With so many recent news articles highlighting the number of peaceful protests turning violent, along with the public's reaction of outrage towards these protesters and the government's reluctance to even bat an eyelid at these protester's demands, I think it's safe to say that at best, protesting seems to be going nowhere, fast. As it stands, protesting seems to exist as nothing more than a vicarious form of social change, allowing people to channel their fury and passion into something that gives them a sense of purpose and hopefulness.
To a large degree, I get it - there are some things in life that stir up so much pain, anger and passion that you feel as if you just have to do something to make a difference, even if you don't know what it is that you should actually be doing. And in this despair and confusion, we often turn to the thing that society has been turning to for centuries. Protests.
But because society has been protesting throughout history, over time, those in power have become better equipped and organized at handling these protests. However, society's protesters don't seem to have followed the same evolutionary development.
Let's picture the scenario in terms of medicine or antibiotics; if our body has a virus and we continue to take the same weak dosage of medication to fight that virus, eventually the virus becomes immune to the antibiotics and is able to fight off the medicine with ease. The only way to then defeat that virus is to increase the dosage or to change the medicine altogether. But protesters don't seem to be able to do this. In fact, it seems as if society's protesting skills are becoming increasingly chaotic, weaker, less organized and generally less effective. Which is why it seems that the only thing left is to find an alternative medicine; An alternative form of protest.
A Recurring Nightmare
See, each time people protest, they're making a stand against that particular complaint. So even if that particular protest is successful (which is rarely the case), there's always another one waiting to happen just around the corner anyway. Because when we live within a system that causes continuous discontent among it's citizens, the problems are destined to continue.
This is partly why I see protests in the same way that I see pain killers. In the sense that, they temporarily get rid of the symptoms or ease the pain, but they never eradicate the root of the problem. And unless the problem is properly seen to, it will just keep coming back.
Which is why we need to heal society's issues by nurturing society's roots.
Now, I'm not claiming to know where to find the formula to over night world peace, but I'm really not convinced that it can be found in protesting either - or at least protesting alone.
An Alternative Medicine
I feel that society needs to get into the habit of acknowledging the root cause of each problem, rather than simply looking at the problem in isolation. We need to acknowledge that every societal issue is connected by a loose thread that is attached to a messed up system. And judging by the calls to boycott certain companies and institutes, it seems that people are beginning to understand this. But unfortunately people still fail to realise that the system is too intricately connected for the boycotting of a few stores to really have any significant impact. So until we realise just how deeply and intricately connected society's issues are, society will continue to cause the same heartbreaking symptoms, leaving us no closer to finding a cure.
The sad thing is, I'm not saying anything new here, I'm merely echoing the lost and forgotten thoughts of many great leaders, thinkers and social scientists that have been trying to educate people for decades. But it seems that our emotional natures stop us from seeing the reality of the situation.
A Final Thought
If each of the thousands or even millions of people taking part in these protests decided to educate themselves on the structure of society, understand basic psychology, exercise sociological imagination and acknowledge the painful truth that many of the day to day activities that we take for granted are actually contributing to the world's problems - maybe then we will start to see the change that we so desperately envisage. I feel that real change will only begin to occur when we refrain from the urge to become a part-time activist that sinks back into a passive everyday mindset as soon as the 'hype' dies down.
And more importantly, I feel that real change will only begin to manifest when we operate from a place of compassion for all societal issues and not just those which effect our personal struggles or those of our own cultural identity.
I really feel that society would do well to stop begging the same system that's busy creating the mess to help to clear it up. Because history has shown that even if that 'help' is temporarily granted, it won't be long until there's another wound to tend to. The way forward is to create a society that is capable of self healing. And a society capable of self healing needs to be well educated and equipped with a good first aid kit.
...A first aid kit containing knowledge, wisdom and the power to use it.