Power of Protests
Since January 21, the country and world have been engaging in some form of protest. Whether it be millions of women marching to send a message to the new administration about women's rights, or protesters in airports following the recently announced suspension of immigration from seven majority Muslim countries, we are witnessing powerful movements around the world. Although protests are far from a "new thing", they are certainly more in the spotlight lately. As people feel powerless to create change within systems set up to cause failures, those same people are increasingly looking for a way to use the most delicate thing - their voice - to make a difference. Taken a step farther, those same people realize that while there is power in one voice, there is even more in a multitude of them. And so people speak out and fight and yes, they march.
I've been thinking a lot about what motivates people so much that they are willing to stand up. I've been lucky to hear these stories of being on the front line of a social movement from my freedom fighting mother since I was old enough to understand. This is not new to me. My mother is a child of the sixties. Not only that, she's a child of segregation. She spent many a night in a local jail having been arrested for marching for civil rights. She's a freedom fighter to her core and I love her for it. But more than someone who is willing to march for what she believes in, she is willing to live that truth on a daily basis.
To the question of "what good comes from protests?" I don't have to look any further than my mother for the answer. She's been blazing a trail of peaceful dissent for most of her life. She has seen first hand how a movement can not only capture attention, but it can also create real change. So much so that the spirit within the 17-year old protester still exists within the almost 70-year old woman who today drove to the airport to protest yet again.
As we all struggle to make sense of the state of affairs in our world, it's easy to see the protesters and ask, what happens when you put your posters away and leave the march? It's simple - you do something every day that promotes the essence of what you were marching for in the first place. If you stay true to your core beliefs, the march may end, but the fight will never stop. That's true for my mother and others like her who have dedicated their lives to fighting for equality and social justice, and against oppression.
In the coming days, months and years, I hope like hell the protests don't stop. I hope that I will have the opportunity and gumption to stand up in protest against the things that I disagree with. I hope that people take notice. And I hope that the protests change minds and hearts, regardless of when that change happens.
The easy way out is to stop fighting because the change doesn't come immediately, or overnight, or even in a lifetime. But that's just one possible outcome. You don't fight and march expecting change to come in a measurable amount of time. You do it because maybe, just maybe if you stand for the thing you believe in, someone else will begin to believe it too...
Photo Credit: Jerry Kiesewetter