Sunday, August 10, 2008

Protesters of the world, unite

There has always seemed, at least to me, to be something terribly wrong with people who protest about things which are of little consequence to themselves, i.e. animal rights protesters, minimum wage laws, human rights abuses abroad, etc.

It isn't that I find protesting pointless and absurd... because I don't. It's that I find half-hearted protesting to be pointless and absurd. If you are going to protest then you should go all out when doing it. Put your heart and soul and life into it; risk your life or your property or your liberty or all three. Most protesters protest as a hobby, getting out and waving signs about some issue that means everything to them for a couple hours a week or month. The issues are purely ones of vanity, designed to give them a sense of moral superiority and their lives a veneer of meaning. They risk very little and change even less. 

"What are you doing to change the world?" They ask so arrogantly. 

"Nothing less than you," I usually respond.

Such behavior can often lead to overreaching and these olympics have brought the fools out in force. French rioters attacking a paraplegic bearer of the olympic flame or protesters flying to China in order to roll on the ground in a Tibetan flag. What is the purpose of this? Is it really to make a difference? Do these people really think that a nation that causally murdered hundreds of its students is going to listen to a handful of petty protesters?

No. Of course not. The point of most protests is the self-indulgent desire to feel that they are part of something bigger than themselves, without the work and effort of truly being so. It is sham and a fraud and it doesn't deserve any respect.

Most of these protests have nothing to do with the stated cause. They aren't really going to help animals, free Tibet, or stop wars for diamonds because doing so is difficult and often life-threatening. The only thing they are doing is trying to artificially give meaning to their lives by attaching themselves to an international cause. It doesn't matter that they will have no effect, and possibly diminish the issue. All that matters to them is the warm, fuzzy feeling of being together, fighting for the  downtrodden in a cause that's "real". They can  then return home to their "empty, consumeristic middle-class" that they despise. That same life that affords them the both luxury to fight for real change, rather than merely surviving, as well as self-indulgent exercises in futile vanity like most protests.

What most protesters do is a farce, an insult, and a disservice to the people who live with oppression, violence, and suffering every day. Are you really showing "solidarity" with political prisoners in Tibet by waving a sign a few times a week? Somehow I doubt it...

What should they do? Do I expect middle-class Americans to fight in foreign wars, etc? Not unless they really care that much, but if that's the case then they are probably already there. I just want people to fight for what matters to them. How about protecting liberty and freedom in your own town? Or cleaning up a local river? Or helping the suffering in your own city? By focusing on a distant issue that a person can't really affect, it gives that person a false sense of achievement and thusly depriving that person the opportunity to make a real difference in someone's life or in their community.

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