“Its not France if someone isn’t striking.”
Just another morning conversation with Sian. Both Sian and I attempt to hear the French news every morning but constantly have to battle the sounds of Edgar crying and Victor jumping about or asking for chocolat chaude. Today is now the sixth day of national protest. The French government is attempting to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62 and the full state pension age from 65 to 67. Although the public highly disapproves and the strikes are starting to create major problems, (such as cutting approximately 50 percent of the flights coming in and out of Paris Orly Airport), the government really does not have much room to budge. The strike, or grève, is affecting travel, transportation, schools, oil refineries, petrol stations, you name it. It is weird to be here when something so major is going on. I am in a foreign country while something extremely important is happening.
This year is extremely political for France. Not just the grève, but there are many other things going on as well. For example, the high alert for terrorist attacks, the controversial new law prohibiting Muslim women to wear burkas, (which by the way, France has the largest Muslim population in Europe), and expelling illegal Gypsy immigrants and dismantling their camps. Sarkozy is doing some major things here and pissing off a lot of people.
I never was really into reading the news in the US. I know, its bad, but honestly never had an interest. Now that I am here in France and see how important it is to be aware, I am constantly checking the news. I cannot believe I was so ignorant and didn’t see the importance on being connected to what is going on in the world. I love America, but going abroad makes me realize how “in our own world” we are. There really is no emphasis put on learning foreign languages and I never really was encouraged to consistently check out current happenings in the world around me. I guess this is part of the whole growing up experience I wanted. I just feel like I never was really inconvenienced in the US. These strikes are affecting everyone’s’ lives. Not only are the people who rely on public transportation unable to easily go places, but now also the people with their own means of transportation are being denied of gas. Flights are completely screwed up and I can’t even imagine what the airports must be like today. It is just incredible to me what is happening. I realize I am probably naïve and inexperienced but this is amazing to see first hand. Not good amazing. But interesting.
So day 6. Lets see how much longer the French government will put up with the public’s battle.