At the outset of 2017, a simple Facebook event organized and united a quarter of a million people for an affair that many hoped would make a statement and raise awareness: The Women’s March on Washington D.C.
In a global study, Pew Research Center concluded that young people are more likely to believe that staging a protest produces effective results.
It is evident that people throughout time have gathered themselves together to express displeasure or disagreement with government or organizational policies.
In the 1960’s, Martin Luther King Jr. organized and led thousands of civil rights activists to march on Washington D.C. for equality in the nation.
History is littered with demonstrations and protests. A mandatory draft for the Vietnam war sparked protests that consisted of burning draft cards and unrest on college campuses across the U.S.
Protest is at the very core of American ideals and beliefs.
The right to self-expression is something we as Americans hold dear to our hearts and our heritage. It has set us apart from other countries in this world for a long time. We must remember the importance of such a right and what it has meant for us in the past.
A famous quote from Thomas Jefferson states, “A little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.”
Protest and rebellion are often necessary for the political world and any organization to realize where people stand.
The results of the 2016 election ensued an outpouring of protests. Some of these include the Women’s March on Washington, the Scientists March, protests at the international airports, live-video streaming protests, college campus protests, the presidential inauguration protests and many more.
UC Berkeley recently experienced what a displeased population of students can do. The university had announced a guest speaker named Milo Yiannopoulos, a conservative columnist and internet personality. He was coming to the university on his “Dangerous Faggot Tour.” The response from students and other participants started off as peaceful, but as tension grew and more students became informed on the matter, $100,000 worth of damage resulted.
Events like this one force us to take a step back and pause. Isn’t free speech something we laud and painfully protect? Isn’t it important for both sides of an argument to be heard? Do we not believe that a protest can be a helpful reminder that there are certain people who are unhappy with a current situation? Do we all not have a voice?
Protests are an intrinsic part to a healthy and functioning society. Protests become ineffective and detrimental when these physical displays turn into violent, destructive disasters. Let us look to Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi as individuals who had massive impacts on society and made the world a better place by leading peaceful, loving lives and inspiring others to raise their voices against injustice. Both men believed that nonviolence and love are what wins in the end.
Mahatma Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”
As we think about where we stand in the political turmoil that has encompassed our world, please take a moment or two to think about what you can do individually to make a change by focusing on being reasonable, tolerant and peaceful in this increasingly polarized world.