Watching what’s happening around the world and how we view protests, why it is in the west we support protests like the Arab Spring, or civil disobedience and protests in Hong Kong. We support protests in China when they imprison entire groups in society, or the police mowing down protesters in Myanmar. Canadians in large numbers support the demonstrators against racial hatred south of the border as well.
Someone said to me the other day the reason is because we are a just people and there may be some truth to that. But hang on a second. Before we just assume let’s look at the other side of the page. We will also find a large helping of double standard, and huge dose of hypocrisy.
Protest is not the issue. Western societies improvements and advances were conceived and successfully achieved through the avenue of demonstration and protest intermingled with acts of civil disobedience. Strikes, lockouts and the courts also played a major role in progress over time in our history.
Why is it that we support what is happening elsewhere but at home we often condemn the same actions used by activists?
Personally I believe many factors play a role in formulating our individual and collective attitudes. More often than not it is dependent on our political vent, our conceptualized vision of logic or what we believe is logical. The most important factor we often ignore is our emotional reaction to a given situation. Emotion often changes opinions during a fluid situation in real time.
Whether it’s a major strike or lockout or a land claims blockade or civil disobedient behavior, we make snap decisions as to which party is right or wrong. The problem is the truth is often buried in a mountain of details the average person does not have the time or access to. We are unaware of promises made or even signed onto by governments, corporations and or authorities in charge of events in the past. One of the main problems stem from “In Perpetuity” agreements. These were not long term agreements, they are forever agreements. They are legally still valid today. We often forget that or choose to ignore it but in these cases it does not diminish the fact they are binding.
All too often we are quick to judge and react based on actions without evaluating how certain actions build to a straw that broke the camels back. For some reason in our changing society we forget, ignore or deliberately defy protocols and procedures and respect for other peoples traditions and cultural practices. These avenues are the defined lines of respect for peoples beliefs, and feelings. Once one side or another has insulted their opposites it is hard to come to a consensus.
One of the biggest problems is the general public forms an opinion based on a half version of the facts. Next time there is a major issue ask the this question.
“Why is it I support a group in China fighting for their rights and yet in this country I say to heck with those protesters.” and in many cases we do that even before we have all the facts.
If we are going to make progress we have to engage our mouths and our minds. Remember in an open society change evolves. Change by force or change by suppression aside from consequences in real time it eventually fails and falters but in the end change comes.
As individual citizens we do influence change around us. The key is to inform ourselves as to fact and fiction and make choices based on more than emotion. In witnessing the shortcomings of others in other countries we have a chance to avoid the mistakes made. It should also be noted, not every strike, lockout, protest or demonstration is a just one. It is up to us to know the difference by making ourselves aware.
This is not to say we shouldn’t support those struggling for freedom, democracy and justice around the world. The best way to do that is to demonstrate we live up to the same principals at home.