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Non violent protest? Does it work? Would you go out on the streets?
I've been involved in 3 protest marches over the years. Recently I've been on a protest march against closure of local health facilities. Have you ever been out protesting? Would you ever do it?And for what reasons?
I'm not a protester and have no plans to be. But non-violent protests do work and change can come. There are plenty of examples both home and abroad:
1. The Civil Rights Movement - Look at the power of images when it came to the Pettis Bridge incident. They did not fight back. These scenes were played on the nightly news and shocked much of the nation. Their dedication won over an indifferent population (outside the south), which put pressure on Jim Crow/segregation.
2. Philippines - In '86, the marches against Marcos in the wake of the killing of Benino Aquino brought down his government.
3. Anti-war protesters during the Vietnam War - Directly affected the way the war was fought. There's no doubt about that. I may disagree w/them politically, but there is no doubt that student marches changed policy. Admittedly, some protests became violent. But overall, they are considered by many to be an extension of the Civil Rights movement.
There are numerous other examples in Eastern Europe and Russia at the end of the Cold War as well. Non-violent action when combined with TV make for a powerful tool.
I'm reluctant to absolutely rule out the possibility, because I suppose that under certain circumstances I may consider it - although I can't right now imagine those circumstances. I just prefer to reserve my right to change my mind about whether I'd resort to that behavior.
I don't like crowds and crowd behavior, and I think there are better ways of getting things done (or trying to) than to go stand in crowd and/or hold signs and//or yell. I know that sometimes being out there in a crowd can serve some purpose. It can also at times backfire with regard to some purposes.
I'm not trashing all demonstrations by any means, but for every sincere individual with a legitimate cause/motivation, there are often a bunch of twenty-year-old "sheep" who just think it's cool to be "involved". And, these days with so many Baby Boomers looking back on their "glory days" of protesting and "being involved" or "trying to make a difference" (in the 1960's/early 1970's) there are a bunch of Boomers who are only too happy to re-live their youth as well (as if our culture remains frozen in the 1960's).
I just think that when groups can be formed/joined, and with the Internet being what it is now, there are most often more constructive/effective ways to try to make a point or get change than to take SOME issues to the streets (especially if it's an issue that holds a high risk of things turning really ugly).
With something like the health facilities you mentioned (or in my area there was "thing" about a supermarket chain) maybe standing out there with a sign is a harmless way to show support and numbers. To me, particularly in the current climate that's going on in our society, I really think people who form/run some types of groups should try to steer activities with the focus on things like substantial communication and projects, even gatherings (just not NECESSARILY) essentially inviting everyone and his brother to stand out with a sign because they have visions of "coolness" and "being involved" or even "being part of something bigger". College students are capable of better/more than that as far as trying to "make a difference" goes. Baby Boomers OUGHT to be.
People in-between are often too busy, and secondary-school kids need a better example than what SOME protesting shows them today.
I just think people need to be selective about their causes and approaches, and not let the right to protest be cheapened by protesting "everything".
I've been to only one protest. That was way back in 1970 in Sydney when 40,000 people gathered peacefully to protest their opposition to the senseless war in Vietnam.
The protest was peaceful right up until the time a score or so mounted police moved in to push the people out of the public park and deliberately disrupt it. I'm pretty sure this was done at the orders of the then discredited State Governor, Robert Askin, who had made it pretty obvious that he was on the side of those who were FOR the war.
As we know, this war (which apparently was never a 'declared' war) divided nations all around the world into For and Against. I'm proud to say I was Against it.
So is it possible to have a non-violent protest. It is, provided those who oppose the protesters stay right out of it.
My first protest I participated in is pale compared to the other examples. It was over the policy in 1973 at a high school girls could wear only pant suits and not Levi or cords. Kinda' trivial maybe, but a first door to equality of gender/sex.
BTW . . . I think it would be interesting to research protesting historically.
Regard the main questions the open question of non violent protest is from my learning in essence is a controlled riot, Thus, easily a line can be crossed with so many elements of large crowds with many groups within. For example the break down of non-violent protest at Ferguson.
Does it work as an absolute is no, IMO. Can it work seen with the many examples given by others definitely. Would I go on the streets? Today, no. Why? Mostly because of my age and so forth . . . said with jest is I don't run fast enough anymore and get high levels of anxieties in crowds. I would lose perspective of why I was there.
I don't plan to do this personally, but history is full of examples of change coming only through protest or revolution, either peaceful or non-peaceful. I feel that it is a matter of calling. God wants one man to be a doctor and another to be a priest. Some to protect and others to do different things. One should find one's own dharma and stick with it. We are all different.
And many are stirred to protest when social situations and injustices become so pronounced there is no alternative but to join in with others and make known these injustices to a larger audience. One small act by a person can soon inspire.
Yes. We are all inwardly accountable. Each must find his own way. Peace.
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