Protest Sympathy

Boy, has Facebook and Twitter and most of America blown up over this whole protesting thing.    I have a theory.

I’m willing to bet that the bulk of those who are mad as hell at the anthem being disrespected haven’t protested much in their life, if at all.

The entire premise behind protesting (let’s all assume from here on out that I always refer to protesting as peaceful, because I do) is to be able to speak our mind about a perceived injustice, and to do so without legal repercussions.   I can stand on a street corner all day long claiming that being forced to wear a seat belt takes away my freedom to choose otherwise, and I won’t get arrested.  Free speech, baby.

It’s empowering to protest. But here’s the thing:  In order to be motivated enough for us to get out of our comfy house and protest, the injustice must be felt acutely by an individual.

There’s no reason to protest if I don’t feel my rights are threatened.  If I am white and have a cross bumper sticker on my car, I pretty much don’t feel like any of my rights are being threatened.  I can walk into any store and get what I need without being watched for fear I would steal something.  If my tail light is out and I am stopped, I know fairly certainly that I will have a friendly exchange with a police officer, probably get a fix-it ticket and be on my merry way.  I can go to the church of my choice.  I can submit an application to a job and be judged solely upon my qualifications, not my skin color.  Life is good!   I experience no threat to my freedom, what is there to protest?

Here’s the chink in the armor:  If I haven’t had to protest, I don’t have the capacity to understand someone who has.   I can’t fathom what could be so unjust in the world that I would need to publicly state my frustration in order to bring about change.   I can’t imagine why I would need to waste my energy marching when I don’t have any challenges in life.

This whole ‘take a knee’ gig has a lot of people fuming, I think, because they can’t understand that someone feels an injustice deep enough to speak out against it by protesting since they’ve not done so themselves. They have no point of reference for public dissent because they’ve never experienced a curtailment of their freedom. It’s entirely lost on them why such a seemingly drastic action needs to take place since they’ve not been challenged themselves in a manner that requires a similar action.

Protesting a social injustice is as American as the flag and the Fourth of July.   But engaging in the activity requires reaching a level of discomfort that, fortunately, many haven’t reached in our society.  Therefore, there’s little understanding or sympathy of the motivation behind the behavior, and lots of judgement instead.

Peace today to each of you….we need it.




About Frankie Wallace

Frankie earned her BA in History from CSU Chico. Her writing includes current events as well as self published fiction and a children's book she is publishing. She lives in northern California with one husband, two dogs, and three boys. Frankie is an avid cooker, reader, hiker, and napper.
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