The significance of peaceful civil disobedience

Dec 08 2008 Published by under Featured News

Please keep this in mind as you read through my article. A window company in Chicago decided to lay off its entire workforce due to financial issues. The large group of former employees decided to storm the business and are now refusing to leave until their demands are met. When this news first broke the first thing that came to many, as observed through my diligent evesdropping, was how the building must be in shambles now, and completely trashed. This tidbit of info may not make sense now, but just wait, it will come together. Now onto the rest of my op-ed.

One need not be a scholar of American history to come to a very obvious trait of the culture of America. Americans have very, very bad tempers, especially in situations in which their rights and well being , whether intentionally or unintentionally, are threatened or trampled upon. Granted many other countries have seen their share of riots, public executions, and Bastille re-enactments, however the anger and rage of Americans were often like a lit fuse on a powder keg.

When the end of the fuse is reached, one can expect an explosive and extremely unprejudice level of destruction in response. This is not to say that this apparent diviation from civilized behavior is a bad thing; as a matter of fact I would credit this as a reason the Republic has managed to live on for as long as it did. Further, the violent reaction to certain events were often qwelled and quieted shortly after the menace that created the problem was soundly beaten into a gooey, unrecognizable pulp.

At times this qwelling came from the dissent of others, cooler heads, and common sense reasoning, but it was assured that within a short time after the danger had past the country was saved from purpetual violence and rioting on the matter.

One can hardly doubt that the fuse of the American people has been lit once again with the recession, the lies, the wars, the loss of civil liberties, the inflation, and the absolute political division which carries truly no merit. I, for one, can hardly doubt that the American people are reaching the end of that fuse rapidly and we are getting closer than we have in quite some time to that powder keg again. However, present day America is a far away land from the America that we once had.

Our entire soceity has shifted in such a way that the American people are generally viewed as animals by certain castes and classes. The American people are greedy and destitute. A people who don’t know what is truly best for the country. Hell it is a remarkable find if one runs across an American with the common sense to care for themselves responsibly. We have lost a great deal of control over our society and country, and instead have adopted a degrading view of ourselves as merely civilian rather than Citizen.

This is not entirely our fault, however, as we have been referred to as such, directly and indirectly, by police, representatives, presidents, senators, military commanders, news anchors, TV shows, and even mall rent-a-cops. This change is fundamental in scope with regards of why a riot, a disruptive demonstration, or even an act of self-defense takes place and who is invloved. One cannot defend one’s home without hours of questioning by police, and this, often times, might even lead to a court date. Backtalking, protests, and the like are viewed as unpatrioting, anti-American, or traitorous, which means even your fellow Citizens won’t come to your defense or aid.

In the eyes of this particular society, one is considered guilty until proven innocent. So, as we near the end of many ropes in this country, I feel it necessary to promote a method of protest that must prevail in this country should it survive the turmoil that seems to be building up steam as we approach the new year and the new packaging entering the White House; peaceful civil disobedience.

It must be recognized that when society turns its back on a particular group of people, even if those people are their own, and a government is mercilessly enacting law after law of oppressive and theiving legislation, that in recent history those who are viewed as the monsters in the end are those who lose the battle. Racial and ethnic oppression of the early and mid twentith century met with riots and violence acheived many things, and of those were stricter laws, tougher police oppression, and a re-affirmation of the public’s view of those who were actually the victims of such oppression as animalistic and undeserving wretches. When the opposite was practiced, the oppressors became the monsters in the eyes of the public, as they attempted to maintain the control over the people. A movement is created, unity grows exponentially, and the benefits received from the control over the people become non-existant.

Mahatmah Gandhi, a barrister (lawyer) of South Africa, adopted a way of life and thinking that changed the entire nation of India, and brought the British Empire’s tyranny to a screeching halt. Through peaceful resistance to oppression, and standing firmly as the oppressors attempted to beat him back into place, he brought about a movement that eventually chased Britian out of India and gained a country its sovereignty.

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., living in a society that viewed the freed black man as a radically, childish, violent and over-sexed animal, completely changed the view of that society in general, simply by not complying, and not fighting fire with fire. As the television cameras rolled, and peaceful demonstrators were attacked with dogs, firehoses, firebombs and the like, the monsters were no long the black men and women but those who sought to beat them back down.

Peaceful resistance is far from doing nothing, as some may contend. It is perhaps the most disciplined, empowered, and couragous action one can take against oppression and ill-placed control. By standing one’s ground, speaking the truth, redressing your grievances, and letting your voice be heard, one conquers a monster without becoming one.

To finish this article, I will tell you the rest of the story of the Chicago plant employees. The employees are currently protesting within the plant, refusing to leave. However their demands are far from unreasonable, and their actions far from violent. As they are waiting for the company to continue operations for the final 57 days required before closure and their severence, as promised by their mutual contract, they are caring for the building. They are clearing snow, they are upkeeping equipment, and they are cleaning the plant from top to bottom. These former employees are showing the pride and loyalty they expect to receive from the company they had partnership with, and are doing nothing harm the building which they credit for their living. See how that works? Take care everybody, stand your ground, and “be the change you want to see in the world” (Gandhi).

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