The United States was founded outed of protest. The first European settlers had often been religiously persecuted and the risk of making a months long ocean crossing, carving out a place to live, and weathering the harshness of the New World was worth it just to have a voice.
Americans have been resolving our differences through protest ever since. We have a proud tradition of dissent. It may be in the town hall, at the board of education, or arm in arm marching down the streets of America. As a result of protest, change has come. Abolitionists helped to end slavery, early 20th century women protested and gained the right to vote, Cox’s Army, WWI veterans, marched and camped on Washington to demand the benefits they were promised, youth from my generation stood up against the Viet Nam War, feminists stood up for a woman’s right to choose and burned our bras in an attempt to gain equality with men. Martin Luther King led peaceful dissent to promote equality for blacks in the US in the mid 20th century. He lost his life as a result of his activism.
Whether you agree with the protesters, our right to protest is protected by the 1st amendment to the Constitution. Opposing sides may disagree about everything except their right to voice their opinions.
So while it takes great courage to speak up mostly it is harder to get along. That is why most politicians rail against the opposition but never seek resolution. To negotiate, to listen to the other side comes with the acceptance that concessions will be made. BUT, that is why we hire these people. It is their job to resolve the difficult questions surround us, not to pontificate. Politics should not be a game with a winner and loser. It should be about the greater good. unfortunately, somewhere that has been lost. Gridlock, refusal to legislate, hear nominations, pass a budget is dereliction of duty and should be met with an equal response.
Leaders cannot have it only their way just because they have a majority. They need to listen to the public and to each other. They need to negotiate and compromise. Not quid pro quo but a fair deal, or they will have to expect protest.
Those people in the street feel they are not being heard. They feel that you have not represented them.
Do not ridicule or belittle them. Support them, ask your elected officials to hear them and meet with them. Also to that end, we must all become more active in our government. By going to meetings, contacting our Congressional leaders and expressing your concerns, voting and speaking up we will once again take back control of this country.
“Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men.”
― Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience and Other Essays