The Art of Protest

It’s hard to make it through a day of the news or social media cycle anymore without seeing some sort of protest.  Protest is an interesting tool, really.  When used appropriately, it can change the world. Yet when used incorrectly, it can do the exact opposite of its intended purpose and rather than push society toward its desired direction, can actually create further resistance to its own cause.  

I think the key to protest comes with the intention behind it.  Often times the idea behind protest is to enact change.  But sadly, especially in a selfie-driven, self centered society, I fear protest has become much more about seeking attention rather than creating change.  One downside to being a protester who is motivated by seeking attention is if their cause actually attains success.  For once success occurs, there is no longer a need for protest.  And if their is no longer a need for protest then there is no longer the avenue of protest with which to gain attention.  

If we are honest with ourselves, we have to acknowledge that protest might be a great way to draw attention to an issue, but it is a terrible way to actually solve the issue.  For solutions, civil discussion is significantly more useful.  Don’t believe me?  Well then ask yourself.....when was the last time someone changed my mind about something by screaming at me through protest?   I’ll give you a moment to reminisce.  

Protest, like violence, is a very dangerous activity to enter into and should only be done so after careful consideration.  A case can be made that there is a place for violence in extreme situations (ending slavery comes to mind) but we should caution this.  When we decide to resort to violence for our cause, we shift the emphasis from being who has the position of intellectual and moral superiority to simply who is strongest. Likewise, once we decide to engage in protest it can shift the emphasis from the nature of our cause to simply who is loudest.  For instance, the Westboro Baptist Church hate group is well known for their bombastic protests, and while they themselves are a small group of people, they are known nationally.  So for those wishing to further their cause, it may be worth while to consider other options before choosing the perfected method of Westboro Baptist, Americas most notorious hate group, to promote your cause.

If we wish to seek true unity, we must first relinquish the need to be “right” at all costs and stop seeking to impose our will upon others.  While we may not ever agree with those who hold views in opposition to our own, we can at least take the time to try to understand them and why they have come to the conclusions they have reached.  If we do these things we could make the case that we are actually seeking change.  But if we’d rather keep posting to the masses and screaming from bullhorns, then we might want to consider the possibility that our motivation isn’t to bring others together.....but to elevate one’s self.  


Popular Posts