Refrain from judging
♥ Allow to be free
♥ Fully value
♥ Love = default setting in attitude toward
♥ Go to bat for
♥ Pull out of the path of danger
♥ Prop up in times of weakness
♥ Treat with grace, forbearance, kindness, compassion, forgiveness,
♥ Stand behind and look seriously intimidating when threats come at
Contribute to our understanding of protecting activists and its role in our culture by sharing…
…your meaning(s) of “protect,” to add to our list.
…a story (experience you are directly familiar with) showing the need to protect activists.
Share any reflections about protecting activists that come to mind.
…an example of successful protection of activists.
…an example of protection that was absent, incomplete or failed.