Next Wednesday, we’ll gather to observe the second anniversary of the Moral Monday protests in Raleigh. I figure this is a good time to reflect on why we protest.
A week after the last election, a television reporter asked me how I felt now that I realized all our protests had been for nothing, since the Democrats didn’t win back control of the state legislature.
I reminded her that the US Revolution didn’t happen in a single election cycle, that the Civil Rights Movement of the mid-20th century didn’t happen in a single election cycle, that women’s suffrage didn’t happen in a single election cycle, and that I am in this battle for the long haul.
We did manage to educate voters, and here in Buncombe County, we sent two Republicans home and replaced them with legislators who will do the work we want and not bow to Art Pope (NC’s own Koch) or Duke Energy.
It took a lot of work to get Brian Turner and John Ager elected and send home Tim Moffitt and Nathan Ramsey. If we had sat around and believed that protests don’t matter, that each of us can’t make a difference, we would still have those two men in office.
Change never happens overnight. It takes lots of work from lots of people, and those of us who protest see ourselves as educators as well as rabble-rousers.
Someone posted on Facebook this morning that she protested because she’s in love with the earth and all its beauty. I responded that I protest because I will always love my son, who died from deliberate medical neglect, and I want everyone to have access to decent health care.
But, as I told a reporter who asked why I joined a group that might “water down” my health care message, I see health care as part of a tapestry of justice issues. You can pull out my thread and fix it, but we still have poverty, low-wage jobs, poor worker rights, voting rights issues, environmental issues and attacks on education.
The right has attacked all of these things for 40 years and whittled away at our well being as a society, bit by bit.
We have to stand up to our attackers or we will be a third-world country ruled by a tiny but incredibly wealthy and powerful elite. We’re headed there faster than you might think.
Already, a college education is out of reach of most Americans unless students are willing to be indebted for the rest of their lives.
All the decent wage jobs that pulled most of us up in the middle of the 20th century, thanks to unions, have been shipped overseas and replaced with low-wage jobs that keep people indebted and unable to protest their working conditions.
Meanwhile, we are embroiled in endless wars and conflicts around the world to keep feeding the gigantic maw of our military industrial complex.
Women are finding it more and more difficult to gain access to affordable birth control and when we get pregnant and know we can’t afford to bring another life into the world, we are denied access to safe and legal abortions.
We are still paid less than men for the same work and criticized for being “aggressive” when we act like leaders. We are bossy or bitchy when we stand up for ourselves.
When my society is unjust and its laws immoral, I will protest. I will face arrest, if necessary.
I am one person. I may or may not be able to make change by myself, but I certainly can if I am joined by enough people who are willing to face down our unjust ruling class.