I know it’s late and for many of you, the fifth of November has come and gone. I do not claim to be British, as I was born and raised in America, but rather than bumble around the point, I will jump right in: Guy Fawkes Day. I know that some view Guy Fawkes as a revolutionary, some as a terrorist, but no one denies the change he made had real and lasting effects on the world we live in today.
I enjoy the movie V for Vendetta-but recently I’ve found it’s almost so relateable it hurts. Allow me to quote a speech from it-one of the most moving speeches in the whole movie, I think.
V: Good evening, London. Allow me first to apologise for this interruption. I do, like many of you, appreciate the comforts of everyday routine, the security of the familiar, the tranquility of repetition, the totality of television. I enjoy them as much as any bloke. But in the spirit of commemoration, where upon important events of the past, usually associated with someone’s death or the end of some awful bloody struggle, are celebrated with a nice holiday, I thought we could mark this November the 5th, a day that is sadly no longer remembered, by taking some time out of our daily lives to sit down and have a little chat. There are, of course, those who do not want us to speak. I suspect even now, orders are being shouted into telephones, and men with guns will soon be on their way. Why? Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn’t there? Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission. How did this happen? Who’s to blame? Well, certainly, there are those who are more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable. But again, truth be told, if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror. I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn’t be? War, terror, disease. They were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. Fear got the best of you, and in your panic you turned to the now high chancellor, Adam Sutler. He promised you order, he promised you peace, and all he demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent. Last night, I sought to end that silence. Last night, I destroyed the Old Bailey to remind this country of what it has forgotten. More than four hundred years ago, a great citizen wished to embed the fifth of November forever in our memory. His hope was to remind the world that fairness, justice, and freedom are more than words; they are perspectives. So if you’ve seen nothing, if the crimes of this government remain unknown to you, then I would suggest that you allow the fifth of November to pass unmarked. But if you see what I see, if you feel as I feel, and if you would seek as I seek, then I ask you to stand beside me, one year from tonight, outside the gates of Parliament, and together we shall give them a fifth of November that shall never, ever be forgot. -V For Vendetta (2006)
Now I know it’s long-but it’s worth it. Every single word is worth reading when you think about the election just days away. I voted already, a lot of people I know have voted already. But this is for those of you who have not yet done so-or are waiting for Election Day.
Do not think for one moment that your voice will not be heard. If you vote, your vote counts. If you do not vote, your voice is also heard, but the message is much more dire. I’m not asking you to vote the way I did. I’m not asking you to align yourself with my party, to vote in a specific way on certain issues. What I’m doing is asking you to vote. I’d be beyond thrilled if you chose to vote for someone other than DT, but I cannot force you to vote one way or another.
Listen, the fifth of November went down in remembrance of someone who saw the oppression of a government who had gone too far, oppressed too many people. I don’t want actions like that to be necessary-but the time will come when we cannot remain silent, when we cannot remain voiceless.
You see, the way oppression works is by singling out those who are made into scapegoats. But when that group is gone, a new group will be singled out. And the cycle will continue until there is only one group left. So when they come for one group, and you say nothing, you’re allowing the oppressors to put you on their list.
I stand for those who have had their voices taken from them. I stand for the hope of peace and life and access to clean water and human rights. My skin is white-and I have that privilege. So it is with that privilege that I make my voice heard. I’m working on a #NoDapl blog, and I’m writing letters to my elected officials-but for now, the most important thing that can be done is to vote.
So please, go vote. Vote Monday, vote Tuesday. If you have an absentee ballot, mail it out right away-and get that time stamp. Take action. Put your privilege to use. Put your oppression at the focus.
I know not everyone can protest all their problems. I know not everyone can dedicate their lives to justice and law and awareness. But voting only takes a couple minutes-but the effects of your choices last for years.