One Thing We Can All Agree On :: Protest


There have been opinions on what people should and shouldn't say or do in response to the election of Donald Trump. Currently, most of the criticism centers around "stop protesting and get on board." I can respect that perspective, but I thought it might be a good time to ask "well, when is it time to ____?"

I think it would be helpful and unifying to help us remember that we all believe there are times for civil disobedience.


When is it time to PROTEST?

The example I think most people agree on :

The Boston tea party

Elementary history lessons across the country hail this destructive protest as a high point in America's fight for independence. The people protested over the concept of taxation without representation.

Current protests -- most of which aren't destructive -- are led by people who have a similar sense. Not taxation without representation, but a sense of oppression without representation.

I imagine the British thought, "we rule you. Get over it and stop protesting" when that tea went into the water. But the people who threw the tea in the water wanted something different. And because of that decision, you (if you're reading from the US) are no longer under British rule.

So before you protest the protestors, stop and consider the positive thoughts and feelings you have about the Boston Tea Party. Then carry those over to the protests happening now. You may have a different perspective than the protestors currently taking to the streets, but you can understand how they think and feel.



The example I think most people agree on :

Religious persecution 

There are examples of the persecution of religious groups throughout history. The persecution and systematic extermination of Christians is even still active today -- a reported 7,100 people were killed in 2015 because of their Christian faith. 

In this instance, I would assume that most people would have be totally okay if a Christian group had started a #christianlivesmatter hashtag in order to raise awareness of the issue and to show solidarity to those threatened.

So today, a significant part of the black community looks at killings of black American citizens and tie it to a very real systematic problem. As a response, we have the #blacklivematter hashtag. A tool implemented on social media to raise awareness and show solidarity.

And what do some in white America respond with? "No. Don't focus on black lives because #alllivesmatter." 

I think it's good for those who have responded to #blacklivesmatter with #alllivesmatter to consider if they would have responded the same had the hashtag been more closely related to those with whom they identify. 


When is it time to SPEAK OUT AGAINST A LEADER?

The example I think most people agree on :


I've seen the critics of Trump's critics saying,  "give him a chance." And the truth is, there's not much of a choice. Trump's critics will have to give him a chance. But the idea of silencing criticism isn't necessarily helpful.

Dissident voices are an essential element in shaping conversations and policy. When dissident voices are given a platform, it helps us understand a different perspective and may influence what and how decisions are made.

One of the most effective tools of tyrannical regimes is the silencing of critics and the elimination of alternative perspectives.

Choose your favorite dictatorial example. And consider your thoughts and feelings toward the silencing of dissident voices by that dictator's regime. Also consider how dissident voices had an opportunity to prevent, alter, or usurp that regime and its destructive treatment of people. And consider the importance of timing in this process -- earlier is more effective. Once a dictator is put in place, policies are beginning to unroll, and that leader has the force of police and military, dissent is much more difficult and dangerous.

The point is this... we all believe in the power and importance of dissent.

And the people who are dissenting at present can site specific statements by the current president elect that point to his intent to oppress or strip away the rights of minority groups.  

So, in the end, we're all going to be forced to give Trump a chance, but consider the examples where you believe in the power and necessity of speaking out against a leader. And allow those thoughts and feelings to influence how critical you are of current critics. Might their voice be important in shaping how we move forward in the creation of policy?

When we consider our own support of civil disobedience, I think it helps us truly come together!