A few months ago while on sabbatical I asked my daughter Dana a question. “I’m worried about so many things that our government is doing or not doing,” I explained. “What’s the best way to help? How should I make a difference? What should I do?”
I was dreaming about maybe getting a job in Washington, or working for a campaign, or using my skills and experience someplace important. Her answer came back swift and decisive. “Dad. Protest!”
Basically, in other words, go be a body in the street and count for something you believe in.
She explained how it’s well documented that if just 3.5% of any population take to the streets, political change results. More than any other means, this is how to get politicians to actually change policies. This is based on research by Erica Chenoweth. Check out this article about her findings.
It applies to countries but also to towns and even companies and other groups. If you can get 3.5% of the people to walk in unity, you can make change.
I’m not talking about violent protest; that’s not me. And in fact, Chenoweth’s research shows that violent protest is significantly less effective than peaceful protest. Here’s her article about that.
Is violent protest ever justified? That was the topic of a Make Shift Coffee House where the guests included a Police Chief, Black Lives Matter protesters, and a Somali immigrant. It was a fascinating discussion. View it here if interested. For whatever it’s worth, in that discussion, a strong case was made that violent protest is sometimes justified.
I’m simply saying that peaceful protest is always okay. And it works.