It makes your blood boil

It’s 9am on a Monday morning, and my blood is already boiling. The reason? Rush hour traffic. I almost got mowed down on my bike, together with my kid, by a driver who was in a hurry to bring his own kid to school. It’s the kind of moment that’s over in a flash, with rage and fear and a feeling of powerlessness that’s hard to channel. I yelled at his car, he probably didn’t hear me. Life goes on.

We all know there’s plenty of other issues to be angry about, not just on a daily basis but on a permanent basis. How do you deal with your thoughts and feelings about climate change, racism, gender inequality, housing, inflation, wars, politics, farmers, Trumpism, and so on? Are you angry all the time? Fearful, disappointed? Ready to give up? Or ready to fight for what’s right?

In spite of my own feelings, like most people I don’t really do protests. I’ve been to a few, out of anthropological curiosity mostly. I’m curious about the people who do stand up and say something. Who demand change. They seem to be in the minority, especially in a place like Delft. But they are there. I’ve been to some of the Extinction Rebellion highway blockades in Den Haag. And I dropped by the climate change protests organized by End Fossil LU/TUD, most recently last week at the faculty of ME. There were only a few dozen people in attendance, on a campus of tens of thousands of people, but they were there, enacting their right to protest.

What’s interesting to know is that they are hardly the first to speak up in Delft. Don’t be fooled by the superficial silence on campus. University historian Abel Streefland has been digging around in the archives and discovered the earliest mention of a student protest in Delft was way back in 1861 (the university was founded in 1842). If you want to know more about it, next week Abel is going to walk us through more than 150 years of issues, activists, and consequences in a mini-seminar on the history of activism on the TUD campus.

Personally, I’m quite curious what kind of issues have made people’s blood boil over the decades. Sure, climate is a hot issue now. Student housing has always been important. But what else? War, nukes, colonialism, immoral technologies…? I have no idea. Join me next Thursday and we’ll find out. And after we’re all up to date on the past, we can talk about what makes our blood boil today, and what we should do about it. Is activism the way? If not, what then? But if yes, then how?

In the meantime, my traffic anger issues are abating. I’m chill. Work here is awesome, and there’s never anything to complain about, let alone to protest over. Hahaha. Never 😀

  • Klaas P. van der Tempel, program maker