The Beauty of Peaceful Protest

‘‘nonviolent resistance is a courageous confrontation of evil by the power of love’’

King, Stride, 80

This is just a friendly reminder to stand up for your rights. In a time of modernity, uncertainty, it’s difficult to hold your bearings. Many of us find ourselves lost, alone, drifting along shallows of complacency. A joke in office, an army of droogs file in formation, cracked smile & flag in hand. An aging generation of flawed patriots clench onto their last strongholds of the grand old.  Recitation of hymns to a flawed system, we are a country in need of renovation in the midst of globalization, keys in our hand.

Yet, for many,

we just daydream. Still in bed.

Why is that the most beautiful flowers refuse to blossom.

I apologize if this generalization comes off as derogatory or impartial, many younger adults have made amazing strides to bring humanitarian ideals to levels of precedent in standard law, but the count is still much too small. The United States is in a trying time, direction unknown. We’ve made great strides and false steps, premature notions set in stone. Few problems lay on millennial sole fault line, the rise of social technology a case study on child subjects, we were born in a Skinner box. But we do have faults; namely, many we are pretty complacent.

In perspective, there’s going to be a lot of spots to fill in government in like 20 years, pretty much the whole body of congress for starters. However you feel on secular and spiritual beliefs, it wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing to be involved. You see, that freedom to feel, to choose, is a power subtly being attacked everyday. Yet in what civil liberties experts are calling “an attack on protest rights throughout the states”, around 30 pieces of legislation to curb mass protests with extreme prejudice. Some bills have made major headlines, and I am not saying however much one has kept up with Kardashians is absolutely nothing but a vacuum to reason and intellect, but there are more important things to bear in mind while panning through Facebook.

Whether one gives a shit about the existential value in life is up to them, and now is time to fight to ensure a country as sanctuary, a united front. Antarctica is splitting off. The KKK is attempting a revival through the alt-right. The US Government, as it exists today, is based on the idea that those in power “work” for the betterment of all individuals within our society. They cleverly crafted a document that was, for all intents and purposes, pretty straightforward. Our Founding Fathers understood human nature – after all, they were students of world history. They knew the world would change. They knew that, over time, no one person or group would ever stay the same.They built provisions into this document that would allow for change, but to also avoid the possibility of destroying what was establish in the beginning. In a capitalist society in which money can buy you anything (*cough* cream), including political office and support, the right of the people to organize (or protest) is key.

Whatever your issue – climate preservation (what’s left), workers rights, unchecked medical rates, police brutality, expansion of private prisons, anti-war efforts, reality of the war on drugs, or education, change won’t come until effort is put forth. From Virginia to Washington state, legislators have introduced bills that would increase punishments for blocking highways, ban the use of masks during protests, pardon drivers who strike protesters with their cars and, and one bill included the right to seize the assets of people involved in protests that later turn violent. Still, other bills in states like Oklahoma and South Dakota, are intended to discourage protesting related to oil pipelines, mainly in relation to the Dakota Pipeline. It’s fair to say the proposals are attacking protesters on many fronts, determined generally by the state or reigning problems of the region as an obvious effort to deter protest through counter-legislature.

Speculation shows a correlative between the rise of state regulation in light of the heightened count of protests, especially since the inauguration of US President Donald Trump and his colorful posse. Thankfully, the courts have generally been on the side of the people:

“The Supreme Court has gone out of its way on multiple occasions to point out that streets, sidewalks and public parks are places where [First Amendment] protections are at their most robust,”  -Lee Rowland, senior attorney with American Civil Liberties Union.

A lack of involvement is the crux to humanitarian progress, impeding a centralized voice. A post-nuclear era, the rise of modern technology has made the stakes as well as the payout much higher.

What’s changed since traditional battles of legal protest is simple: social media. Social Media has made it more possible than ever to organize large scale protests almost anywhere with the right voice. The only problem is that many of the same laws- both those that regulate, as well as protect protestors, are becoming outdated, more and more every day. A revitalization of civil rights is in dire need in this country, precedent can only cover so much, with less and less footing every day.

‘‘the choice today is no longer between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence’’ -MLK Jr. (Papers 5:424).

Either we step up to carry the torch or accept the consequences, however dire, that will surely follow. This situation, besides the obvious advances in social media and mass communications, has similarities to the widespread protests of the 60’s, states Douglas McAdam, a Stanford sociology professor who studies protest movements. “For instance, southern legislatures — especially in the Deep South — responded to the Montgomery Bus Boycott (and the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education) with dozens and dozens of new bills outlawing civil rights groups, limiting the rights of assembly, etc. all in an effort to make civil rights organizing more difficult,”

All I simply ask of you is this: Be wary, no skeptical, of the government currently in power. Question every piece of legislature, every news update, push for objectivity. Attend rallies with passion, not anger. One the main reasons a lot of counter legislature staying afloat in congress is because of the violence ensued around many riots and protests; it doesn’t matter the cause, push with peace. Lastly, be as involved in the democratic process, whether it’s for your city or state, or on a national scale. Though a lot of more is achievable in short time via your local government, national government was never intended to make sweeping changes, despite popular misconceptions.

When attending protests, keep in mind Dr. King’s six key principles to nonviolent protest:

  1. First, one can resist evil without resorting to violence.
  2. Second, nonviolence seeks to win the ‘‘friendship and understanding’’ of the opponent, not to humiliate them
  3. Third, evil itself, not the people committing evil acts, should be opposed.
  4. Fourth, those committed to nonviolence must be willing to suffer without retaliation as suffering itself can be redemptive.
  5. Fifth, nonviolent resistance avoids ‘‘external physical violence’’ and ‘‘internal violence of spirit’’ as well.
  6. Sixth, the nonviolent resister must have a ‘‘deep faith in the future,’’ stemming from the conviction that ‘‘the universe is on the side of justice’’

Thank you for reading and good luck out there, I have faith in our future, and our future is you.

1 Comment

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