This is what political protest looks like in a civilized society where respect and commitment to peaceful resolution of conflict exist.
The women counter workers at Woolworth staged a sit-in strike for better wages and conditions. And won.
This is a picture of peaceful protest at the Woolworth lunch counter demanding the rights of blacks to sit at the counter:
With time, courage, and commitment, they won.
This is a temper tantrum:
I want to point out the difference to you. I want you to know what gets results and what emotionally immature people try to do in order to get their way. I want you to understand the commitment required to actually make real and necessary change in the world and how it differs from being temporarily inconvenienced and wanting to get your way through an impotent show of emotions.
I see a hell of a lot of protest and “resistance” lately, and it looks a lot more like a temper tantrum than a commitment to actual change.
Perhaps it was punk rock and the establishment support it received. An entire generation was taught that legitimate resistance could be expressed in primal emotion that was as much about personal expression as it was about ideas.
How has that worked out for you? What improvements have you made by emotional outbursts or crudeness? What good has rage and lack of civility and cocking off gotten any movement anywhere at any time?
Whatever success attained through emotional rather than disciplined, thoughtful, and self-sacrificing resistance has been more on the surface than in depth. It has been built on shaky foundations and the process of undermining was immediately begun. It has led use down the path of delusion rather than the path to progress.
To achieve progress, you must clearly demonstrate you have the moral high ground. Any movement for peace, justice, or equality will never succeed through force or hatred. Nothing positive will come from such tactics. Force will not change people’s perceptions, it will only reinforce force as the only real agent of change. And force will always devolve into injustice, inequality, and violence.
There is another way, but it requires appealing to people’s better nature, not their baser one. If you want to draw a clear distinction between your cause and the forces that oppose it, you had better treat that cause with the respect it deserves. You had better act with dignity for the cause, and that must include a larger respect for universal values. You must align your cause with all that is good and healthy in the world. To do that you must show respect to those who oppose you. You must demonstrate in your own behavior what you expect from others.
I have shared images of serious protest. Perhaps I have given the wrong impression by implying that intelligent protests led by deeply held convictions is an easy thing. It’s not. When you want to effect change, real change, there will be resistance. People comfortable with the status quo are not going to lightly permit change, even if the change is right or will lead to a better world for all. That’s just the way people are, they grow comfortable with how things are even if things aren’t very good. People, like sheep, are skittish. They are most comfortable when in the fold.
When you commit yourself to change, to progress, there is backlash. Here we see what people had to endure in order to upset the apple cart:
Those who fear change will seek to provoke you. They will try to drag you down to their level. You must resist such provocations, because if you don't you will have lost the cause you purport to stand for. You step down from your position of moral authority, which is your greatest defense. It is like leaving a castle on a hill to come down to face your enemy on his own terms.
Of course, the sort of resistance that makes real change will require sacrifice and work. That, more than anything, is why we resort to emotional gestures, rudeness, and violence. It is because we are not eager for the commitment involved. Because we are lazy, or basically satisfied, or lack a true adult approach to life, we convince ourselves to act out as a way of achieving change. It has worked before, in small ways, in immediate but superficial ways. But like a child who gets his way through such outbursts, it is not healthy for us in the long term. In the end, we will need to take an adult approach to politics and social concerns if we are ever to make a better society. This will require such adult concepts as dignity, commitment, sacrifice, rising above petty squabbles, and seeing beyond the immediate distractions to a long-term goal. It will require us not becoming distracted by what those forces resistant to change try to confuse us with. It will require coming together despite our differences, because the change we wish to make is not only desirable but necessary.