With the jump in worldwide protests, I think it’s a fair question to ask. It’s pretty clear that the Toronto Sun, FOX News, and every bigwig from Dalton McGuinty to Rob Ford carries a huge hard-on for these people, but more importantly, there are a lot of regular folks who jump on the bandwagon.
Let’s get one thing straight. Protesting is not new. Whether we’re talking about bread riots in the Middle Ages or the Civil Rights Marches, the masses have been doing this as a way to get the attention of their betters for forever. Fact is, protests have led to all sorts of things we take for granted in our tidy little corner of the north. I’m getting at minimum wage, civil rights, and the right to vote, just to name a few. It’s not like kings and queens woke up one morning and decided to give these things to their loyal subjects. These were fought for, beginning with a simple yell and a fist-pump.
Failing protest, we’d still have things like the Chinese Head Tax, slavery, and who knows what else.
So when did we decide that protesting was irksome? Furthermore, when did we stop caring?
In the world of social action, protesting is like the weird kid wearing horn-rims and sporting the velcro shoes. Everyone avoids him, but when he becomes CEO of Microsoft, everybody’s singing his praises.
Ain’t it the truth though?
People avoid protests like the plague, but when they just so happen to produce real and lasting change, suddenly they’re the toast of the town. Everyone relishes in their newfound freedoms, the protest is romanticized, and suddenly every guy and his dog is relating where he was the day X happened. La la la and on and on…
Let’s not forget that generations afterwards, the progeny of these protesters condemn the same kind of social action while sitting on the couch with a video game controller in hand, as if we’ve somehow reached some sort of happy medium in civilization as a whole.
I can tell you honestly that a billion people from Bolivia to Mozambique would beg to differ.
Worse is how the very entities that produce protest-worthy conditions take the concept of social action and flip it, leading to all sorts of bogus charities and social movements. Take charity walks and runs for various issues like violence against women or, the biggest one, wait for it… CANCER.
What the hell has that word come to mean any more? Am I to understand that after more than 30 years of research, we still don’t have a cure for this? Or could it be that there’s way too much money to be made off the pain and suffering of millions of people to adequately address this? I haven’t even touched on the billion and one contributors to cancer. Things like cigarette smoke, fast food, and air pollution.
I digress. Point is, people have to think twice about what they’re throwing money at. That’s basically what we do these days, right? Throw money at problems? Instead of picking ourselves up, walking over to the nearest shelter and donating a few hours of our time, we drop a couple of 20s and feel all lit up inside.
Take a closer look at the businesses organizing these charities. Could it be that the investment bank running for CANCER has also invested in the tar sands, tobacco companies, and genetically modified cows? So then basically what we’ve got going on is an effort to alleviate cancer just enough to keep people alive, all the while pumping the same toxins into our air and our veins that produced the problem in the first place.
The solution lies not in how much money we can shove down the throats of starving children, but how much we can change the way things get done. How can we do this?
Well, protesting’s a start, especially when political channels are closed off to all but the richest in society.
Nobody will ever concede that protesting and social change are flip sides of the same coin, but I think many will agree to the domino analogy. Start knocking them down and we’ll see what happens.
Now this is no scientific constant, but it’s fairly obvious that protesters don’t picket for themselves. They’re doing it for you! Regardless of what car you drive, you stand to benefit from what these dreamers are proposing. I’m not even sure that analogy applies, given that three quarters of the world has no hope of ever owning a car in their lifetime.
Let’s demonize these people! Bunch of no-good slackers living in their parents’ houses, right?
Last I checked, more than half of university grads still live at home, and half of those don’t have meaningful employment. Those conditions would get anybody P.O.’d.
The question then becomes, who’s a suitable candidate for protest? I guarantee that some half-digested rationale would manifest itself regardless.
So, Joe can’t protest because he’s young and unemployed? He s
hould dye his green hair back to brown and get a job, just like all us hard-working sops.
How about Jill? She’s barred from rioting because she’s a former Wall St. trader. She’s taken advantage of the system at every turn. She’s got no right to put down the very system that’s enriched her.
Who’s left? Nancy, the middle-class housewife? No way. She’s got it good. The system works fine for her.
The thing is, you’ve got protesters
of all stripes speaking out about good things. Things that have to be changed lest we destroy our planet and ourselves in the process.
So who has a problem with protesting?
Photo courtesty of David Shankbone (http://www.flickr.com/photos/shankbone/)