Should I join a protest? Should you?
It turns out, at least in this day and age, protests are problematic agents of change.
Guidelines for starting or joining a protest:
- Do you have a legitimate grievance against a commonly accepted illegitimate power, institution or societal norm or establishment?
- Are you willing to go the distance and risk everything—your reputation, your income, your relationships, your future and perhaps your life?
- Are you willing to accept that the change that you fight for may not come within your expected time frame, may not come within your focus of the situation, may not come within your lifetime or may not come at all?
If you answered YES to those three questions, then you might consider joining or starting a protest. How to evaluate your decision:
ONE: Is your cause both worthy and viable.
• 2003 The Iraq War Protests: Worthy? Generally. Viable? No. The powers that be didn’t care what protestors thought. They went to war anyway.
• 1960 Civil Rights Protests: Worthy? Yes. Viable? Eventually. The legitimacy of the requests far exceeded the ability for government to ignore the worthiness of the underlying reality of what the protests were about.
• 2009 Occupy Movement Protests: Worthy? Yes. Viable? No. Although millions lost jobs and their homes, the central aspect that this was Wall Street and the powers that be are deeply entrenched with that band of thieves negated any hope of success for this movement.
TWO: You may die pursuing your ideals.
• 1989 The Tienanmen Square protests resulted in thousands of dead Chinese dissidents and resulted in no change in policy.
• 2011 The Arab Spring Revolts created nothing but chaos with tens of thousands dying if not hundreds of thousands, including Syrians who were emboldened by the so called success of the Tunisians and possibly the Libyans. The result? ISIS, and the Arab Winter with only Tunisia surviving the tumult that has rocked the region for a decade.
THREE: Change is hard.
• Women’s voting, Women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, Black rights, Workers and Teachers strikes throughout the ages and dozens of other examples. All of those protests, movements or actions resulted in change—eventually. Most took years if not decades.
- These days, organizing a protest is an app on your phone. Tap, tap, tap: Meet at First and Main, bring banners and gas masks.
- Your cause might be worthy, but we’ve all now got Protest Exhaustion.
- And the biggest deterrent to any protest—actually making a statement, actually raising awareness in the world today—counter-protest insurgents. Activists actively seeking to disrupt and escalate violence in your “peaceful” protest.
Do protests work these days? My personal belief is no. You want to champion a cause, change the world? Start a GoFundMe page to oust the politicians that are in the pockets of the lobbyists who actually run the world.
Up until recently, protests seemed to work much more effectively. And I believe this was due to the egregious injustices that people had endured. As those injustices fall to the righteous revolts whereby lawmakers enact corrective and healing laws, fewer and fewer truly dreadful inequities remain to be corrected.
Yet, folks still feel lesser than—as they should. Look at income inequality, the rich and the rest of us, the 10% and the 90% and then there’s the gender and racial income inequality too. There’s the healthcare issues, and firearm reform. And a dozen other hot-topic issues. However, the intensity of injustice, the divergent level of what wrongs exist now compared to what the future might look like — someday, are not expansive enough to engender the protests reflective of the imbalances of the past.
When such apathy occurs, and it has, the only way to change the system is from within. Green shoots sprouting within the rotting trunk of the Tree of Liberty, not without.
Blood of patriots? If the Idiot-In-Chief gets reelected, well, we may again have thousands dying to water that tree.