I love a good protest. Despite my objections of America and its administration, both past and present, I get all star-spangled goosey when I think about the democratic process. I love that we’re guaranteed the ability to openly criticize our government and our leaders. I love the idea that people from all walks of life unite to fight for what they believe. And I love that they’re constantly occurring. Protests have always been in the news, but in the last two weeks, it seems protests and demonstrations have been absolutely everywhere. And for good reason.
I’ve taken part in a few large-scale protests in my life. There’s something about coming together with hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of like-minded people fighting for threatened freedoms that pulls at my heart. Like I said earlier this week, a lot of white people have gotten a wake-up call that their rights, and rights of those they love, may actually be at stake. Before, it was easy to leave the demonstrating to the marginalized groups that stood to benefit anything from them. I cry at every rally I attend. My heart swells, the tears well up, and for the first few minutes, I’m too overwhelmed to talk. There’s really nothing like it, and it makes me very proud, both of American citizens and democracy as a whole.
Large-scale protests aren’t the only form of dissent, though. The most public, sure, but certainly not the only way. I’ve read articles from a few people whose paralyzing anxiety prohibited them from safely standing with a large crowd. I hate that for them (as someone afflicted with a more mild form of anxiety, I can very literally feel their pain), but these people found different ways to stage their own personal protest (see here). They wrote letters and made phone calls and got involved with the operations side of demonstrations. They cared for their families and were purposefully kind of strangers. They did their parts.
This idea of a personal, private protest popped in my head earlier in the week, when I was sitting in traffic behind a giant, growling truck with a “Hillary for Prison 2016” bumper sticker peeling off the tailgate. I’ve been listening to Rachel Platten’s Fight Song twice a day for about two weeks, once on my morning commute and once during my afternoon commute. It may sound ridiculous (I’m almost certain it does), but it’s my small, fist-pumping reminder to keep making noise, regardless of how it weighs on me or how little I am on my own. Sitting behind that truck, listening to that song, I took a quick Snapchat video, and that’s when it hit me.
We can all have our own meaningful personal protests. Even if no one else can hear it.
My personal protest?
♥ Listening to my song twice a day (and quietly muttering, f*ck yeah afterward)
♥ Blasting Beyonce’s Girls when I’m at a stoplight, instead of turning it down for the people at the intersection.
♥ Quietly reading and learning and asking for help when I don’t understand (which is often, if we’re being honest).
♥ Volunteering my time for those who may be affected by poor legislation, even if it isn’t political in nature.
Is it silly and ultimately meaningless to the end game? Well, sure, to anyone on the outside looking in, I’m quite positive it is. But it keeps my head and my heart in the right places. It’s hard to ignore millions of people uniting to voice the same idea, but advocacy has many layers, and it’s easy to overlook details in the quest for the big picture. There’s a gaggle of need in your own community who can benefit from your assistance.
Wanna do some volunteering? Here are some people who could always use your help.
- Special Olympics
- The Humane Society
- Habitat for Humanity
- Boys & Girls Clubs of America
- Your local library
**If you’re in Northwest Arkansas, go sign up to volunteer for the Special Olympics Polar Bear Plunge next weekend (Saturday, February 11) and let’s hang out.
There’s more than marching. You can make a change by simply opening your mind and giving some time to someone else. Even if it’s something you do for yourself — if it helps you stay in the right place and gives you motivation to keep fighting — it’s part of the protest movement. Take care of yourself, kittens. There’s a lot of fighting left. Give it hell in whatever way you can.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.