There’s something to be said for solidarity. For sticking up for your fellow human. For defending people’s inalienable rights. For showing your support for a cause, whether or not your efforts seem to be making a tangible difference.
Ultimately, solidarity is enough to help the marginalized feel included, and not alone or ignored. That’s a powerful statement on its own, because loneliness can be a dangerous feeling.
People need to feel loved and like they’re a part of something greater than themselves. We’re communal creatures; we run in packs. The bigger the pack, the more powerful we are.
So what good does protesting actually do?
Since the 2017 Presidential Inauguration, we’ve seen an impressive amount of protests sweep, not only the nation, but the world. Whether or not you agree with the causes, you can’t deny that people have a lot to say. They’re so fed up with [insert social or political justice issue] that they literally can’t sit still anymore.
And why should they?
One thing I love about protests is the sheer size of them. Of course, not all are as big as the ones we’ve been seeing lately, but just in case anyone tries to downplay how upset the general public is over anything specific, protests are usually enough to drive the message home:
“This isn’t OK, and the people aren’t happy.”
An estimated three times more people attended the Women’s March in Washington than did the inauguration (although, not according to President Trump’s eyeballed-estimates).
That means that three times more people were outraged at the idea of having a man who they perceived to be sexist and chauvinistic in the White House than supported him on the day he was sworn in as President of the United States.
Make all the excuses you want for why it all happened (“Trump supporters actually have jobs!”), but at the end of the day, people show up for what they’re passionate about.
Beyond the immediate effects of protesting, which can sometimes make a difference in exacting real change, demonstrations go down in history and help construct the narrative of the time. When children read about the Trump Administration in their textbooks, what will their perspective be? Regardless of your personal view of his policies, the general public is not OK with many of them.
It’s important that the stories of those who rise up in the fight against whatever are told with just as much importance and emphasis as the line-item details of each EO.
These stories craft our cultural identity, and they help the youth to understand and embody the American spirit. And we all know that Americans like to hear stories of how we faced the tyrant and won by way of our sheer ingenuity, determination, and gumption. We all grew up on them.
Take, for instance, the story of how we ended up in this land. It’s one of struggling for a cause, for the right to live freely apart from the government-mandated religions that ruled over Europe.
Take the plight of every other immigrant after that, who came here seeking sanctuary and refuge from one thing or another – oppression, crime, lack of opportunity or resources, to name a few.
Take the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s. Or Black Lives Matter. Or the Women’s March of 2017. Or the stand-ins against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Or Shia LeBeouf…
Protests are a part of our cultural fiber, and they’re not going away any time soon. People opposed to the opposition make excuses for why these protests are so huge rather than acknowledge what’s actually happening. They attempt to blindly deny that maybe there’s less support for the President and his policies than they’d like to think. They try to defer the topic from the actual issues by calling the protesters “snowflakes” who are still mad that Clinton lost the election.
But this isn’t about Clinton. No one’s talking about her anymore. The conversation has moved on and there are new issues to be addressed and discussed…but that’s another topic for another day.
Protests help to show the world where the people stand, rather than letting the government speak for them. They help to raise global awareness. They demonstrate inclusion and solidarity – people standing up for others, even if they’re not included within the particular demographic that is affected.
They bring people together and remind of a common goal. And sometimes, change happens as a direct result of them. Or sometimes, the government chooses to ignore the people.
Either way…change comes. The people find their voice. If they need to, they get louder. And if they need to, they change their approach.