The hallowed chairs stood empty now, hollow, a testament to what? I wondered. Futility? Bravery? Youth? We’d thought we could make a difference: The age-old story of David standing up to Goliath, of ideals colliding with the-way-it-really-is-and-will-always-be.
The older generations wring their hands and tsk their tongues at the younger ones, a relationship as old as time, and complain that we’ve got no drive, no purpose, no sense of the greater good. They forget that the world sucks it out of you–that what starts as a lover’s embrace turns into a sinking of teeth into your neck. The powerful drain your energy, your excitement and your ideas for their own use. The machine of capitalism moves forever forward with the blood of the wide-eyed and naive as its fuel.
We’d made a stand that day, in this place, with the sea wind at our back. It had seemed that the wind was supporting us, holding us upright, helping us stand tall when our knees might have buckled and our defiance might have faltered. We never even considered sitting; not even once. Chained to the back of the benches, fifty of us made a human wall, stretched across the sea front. No yelling, no fist shaking, no movement at all. I still marvel at the powerful stillness that we had created in our collective, unfailing certainty that we could prevail.
To the side, a crowd had gathered. Curious onlookers, unsure of which side to take. The peaceful protestors and the powerful oil company, planning to drill in their small section of the sea. Had they joined us, all might not have been lost. Instead, they held their breath and waited to side with the winner–sheep not understanding the difference between the sheepdog and the wolf.
The day, like so many before it and so many yet to come, had turned violent. And so much more had been broken that day than mere arms. Bones would eventually mend, but spirits–well, spirits sometimes remain broken. I had aged faster in that single hour than in all of the hours of my youth together.
I ran my hand lightly over the back of the nearest bench and sighed. I could do nothing now but turn and walk away, never once looking at my once-beloved sea.
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