Partera Blog

The Price of a ‘good woman’

Nov 11, 2011

Life along the route between the bed and the training venue is captivating, every block filled with life: frolicking children draped in […]

99 to 1: Taking our Fear for a Walk

Oct 20, 2011

A note to kind readers: This blog is both more and less than a blog; it hardly does justice to an exciting confluence of events in Toronto, conferences on non-violence, trainings in non-violence and a non-violent Occupation of Toronto; and it exceeds anyone’s idea of a blog in length. If the excerpt below intrigues, read on!

Confronting Global Crises:  A Non-violent Perspective :  Keynote Address

Taking our fear for a walk: The role of critical consciousness in confronting global crises

A conversation overheard in an airport recently:

Please take off your shoes.


The airport staff person looks quizzically at the woman in front of him.  ‘Why?!’  Wonder what cave you’ve been living in.  Don’t fly much?  Strange, she looks reasonably intelligent; should I bother to tell her about the shoe bomber?  No; too many people in the queue. 

He resorts to the tried and true:  ‘It’s the rules.’ 

‘Oh!! That explains everything now doesn’t it.’ 

The dreaded beeping sound indicates that I must be hiding something. 

‘Why did that go off?’ I want to know.  ‘You must have something in your pockets or somewhere.’  A woman in the ubiquitous gray uniform of airport security approaches me with her hands up – about here – and I say, ‘what are you doing?’ 

I will need to search you. 


Because the machine beeped.

Why did the machine beep?

Because you must have something on you.

‘Then let’s see, shall we?’  I turn my pockets inside out, roll up my pant legs and turn around.  Nothing suspicious.  ‘I’ll go through the security portal once more just to be sure.’


Why not? 

Because you beeped. 

But why did I beep? 

Because you must have something on you.  So I have to search you.

But there’s nothing on me.  Do you not have a wand? 


I’ll search you over there in that little booth if you want privacy. 

No; if you’re going to do this, you will do it right here in front of everyone.  But you have no right to touch me. 

She summons the manager who towers over me, asking me menacingly if I would like to get home today. 

I lose.  I raise my arms, submit to the probing hands; yes, I do want to get home.  It’s been a long month and I need to get home.     

In the course of one day’s travel, there have been CCTV, iris scanners and whole-body sound waves, random selections and pat-downs, baggage searches, wands and x-rays; checks conducted on your laptop, your water bottle, your toothpaste tube, your child’s stuffy, dummy and formula, and – did I mention? – your shoes?  As you get dressed, belt, shoes, jacket, vest, fanny pack, fold up your laptop, pocket your mobile, collect up all of your belongings that have been dumped into plastic boxes for an additional run through the security gadgets, and look yearningly into the bin where your best tube of lipstick and your favourite moisturiser now languish, it’s difficult to think deep thoughts. 

Fear sells; fear invades, colonises our minds, takes over, shape-shifting and shifting shapes, ordering us into boxes and lines, kneading the defiance in us into compliance and we hardly notice.   Like sheep to the slaughter, we adapt to the new normal, repeat the aphorisms we’ve been told about bombers and terrorists and security and how law-abiding people have nothing to worry about. 

Fear is an industry that begets more of the same.  It generates the production of neuro-transmitters whose job it is to prepare us for fight or flight.  And it generates profits.  The creation ex nihilo of the Department of Homeland Security, its equipping, staffing and implementation of DHS projects in thousands of locations in the United States approaches $1 trillion dollars.  Somebody is making stunning quantities of money.  But, as its website assures us:  Homeland Security:  Preserving our Freedoms. 

Because I love my grand-kids

Sep 29, 2011

Asked why she was speaking out against Canada’s tar sands development and prepared for civil disobedience and arrest, Council of Canadians Director, […]

Known Unknowns and Unknown Unknowns

Sep 11, 2011

…Because if I know
         then, knowing,
                  I can no longer unknow
                         what I know
                                  and I know
that the consequences of knowing
       will change me.

Update on the boat

Jul 4, 2011

http://livenews.thestar.com/Event/Aboard_the_Gaza_flotilla The boat has left the port! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zeiINV-Ing&feature=related CBC footage by Alexandre, training Irish boat sabotaged http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxZbhrREmVw&NR=1 David Heap http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4a8KnbS6yt0&feature=related http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXMhodwffBQ&NR=1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HucmHqzhaAc&feature=related Dignite sets sail http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FCqDWilo0k&feature=related Kevin […]

Taking our fear for a walk

Jun 25, 2011

The media section of the Tahrir passenger list has grown to include Daria from Pravda, Adam and Hassan from press tv, the latter an acclaimed documentarist, as well as Alun from the Danish state broadcaster and Alexandra and Alexei from Radio Canada/RDI. The journalists now number more than a dozen. They are photographing the trainings, doing interviews, filing stories (see last postcard for a sampling). The Belgians, Danes and Australians are frequently getting up to leave a training session to take a call or do an interview with their national media.

Embargoes and Blockades

Jun 23, 2011

From somewhere in the eastern Mediterranean:

It’s been difficult to write anything at all, the days are long, exhausting, as we imagine ourselves into the next days and weeks; internet access is common but slow. But perhaps the greatest impediment to writing is the reality of our embargoed status. What at first appears as an intriguing constraint, adding to the flow of adrenalin, becomes increasingly sobering as the days pass and reports flow in. If we didn’t know why we needed to be careful of our speech in public places, why information on timing and location is strictly limited, we now know.

The Indignant Ones

Jun 21, 2011

I pick up a newspaper left on a bench in the National Gardens; it’s a few days old, French. Inside there are photos of last week’s demonstrations in Syntagma, the smoke of burning tires rising behind the images of protesters. Across the page, another photo of people crowding a public space, standing on an overturned car, mouths opened to release shouts – of what? Robson Street, Vancouver. I recall a quote captured in a Canadian paper before I left: What else do you expect me to do? I have to let it out somehow, he says to a journalist as he sets a newspaper box alight.