Last week I was accused of being a “sheeple.”
The definition of “sheeple” being: those people unable to think for themselves and who allow others to form their opinions.
It’s a term that’s been around since the scared and very pliable sheep in George Orwell’s 1984.
I took offence because I’ve always considered myself a free thinker, someone who holds atypical views on a lot of political subjects; conservative on some, liberal on others.
In this case, an acquaintance of mine was musing about the privileged people in the West who are irritated by the Quebec student protests. My esteemed friend noted that there appears to be a growing opposition to people protesting. An apathy towards a cause — an apathy that works in favour of the lawmakers whose decision the masses are protesting against.
In essence, my associate found it unsettling to see so many people decrying a group standing up for what they believe in and exercising their rights — the fear was that it was headed down a road that could erode our freedoms and play right into the hands of those who wish to control and rule us.
However, I believe there is another side.
I do consider the current situation in Quebec to be brought on by a people spoiled by the lowest tuition in North America, free child care and constant political pandering. It’s hard to be sympathetic to people who have it, compared to most students, pretty good.
It would be akin to Albertans marching through the streets to protest our $1.13-per-litre gas prices while those paying $1.30 or more elsewhere rolled their eyes.
Part of the freedom of expression is the ability to tell others to shut up. They don’t have to listen, but, just because someone else has a problem, it doesn’t mean I can’t voice my disagreement.
Maybe it’s the residual effect from the Occupy protests, where many of us failed to really see what exactly those camping in Olympic plaza were trying to get across. The failure eroded the true power of protests.
Perhaps if one is going to take to the street in outrage, it should be in light of the more serious allegations of corruption in our national police force, or a high-spending and closed-off government, as opposed to a problem students across our nation wish they had.
Lest we erode the power of the human assembly and voice.