Protest: an instrument of change

New to the world of blogging, I have only just begun putting my thoughts into form for the public forum to witness. Yet today of all days, I find myself reading the daily prompt and something tells me to write if for no other reason than for me. This makes my fifth post.

A daily prompt on writing was offered through The Daily Post with today’s prompt being “Protest“. It is a term I find very powerful in it’s simplicity and complexity, in its multi-layered facets that sparkle or dim like a gem depending on how it’s twisted and turned and how it’s viewed from the outside looking in. It is a term easily manipulated with many ways to infer it’s meaning but in recent days it has meant more to me than any other time. I find I am not alone in this struggle to find a voice in a forum where many have long stayed silent, stepping away from the spotlight so others more boisterous ourselves could speak.

There is a form of silent protest that has lived within me throughout my childhood, throughout my young adulthood and even into my thirties. I was talkative, but felt uncomfortable speaking of my own viewpoints, hyper-aware and concerned for the perspectives of others, protective of my own perceptions and fearful of judgement. It wasn’t until I reached forty that I began to truly want my voice heard. Maybe it’s my experiences that have given me insight into the consequences of inaction or maybe it’s my standing silent at times where each voice might have counted. I have seen the result when the culture of silence permeates throughout the country for fear of repercussions, for fear of being alienated. I have felt the quiet voice rumbling inside, longing to finally break free, no longer afraid, no longer willing to sacrifice my ability to have my voice heard.

Protest, for me, is the voice that needs to be heard when moral and ethical boundaries are broken. It is not an avenue to reciprocate the injustices invoked on others, but as an instrument to be utilized in making change, in bringing awareness to the world, and in educating people of the wrongs (and rights) that bring people together to form a united front against or for a cause. It is showing others who feel the same that they are not alone.

I recall one instance several years ago where I went to the beach to protest oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico with a group called Hands Across the Sand. This was prior to the oil spill that devastated the region. I brought my younger brother along, who has Down Syndrome. He loves animals and I explained to him the reason for the protest, to protect marine life. He was excited to be there until he saw the news crews and how many people were lined up across the beach. He became visibly upset and refused to stand with the group. Our later conversation revealed his concern for breaking the law and he was afraid of being arrested. It was a peaceful protest but through his eyes, eyes that only understood what was projected in the media, protesting was wrong. There was no distinction between a peaceful and violent protest simply because the media only showed protests when there was violence. It was a reminder of what is defined and ingrained in the minds of our youth who are educated through social media today.

Protest is not a dirty word. Protesting is not a form of revolt and it is not an avenue to act out your anger and frustrations. It can be seen, much like religion or politics, as a tool to reflect our beliefs in a productive and informed approach. However, it can easily be utilized and manipulated by people for their own purposes and benefits. This is  the protest I choose to reflect on and believe fully in its capability of initiating change.

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