Joining Debate, not going to WTO protest, and being a Quaker

I’m joining the debate team here, I’m pretty excited. I’ve got a cool freshman named Peter Holm as my partner, who lives in my room from last year on Mertz 1st South. We have some really cool ideas for cases, I can’t wait to try them out. He’s going to be a tough debater and a good partner I think.
The practice novice tournament is this Saturday, so I’m going to have to say definitely no to the people who want me to go to the WTO protest in NYC. It’s not clear to me that I ought to go to protests in general anyway, more specifically a WTO protest. I haven’t done enough research into it to be worried about the issue yet. And I question protesting as a strategy.
It seems to me that putting people in the streets is not an effective method of social change until most of the people in the area want to join you. Putting people in the streets has accomplished things in the past, but first the majority of people must agree with your cause. Fringe groups protesting have little effect, and the mainstream will generally brand protesters as useless radicals and ignore them. I think that going out and starting some sort of project to further your cause is much more productive than parading around with signs and complaining.
Then again, if there are no visible critics of something bad, then the politicians and the public will think that there is no opposition, that everything is fine. Protesting is vital to keep issues in the public eye. People don’t do enough to educate themselves about the world, and they have a short attention span.
I have mixed feelings I guess. Protesting is Quakerly in some ways, unQuakerly in others. On one hand, we don’t proselytize, we don’t try to force our opinions on others. On the other hand, we’re supposed to bear witness against injustice, that’s the principle that Greenpeace was founded on, and my family has been donating to Greenpeace regularly for a while, although we may have to stop because we’re pretty short on money with sending me to Swarthmore and all. I dunno.
I am a Quaker by the way folks, so feel free to hate me if you don’t dig hippie peaceniks. Yes, Quakers still exist, especially here in the Philadelphia area, and no, most of them don’t dress like the dude on the Quaker Oats box. In fact, I met this awesome Quaker chick a while back, she was a punk rocker and made her own clothes, and she had this awesome red trenchcoat type thing, it really stood out in Meeting. Too bad she’s two years younger than me, lives on the other side of Philadelphia, and has a boyfriend.
“Life is hard… and so am I”
~The Eels~

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