Protesting has long been a resource for highlighting injustices or matters that many would like to ignore. It shines light on a presumed truth. I use “presumed” because what many see as the truth does not always fit other’s narratives. I can only speak from personal experience, but it seems when another protest pops up a shared thought is, “Another one?” While it seems protests have been on the up-and-up for several years, 2017-2018 felt like a never-ending year of protests, and the 2018-2019 year does not seem to be losing steam. One positive of protests is that it calls attention to important matters and brings people of shared interests together. The downside to protests is it highlights matters that are not important to everyone and sometimes includes bringing people together with the intent of causing harm or stifling progress.
It is not necessarily why people are protesting that stirs our melting pot; it is what people are protesting. School safety. Police brutality. Marriage rights. The right to choose. Gun violence. Women’s rights. LGBTQ+ rights. Equity. Racism. Immigration. Education. Sexual assaults. The president. If you say them fast enough it starts to follow the rhythm of Michael Jackson’s song They Don’t Care About Us; and that could be the overwhelming feeling of many protestors. “They” do not care. Someone, or some group, or some entity does not care about their concerns or fears.
Fear is an interesting emotion. During the darkest hours, it encourages people to stand still or to act. To stand with or stand against. Protesting is a great example of fear as a motivator. Watching people stand up for their rights, and the rights of others, will either cause people to do the same or question their place and the impact of these acts on their day-to-day lives.
Considering the potential to influence change, and its ongoing presence in media, more often I wonder if people have started to lose interest in protests. If messages are being lost. Unfortunately, I cannot answer that question, and quite honestly, I do not know who could. It is not one with a definitive answer. What I do know, is that the power of a message is in the actions of the people; and that their actions, along with the legitimacy of their concerns, ultimately decide how much others care and if their cause is worth caring for. Any cause has the ability to affect the sociopolitical climate. Some will care and some will not. Some will rally for change while others will push for things to stay the same. Whichever side people choose, it is almost certain that protests will continue to work as a means to an end. Exactly what the result will be is where the mystery lies.