Before I start, here are the four ways Merriam-Webster defines the word “protest”: 1) a solemn declaration of opinion and usually of dissent; 2) the act of objecting or a gesture of disapproval (usually organized public demonstration of disapproval) 3) a complaint, objection, or display of unwillingness usually to an idea or a course of action 4) an objection made to an official or a governing body of a sport.
Now, why did I define “protest”? Well, today on the sidewalk, two different antis tried to engage me. One person who tried to engage with me was a woman from the AWC, who I have never seen on the sidewalk before, and another person was NB. It was the encounter with the woman from the AWC that stuck with me all day so far.
I was taught as a child that if you make eye contact or someone smiles at you, you smile at them. That is a way to be polite, and I have a hard time getting out of the habit while I am on the sidewalk. My concern is that if I stop doing it there, I won’t show that form of politeness in the rest of my life. So the woman from the AWC smiled at me, I smiled back. At one point in the morning, I end up standing next to her.
I was standing there for a little while, and she said “Good morning,” and being compulsive in my politeness (thank you mom and dad), I said good morning back. I thought, being silly and naïve, that it would be the end of it. However, if you give them an inch, they will take a mile. She asked me the question, “So, what brings you here this morning?” Something clicked when she said that, and I realized if I were to answer that question we would get into a “discussion” where she would try to convince me that I am wrong and an idiot for doing what I am doing. I wasn’t going there with her. I wasn’t going to give her the satisfaction of me losing my cool when we try to “discuss” it with one another.
My reply back to her was “I don’t talk to protesters. Sorry.” And her response just confirmed why I didn’t engage with her. She said, “I am not a protester. I am a human being… who loves children.” I lost my temper. I didn’t say a word to her, but I felt my blood boil, because I thought: Right because if you are all of those things, I, however, am not a human being. I actually hate children and I am a heathen for not following the word of your Lord and Savior. None of those things are true off course. I am a human being, I am not a heathen, and I love children.
Fortunately, I just walked away, but I was angry at her implication. It wasn’t exactly what she said, but how she said it. When I thought about it for a second, though, my mind was mauling over not the “I am a human being who loves children” part of her response, but the first part. “I am not a protester.” That is why I defined the term protest. WE, the escorts, aren’t protestors. We aren’t there to sway anyone to believe one way or another. We are there to provide support. What the decision is of the client is none of our business. Neither is why she is doing it. All that matters is that we are there to support them in THEIR decisions. That’s it. That’s different from what people like NB and the woman from the AWC are doing. They are there, as a group, in public, to take an action demonstrating disapproval (see definition two of “protest”). They are trying to convince the clients that their decisions are wrong, sinful, stupid, and ridiculous. We are not even there to say their decision is right or wrong. We are there on the sidewalk to support them in THEIR decisions.
That’s why we ask if they want us to walk with them. We don’t hound them. We don’t shove things in their faces, and we don’t follow them when they don’t want to be followed. We aren’t there to protest for or against anything. When that woman from the AWC said, “I am not a protestor,” she was lying or she didn’t know the definition of protest, because she is protesting by its very definition.