Tuesday, July 21, 2015
My Problem with Protest
I read that Patti Smith concluded a recent concert with a powerful protest song. And immediately I said to myself that the song won't achieve anything. And I began counting down why I hate protest: it over-simplifies and dichotomizes; it feeds feelings of self-righteousness; it stokes instead of sublimating anger. But then I recalled that Occupy Wall Street, which I had no desire whatsoever to join, actually changed the conversation in America around income inequality, with even Republicans paying some lip service now, and with fast food and retail workers nationwide striking and demanding living wages. And then, in a flash, I saw that my problem was with myself and the feeling I have that, even though protest isn't my thing, I still have an obligation be out there. I mean I do believe that injustice exists and that all of us should do something about it. Short version: I've been guilt-tripping myself. So today I say, let others do the confronting, because confronting is part of the solution, just not my part. Me, I'll continue to write and try to trigger some slow subterranean movement, some shifting of tectonic plates. And maybe some gentle awakening that will happen in ways and times that none of us can predict. It takes every kind of confrontation, right?