The act of protest is one that is meant to be dramatic and inspire attention.
On December 16, 1773, the Sons of Liberty did not sneak onto three British merchant vessels and dump 342 chest of tea into the Boston Harbor because they wanted to make a giant glass of iced tea.
On February 1, 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and his close friend Ralph Abernathy were not arrested for refusing to obey Selma, Alabama police traffic directions while marching to the courthouse, because they wanted to simply take a stroll and enjoy the weather.
We should never dismiss the message of what one is protesting, simply based on the legality of the actions that are employed. With that said, we should never resort to violence in order to protest because that will only justify dismissal of the message one is trying to have heard.
I am only thirty-five years old, but fourteen of those years I have spent in law enforcement. One nice thing about being in law enforcement is it gives you the opportunity to experience life on a much deeper level than most people realize even exist. Whether it is good or bad, most people probably only get to see 20% of all that life encompasses, whereas the police officer sees instrumentally much more of life than this.
One thing I have learned over the years, is that nobody protest or make demands when they don’t feel oppressed. Don’t think for one second that those feelings of oppression are solved by the fall of a tear gas canister or clasp of the set of handcuffs. Understand I am not to being critical of the police when I say that. Ultimately, order must be restored when peaceful protest turns into civil unrest. However, don’t be disillusioned into thinking that the temporary restoration of order has solved the underlying problems that exist.
Ultimately, the solution of the problem is present long before the riot ever exists. See the protestor possess one trait in common with us all, they are human. As a human being, when any of us feel like our opinions or feelings aren’t being heard by another, we begin to elevate our behavior until someone will finally listen to us.
The solution to the problem is we must be willing to listen to each other when people amongst us cry out. The act of acknowledging the concerns of others leads to real meaningful change and stops the riots before they occur. Does that mean we have to bend over backwards everyone’s individual concerns? No. However, we should always possess the desire to care about the concerns of others. In the end, America was founded on protest, and it has been through civil demonstration that it has continued to progress.
So the goal should never be to suppress the protestor. Rather the goal should be to suppress the feeling of insignificance that causes one to protest. So yes, the solution truly is that simple and it doesn’t take anyone else to make it happen. The solution starts with each person, and simply a willingness for us all to succeed. Because success will all be achieved by all of us, and not by any one group of us. In the end, the most important words we all should remember have already been said.
“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.