The Inefficacy of Protest

Protests. They happen everywhere, and they happen constantly. With action in Syria looming, last week saw more than its fair share of vigils, marches, and sit-ins. In the aftermath of a peace deal, it may seem that this type of protest has proven its worth once again. Yet, I cannot help but feel uneasy when I think of the mind-set behind these mass gatherings. I fear that it is all too easy to act in the negative. Too easy to stop an action or to yell about something wrong, than it is to take a positive action which could more easily change the world.

The idea behind protest is this. We feel that there are many things wrong in the world, and that all we need to do to fix them is voice the injustice. We too often mistake marches and speeches for change, and the expression of our anger as an action. Yet, we take no real action to fix the wrongs that we see.

I complain about the environment, and then I drive my car to Food Lion. I complain about racism, and then do nothing to change it. I talk about the importance of education, and then avoid schools and children as if they will give me the plague, and I am not alone.

I have often voiced my outrage about the state of education in the U.S. If I stand in Court Square and hold a sign, I can possibly make a difference. If I tutor a child for an hour I will make a difference. Now multiply this by all the members of a protest event. Imagine 1,000 people not protesting but doing. This applies to everything that you are passionate about. Instead of gathering to vent your frustration about the environment, U.S. policy, poverty, education, or civil rights, go find a way to change them. There is no issue that is so big that it cannot be impacted by work on an individual level.

Protests are great, but without action behind them, they will always fall short of achieving change in a practical way. So, the next time you see injustice, do not just make noise about it, find a way to change it. Instead of saying no to war, find an organization that says yes to peace. Instead of protesting the government programs that you hate, find ways to support the ones that you love. Instead of complaining about education, help a teacher.

As people receiving a college education, we have unique skills and abilities. It is time that we stop wasting these abilities by screaming about the world’s problems, and time that we start addressing the things that we want to change. Ask about opportunities for change that involve more than talking. If you look hard enough they should not be hard to find.

-David Yoder, Co-Editor In Chief


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