Some say that protests don’t work and I would agree that when a protest happens you don’t see an immediate change to the situation in question. I think a protest is like the beginning of a forest fire. It starts as a quiet, smoking smolder and if it’s not doused it can turn into a brightly burning flame. When something’s on fire, people pay attention.
Protests bring a situation to people’s attention. The Civil Rights Movement brought racism to people’s attention and those who were in positions of power began to do something about it. The problem still exists, but things are better now than they used to be. Change, even change brought about by a single catastrophic event, comes slowly.
The Occupy movement highlighted a fact that we have always known; there are ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ in this country, and the ‘haves’ got where they are by climbing on the backs of the ‘have-nots.’ This is a fact of life that we’ve always just accepted, but we’ve only muttered about it under our breaths. After all we didn’t want to sound like a bunch of Communists.
I don’t know that these protests can ever really cause change because I think we need the government to step in and force the big corporations to play fair. But because the corporations have so much influence over our politicians it’s likely that won’t really happen. There will be some legislation to make things better but the corporations will find ways to get around them.
So I started out saying that protests are somewhat effective, but as I write this I realize that deep down I feel a real hopelessness. I think that for some, participating in a protest gives them hope.
There’s no point in going on without hope so you have to find it wherever you can.