Written by Dorian Johnson
How do people change the minds of those in power through protest? People have done two things, peaceful protests and violent protests, but which one has been most successful in changing a decision made by someone above them? There have been many violent and peaceful protests in the history of the world. Many people believe that violence is the only way to really change a decision made by governments in power. They believe that using words and marching isn't enough, they say you must use force for real change. Peaceful protesters believe using words and walking down the streets of the higher power and showing them how many people disagree with the decision made by them. Violent protesters believe that you must use force to make a substantial change in the higher power, and that demonstrating anger and violence might have more of an impact on the people who are above the protesters.
There have been many peaceful protests that have changed a system or law or governments decision. Some examples of peaceful protests that made a difference are, The Salt March, The Lady In White, The Flint Sit In, The Birmingham Bus Boycott, The March On Washington and The Unknown Rebel. All of these examples have impacted the higher power to actually change something and make it better for the protesters. There have also been many leaders to encourage the civilians to protest in civil and peaceful ways. Some of the most famous that have done this are, Martin Luther King Jr and Mahatma Gandhi. These two people encourage that people stand up for their rights in peaceful ways. Some quotes from both of these men from Martin Luther King Jr, “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend” and from Gandhi, “Non-Violence is the greatest at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man”. The message they are trying to put out there is not to use violence, but to use words to change the minds of the higher power. I believe what they are trying to say is that you can't stop violence or injustice with violence, it is not possible because it just creates more. They believe there is nothing more powerful that non-violence...Period.
Violent protests are terrifying. There have been so many. Thousands have been badly injured and even died over history. It is almost like a war between the civilians and the police or a group vandals. Its almost like war on live television, but why do people act this way? Is this behavior justified or not? Well after researching I have tried to find the reason of this behavior and if it is justified or not. I found something very obvious to everyone, this behavior comes straight from anger and outrage with the higher power and their decision or rules. I also found that the people who act violently have been out there so long before the decision is made by the higher power just peacefully protesting, and when someone has protested peacefully that long trying to show the higher power that they are wrong and that they need to do something about the problem and then the higher power decides against the protesters, they of course get mad and outraged about the higher powers decision and they start to get violent and things just start to escalate from there. An example of a violent protest is the Soweto Uprising. This protest was for a good cause but it got out of control very quickly. What the children from south african schools protested for was they believed they deserved the same education that the white children were receiving because the black children were getting set up in a education of labor while the whites were getting set up for successful jobs. While the black children were protesting there was pushing between a cop and a teen and thats what started the bottle throwing from the children then came the shots from the police. 176 people were killed during the protests over a long period of time. In the end the rule of education was changed in south africa and both blacks and whites receive equal education. The question is if this was more successful than peaceful protests even though they lost 176 people doing this. Many people will say you have to lose people to get what you want changed. This kind of thing happens even so long ago from the american revolution. What they said is that you have to risk your life for freedom and thats what they did and thousands were lost but it was still a success.
In the end I believe that peaceful protests might be more effective because it shows a race, community, group or world coming together basically saying you can't push us around so were going to voice out disagreement with you. Successful peaceful protests can damage the higher power without using violence, like the bus boycott. What the Birmingham Bus Boycott did to the higher power was damaging them financially because a group would refuse to ride that bus so they didn't get any money, so they had to change the rule of the bus allowing blacks to sit where they want. It is hard for people not to use violence to voice their opinion because they have such rage and anger and only be able to march and sing and voice your disagreement just with words but if you hold it in and be patient that the higher power will give up and change something because they would never let this go on forever but the protesters will.
In conclusion it has come to me that peaceful protests are the answer. Violence does nothing but injure, kill and devastate people. The only time I believe you should have to use violence in the middle of a protest is when you are about to be attacked. There are so many ways that a person can do something to peacefully protest. One is strike a business or march the streets putting your opinion out there by using signs or singing or doing chants with a crowd. But I do believe sometimes violence is necessary, throughout history people have used violence to be free from a higher power. An example is the american revolution in 1775, that long ago people used violence to voice their opinion and take what belonged to them. But in the end peaceful protests are the answer because that is how you avoid pain and suffering.