Policy and Protest

Protesting is a noble effort, but at what point do protest demonstrators cross the proverbial line? Earlier this week a group of 200 New Zealand protesters stood blocking the entrance of a building where an annual oil and gas conference was scheduled. The protesters prevented attendees from entering the premises until the police were forced to become involved. Even then, the picket blockade wouldn’t move, causing police officers to resort to gentle force in order to get the building open. Three members ended up in cuffs for assault and obstruction.

And despite some protesters offering statements like “the conference hasn’t been able to start so we’ve done our job, we’re winning” in the end the oil and gas executives did have their meeting. If these renewable supporters considered their success a factor of how long they obstructed a conference, it may be time to reconsider why protesting is useful. And here’s a hint: it’s not as a tool for deliberate obstruction of your so called “enemy’s” schedules.

Talking about protesting in America is impossible without mentioning one of the greatest protest leaders of the modern era, the memorable Martin Luther King Jr. A man who changed a nation through the use of peaceful protest despite the harm and unfair treatment that had been inflicted upon him and other African Americans for centuries. His life is a perfect example of how a righteous cause will still be heard by hostile ears. He returned the hostility thrown at him and many others with the simple request of holding a conversation.

And it is with this conversation that he convinced a country of the wrongs they had committed. Conversation begets understanding. Not obstruction or denial.

So please, if you’re passionate about a cause, share that passion through your words. They are the best tools to convincing someone of anything contrary to what they already believe. And if your talk rings true, you’ll be surprised at how quickly former enemies can become staunch friends.

Written by: Chris Stomberg

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