Protest

Every day while consuming my daily dose of media I come across news regarding some form of protests. For example – recent Minneapolis protests after ‘George Floyd’ incident, protests against the lockdown in the USA, Anti NRC-CAA protests in India, Protests to build a temple or mosque at someplace, protests by students, farmers, laborers against their respective institutes, protest against some movie because it hurt a group’s sentiments or the perpetual protests on issues like unemployment, hunger, Kashmir, etc. People are quick to label these protests as valid or invalid. I have an opinion on each one of these as well. But according to me, a peaceful protest should be always allowed whatever the cause might be, at the least in a democracy.

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Why does someone protest?

Protest – “a statement or action expressing disapproval of or objection to something”

We as a society follow certain norms, certain rules that help us function. There is an inherent understanding that everyone is going to hold their end of the deal. And whenever someone fails to hold that end, it creates dissent in the mind of other parties that are stakeholders in that issue. The concept is beautifully summed up by the following quote –
“...legitimacy is based on three things. First of all, the people who are asked to obey authority have to feel like they have a voice–that if they speak up, they will be heard. Second, the law has to be predictable. There has to be a reasonable expectation that the rules tomorrow are going to be roughly the same as the rules today. And third, the authority has to be fair. It can’t treat one group differently from another.
– Malcolm Gladwell, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants

Whenever these basic principles are broken, it gives a breeding ground to a protest. In my opinion, a protest should be a way to make yourself heard, to make the other party aware of the issue. It should be peaceful. They turn violent when the principles stated above get violated at different intervals and levels. The reasons like authority still not paying heed to the voices, a few anti-social elements taking advantage of the protest to enhance their agendas, etc. can turn the protest into a violent one. A few protests start as an act of revenge when the party affected is enraged by the harm done to them. But it creates a cycle of hatred. An unfair thing happens and someone gets hurt that sows the seeds of vengeance. Even if there’s justice in vengeance, it will only bring more vengeance that will trigger this cycle of hatred. If the principles are upheld by the parties at a later stage as well, this can be stopped. It should not become a tug of war for power in that equation. Equilibrium is the natural state that should be aspired and the power difference should move towards the equilibrium. Now, this equilibrium can only be achieved if the parties work towards repairing the damage and reconstructing those pillars that are providing the strength to the principles.

If the damage is not repaired, because of the inequitableness the less powerful group is bound to feel alienated and they may stop believing altogether in the norms.

As John F. Kennedy famously said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

 
Speaking about the neutrals, People have different opinions or reactions to these protests or sometimes they don’t care at all. For example, In India after the lockdown, when the migrant laborers were stuck in different states devoid of income and hence food, they wanted to go back to their home states. A lot of people set their journey on foot traveling thousands of miles when the government failed to provide them relief. A few protested in order to get themselves heard. There were videos circulating online showing these laborers doing wreckage of the property. We were condemning these actions and asking why these people can’t just stay put like us. But then there was a video of a little girl trying to wake her dead mother who passed away because of hunger on a railway platform. Had she reached her village a few days earlier, her life could have been saved. What I’m trying to say is that there is a clear lack of perspective among the neutrals. It’s generally present in the category of “haves” and “have nots”. To understand someone’s pain, you must know pain. And when we have never experienced that pain, we fail to acknowledge the pain of others. We don’t generally react or act unless something affects us personally. Most people weren’t really taking the pandemic seriously in the initial days. But try to ask people who lost their loved ones to this disease. Even as a third party, we should be informed about the issue from both sides before outrightly condemning or supporting a protest.

 

Do share your views.

 

14 thoughts on “Protest

  1. If our decision affect any one other than us, we need to consider the aftermath of it. We the privileged in India are affected by lock down but not to the extent as the ones those are roads. States and Centre should have thought about it in the first place while taking any such step.
    What I really feel is education is very important for any society and we really lack in good basic education.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree with you. India does lack basic things in a lot of areas.
      If that first step is a thoughtful one and people get the assurance that they are going to be taken care of, many things could have been avoided. Of course, it had to be followed by equally good on-ground implementation.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. For the privileged, covid crisis has been an inconvenience of some sort. It has been a pandemic for the poor. I genuinely believe the “haves” have been just grateful of what they have, i think all of the privileged ones in the nation has to be generous than grateful. I mean one can use their privilege for helping someone rather than being thankful of what they have/ have not. But everyone is just muttering prayers for all the good they have in life, rather than making someone deprived life’s better.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I feel like protests are somehow useless if the government really has a fixed mindset of not listening to its own people. It somehow depends on how the government or leaders are. And I guess that’s why the world is so fucked up now. Most leaders nowadays doesn’t really have the empathy and heart to help. They only run for power.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s where the concept of democracy kicks in. Where people can choose not to select such leaders in the next elections. It might happen that the protesting group is a minority and not able to influence the course of the elections, that’s why I urged the neutrals to be empathetic with them. Today if the minority is suffering, tomorrow it could be anyone.
      There’s a quote – “In a democracy, People get the government they deserve.”
      The leaders are in that position because a majority of us selected them and in a way they are an image of the majority of our society. So, in my view, the transformation is required at our level first and we’ll ultimately see the effect in the way we are governed.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. “To understand someone’s pain, you must know pain. And when we have never experienced that pain, we fail to acknowledge the pain of others.” So true, even if we have never experienced the pain that others may feel, it’s very important to empathize and ensure those in pain that you’re there and support them.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Protests! they are always associated with such negative connotations. A majority of them are. We come from a land of Mahatma Gandhi, the king of non-violent protests. While an Anna Hazare exists there also exists all those protests those went sideways, for instance, the recent Delhi incident over NRC-CAA.

    But what we all fail to understand is the beauty and the power these protests can lend to our voices. You’ve chosen king and queen in one of the images, it is the pawns who do the heavy ; lifting of all the decision making hence carries the voice it does.

    Violence being associated with protest has something to do with a mob mindset too, something I won’t divulge into. However, protest is the most primal of the instincts that us human as social being have imbibed. Democracy or not.

    Aman, I can imagine the impact the ongoing episodes must have had on you for you to pen down your thoughts. More power to you.

    You must write more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading, Anika. I appreciate you taking your time out to pen your views on the same.

      It’s such a vast topic and I just managed to graze the surface of it. You’re right about the pawns doing the most/all of the work in a protest. I used the click of pawns as the cover image and of the king and the queen in the post. I think at that point, I wanted to delve into personal protests as well but later restricted my post just to the public protests. A protest can be seen within a child at home against his/her parents, between a couple in a relationship or marriage, primarily in any form of dissent. 

      According to me, a protest should start a conversation. The conversation has to be followed by situational analysis and problem-solving. I won’t label any protest as valid/invalid because I think that part has to be deliberated in the analysis by the relevant stakeholders once the conversation has started. Because clearly, we may dismiss some of these as invalid or attach a negative connotation to them, but who knows they might have a point or reason to protest and hence we should always listen.

      I’m totally against a violent protest. Be it because of the mob mentality or rage or any other reason. It takes the point away from the solution and creates more problems. But as I mentioned, if the authorities start that conversation, it can be avoided. For example – In the recent George Floyd incident, the responsible officer wasn’t charged and arrested for 4 days, that’s when the protests turned violent in demand for his arrest. Communication is very important, in any form of protest, whether public or private. 

      As you mentioned Mahatama Gandhi, one of his quotes –  “An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind”

      Thank you again. It means a lot. I’ll try to keep writing. I’m just lazy.

      Liked by 1 person

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