Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thursday's Thoughts: The Power of Protest

Today I'm going a little off the subject of writing to talk about something that is really important to me. That is the Power of Protest. The last couple of weeks, the media has indulged itself in the protests that have FINALLY come over the corruption and greed that has manifested and ingrained itself in Wall Street, and the fact that 2% of the population in the United States holds the wealth of this country in their money-grubbing hands.

For the last couple of years, I have ranted and raved ( just ask my husband, he'll tell you!) about the sad complaisance of the American people who are allowing this country to be driven into the ground by incompetent governing...specifically the last administration. I have asked over and over, rhetorically, of course, WHY people, especially the young people, can't get up off their rears, stop watching the boob tube, stop playing video games and texting, and DO SOMETHING! Don't they realize the POWER OF PROTEST? Apparently not.

So let's go back to the early 1960s for a moment. Many of you who read my blog weren't even born then, but that's okay... maybe you need an education into what protesting can do. The 1960s Protests were NOT all about the VietNam War... those came later in the '60s and the early '70s. The early 60s protests were about some of the most important elements in American society which were still frozen in the 19th Century.

Those elements were about RIGHTS. They began with Student Rights to Free Speech.  This concerned the right of students belonging to different political groups to have their meetings on campus, and to speak freely in newsletters and on the open Commons grounds about their beliefs. They won.

Then there Women's Rights. They, too, began with the rights of women on college campuses to cohabitate with their boyfriends. It seems that most of the college Deans thought it was their responsibility to determine the sexual activity of women, but men could do as they pleased. After protest signs, marches, newsletters, etc., women were given the same rights on campuses around the country as men.  But it didn't stop at the college. Protests began all over the country about women's rights in the work place,  equal pay for equal work, the home, in schools as teachers, and everywhere else that women played a role.  They won, too.

Protest marches began on Washington, DC, protesting for Civil Rights. Do you remember the four African Americans who went into a restaurant only for "white people" and staged a sit-down? Do you remember a woman by the name of Rosa Parks? Do you remember the first African American students allowed to enter an all-white school, and who had to do so under the protection of the National Guard? Perhaps not, but all of these incidents came about because of the POWER OF PROTEST, and led to the greater Civil Rights of all minority people in the US.

Protest songs became the hit version of the "Hot List" today. Bob Dylan's Blowin' In The Wind, a song of protest against the VietNam War; Sam Cooke's A Change Is Gonna Come, about Civil Rights for African Americans; Pete Seegar's Turn! Turn! Turn!, whose lyrics were taken from passages in the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible; and his most iconic song, and one of the most powerful songs ever written, We Shall Overcome. And we can't forget the songs of Jimi Hendrix and Joan Baez, Buffy Sainte-Marie, and many others.

Any time any one of their many songs is sung, it invokes memories of the many hundreds, and often thousands, of men and women who stood together, holding hands, and facing the barrage of police dogs, tear gas,  and fire hoses in order to hold true to their beliefs about the wrongs of this society, and in the Power of Protest.

Protest marches, signs, songs, meetings, all came together in the 1960s and '70s to convince the American government that the time for change had come, and it was NOW.  Not in six months or a year, not when the next administration took office, it was NOW. The POWER OF PROTEST took effect, and change began...slowly, to be sure, but it began and it began at once.

Are you satisfied with the condition of our country today? Are you at all concerned about the fact that the country is on the verge of bankruptcy; that our schools are letting teachers by the hundreds go because of state budget cuts... what is this going to do to teachers trying to educate 40 and 50 students in one class, when it was difficult enough with 30? There are too many things wrong with our society today to even think of listing them, but you know them as well as I do. But one of the main things to be concerned about is the children of today: those who are homeless, who can't go to school because the district requires a permanent residence address, who are starving because their parents have no jobs and no money... starving in a country that was once the richest in the world. Wall Street and the millionaires have become the monsters of our society. These are only a few of the societal ills which infect all of us.

So where have the protesters gone? Where are the signs, the marches, the letters and newsletters of protest? Where are the PROTEST SONGS? I'm not young enough to be involved in this any more ( I once was, however), but if you will do your research, you will see that the power of protest is the only thing that is going to turn this country around. It has worked in the past, it WILL work in the present. The Power of Protest is still as viable and influential today as it was fifty-some years ago, but it has to be applied.

To bring this rant back to writing, think about what it would do for all of us if the economy blossomed again. More publishing houses would get back on their feet; more editors would be hired; more agents would have more money to hire assistants and first readers;  and WE could sell more of our work, and get paid better money.

Think about it.

Until next time,
That's a wrap.

No comments:

Post a Comment