A Good Protest

Protesting. One of the fundamental rights in a democracy. As long as its not accompanied by violence. Gandhi, MLK. Both advanced and advocated systemic change through non-violent means.

In my time I’ve marched for things I care about. And I’ve dragged Jeff and the kids along. Change doesn’t happen if you dont speak up.

Sometimes I’ve watched others protest, and while I don’t always agree with their sometimes truly abhorrent points of view I believe they have the right to express their opinions, the same as me.

Protesting in a pandemic takes a special commitment. Think the BLM protesters after the unjust killings of black people in the US by police. You know the situation is bad if people risk their health to fight for their rights, and those of other people.

Spain is rife with protesting. Its something people do here a lot and I think its great. We generally like seeing protesting. Usually we learn something new. Gain a new perspective or discover an issue about which we were previously unaware.

Yesterday we went for a walk across the Turia and we saw the most socially distanced of protests – the car protest. It keeps those in the same household together in one vehicle and yet allows the cause to continue to roll along. In this case, literally.

This protest was for the new education reform law dubbed the Celaa’ law -after the minister of education. Its a controversial law about language in schools. I’ll try, as a total outsider to this topic, to explain the issue.

The new law protects the rights of the various communities (provinces) to teach their own language in schools. Not just Spanish. Languages like Valenciano, Catalán, Gallego, Basque, etc. ( Not an exhaustive list of languages in Spain). why was this an issue before? I don’t know but it seems there was a hole in the law regarding Cataluñas educational approach. And reform was needed.

Having no children in school we have no dog in this fight and, as foreigners, no real right to an opinion. So if you are Spanish reading this you can feel free to weigh in and educate me. Here is an article giving some background on the issue.

Needless to say, there are some passionate people against this new law and they chose a Sunday morning to let us all know their feelings with signs ranging from small ones printed at home to those painted on the sides of vans. All with the hashtag #StopCelaaLaw.

Not to diminish the cause but we didn’t really care what they were honking and shouting out their car windows.

Jeff laughed. ‘I cant believe I’m going to say this but its just nice to see a procession. I never thought I’d miss it but this has been a dry procession year. And almost no fireworks. It’d be better if they had a marching band.’

If I had been drinking a Starbucks I would have choked. Jeff missing random marching bands? What?!?

But protester-observing beggars can’t be choosers. But he’s right. Valencia without random marching bands, fireworks for no reason, and the spontaneous – never mind the epic- processions is kind of lonely and flat. This city needs noise and a little chaos to make it what it is. The other evening we were sitting in the small park near our house. Church bells were peeling like crazy, and with no other competition for our atención we were happy to sit and listen.

‘Someone just got married.’ He told me eating his frozen yogurt.

I smiled. ‘It’s a nice sound. I’d almost have another wedding just to get all the bells rung for us.’

That got me a look. We had two weddings. A third might be pushing it😉

We shall see what our fellow Valencians conjure up for safe celebrations this Navidad and New Years. But, if nothing else, we can probably count on a good political protest to tide us over until Valencia can be the Valencia we love again.