I have put much thought into this topic over the last few weeks, and I think I am really able to speak from my heart about it. When I first thought about it, I was picturing the issues as things like affirmative action, abortion, or same sex marriages. After a lot of thinking though, I decided that these just werent the sorts of things that I would be willing to put my life on the line for.
The reason for this is that although important to many, they really dont affect me to the point of me risking my life to change how they work.
It may sound a bit selfish, but in order for MY life to be risked, the issue would have to affect me personally, and deeply enough to change my entire being and way of life. I just feel that some things, although important to some, are better handled by those that are affected by them that deeply.
Now this is just my personal view on it, although many prominent people thought otherwise, such as Martin Luther King Jr. In his Letter from a ! Birmingham Jail he spoke of the fact that we should stand up against any unjust law, whether it affects you or not. Due to the fact that issues like this werent important enough to me for risking my life, I decided it was best to think on the larger scale. It was from this that I decided what I would put my life on the line for. I feel that the Bill or Rights is the most important single document in the structure and operation of our country.
It gives us many rights not available in other places of the world, and it sets us apart from everyone else as the fairest, most open minded country in the world. This is why I have decided that any movement that is working to try and take away any of the rights on the Bill of Rights is worth putting my life on the line for, because it would compromise my entire way of life. Now, for purposes of keeping the length of this paper down, I have decided to focus my attention to the First Amendment rights, which read Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.. There are many different techniques that you could use, and that I would use to stand up for my convictions, but first and foremost, I would get involved at any level possible. Such examples of this would be a campus group or club (like the student government), and then work your way up from there. This way, you could get familiar with how it all works, and then when ready or strong enough, move your way to the next level, like a regional group, or a local headquarters for a political party sharing your views. On top of joining a group that shares your beliefs, the easiest thing can be done by sticking up for your beliefs on your own whenever the chance arises.
This can be done with something as simple as speaking up against someones comment in a conversation. In the case of Rosa Parks during the Civil Rights movement, she did something simple yet powerful by not giving up her seat on a bus to a white person. In her case she was just simply sitting in a seat, but it w! as more than that, it was her not putting up with what she felt was wrong. Something else that can be done at any level of activism is giving speeches. Speeches have been shown to be one of the most effective way of getting your point across, whether its the words I Have a Dream, or Four score and seven years ago, speeches can get across the most powerful messages eloquently and bring out emotions in people to get their attention for a certain cause. Although these of course arent the only forms of resistance, I feel that however you want to express your views, should be non-violent. People should not have to die in order to solve a problem, which is why I feel that speeches, and other non-violent forms of resistance are best. Just like we learned in elementary school, solving your problems with words rather then fists is always best, just like what was proven by the bus boycott in Montgomery Alabama.
By simply not riding the buses, the black community showed, in! a non-violent way, that they were sick of how they were treated . The Civil Rights movement isnt the only movement in history that helps show us effective ways of non-violent resistance. I feel that the whole era during the 60s dealing with Vietnam and other issues showed us some extremely effective ones as well. The main things that stand out in my mind of that time period are things like rallies, sit-ins, and marches. These were extremely effective due to the fact they that included a large number of people, and a multitude of different activities. For example, for a rally in Ann Arbor, John Lennon wrote a song named John Sinclair which talked about freeing a man from jail who was put away for ten years for selling two joints of marijuana to an undercover police officer. The main point of the protest was the fact that they felt he was jailed for an extremely minor crime, where as soldiers in Vietnam were effectively committing murder, and they were free. It helped draw a lot of attention to the cause and was completely non-violen! t. In the case of John Sinclair, the point was he was jailed for a small crime, where as soldiers were in Vietnam effectively committing murders, but were free. The main importance to this to me though, was that he got a lot of attention for the cause, but did it in a totally non-violent way, which like I have said before is the best way to do things.
Another interesting part about the Vietnam era was the new ways that were devised to express the views they had. The one that I am thinking about, and most people immediately think of today as the most famous happening in that time period, was Woodstock. The whole basis of it was that it was completely non-violent, and it was a huge festival showing peace and love. This has been the only concert of its kind to make such an impact for a cause like that. It was the original and to this day most famous concert in order to help fight for a cause. Now a day, there are a few different tours or concerts that help to fight for a cause, and I think that they all owe it to Woodstock for the original idea. Such examples of these types of concerts are the Tibetan Freedom Concert, or the Lilith Fair Tour, the causes of these being freeing Tibet from Chinese Rule, and Women in Music, respectively. This whole idea of doing something entirely new, and reaching many people, is the ! basis for my next point. I feel that in order for a movement to really make a splash it needs to have a few things. The first thing, it has to grab peoples attention. That is why I feel Martin Luther King was so effective at gaining respect.
His words got peoples attention immediately, and he knew how to get their emotions into their thoughts, which made them want to fight against racism. To this day his I Have a Dream speech is known as one of the most powerful speeches ever, and the reason for this was it got peoples attention, and they listen to every word he had to say. The next necessary component is you must reach a large group of people. An example of an issue not yet mentioned that was brought more attention due to the large amount of people it reached is the anti-drug campaign of a few years ago. I dont think there is a person in the country that hasnt seen the This is your brain on drugs commercials . It shows the impact that can be made just by reaching a large group of peop! le with one simple idea. The final important component in an effective movement is I feel the most important, and the basis for this entire paper.
By this I am saying that in order for people to want to follow you and respect what you stand for, you must be willing to do anything for the cause. Unless you can show that you are willing to do anything it takes, you will not gain any respect, because without proving yourself first, no one is going to back you up. Like in the book Coming of Age in Mississippi, although the Ku Klux Klan to burn down the house that she lived in, she continued to live their anyways, which gained her respect from her followers, for believing so much in her cause to put herself at risk. There were also other instances throughout history of this. One that comes to mind for me was done by Jackie Robinson, the first African American professional baseball player. He received death threats constantly and yet still showed up and played every day sh! owing he was not afraid of dying in order to get equal rights for African Americans in sports .
Now with all that stated, I have a new idea of an original technique to use to support a movement. To devise this idea I had to look at what I considered to be what it takes to make a difference. My idea is to put up banners and advertisements for the cause up on various high traffic websites, such as www.yahoo.com or www.aol.com. By doing this you fulfill the first requirement, because you could make the banner very colorful or animated to catch the viewers attention. It would also meet the second requirement because due to the fact that they would be on all the most popular websites, it would be seen by millions of people everyday. The third would only have to come into play if there were ever threats toward the person putting them up, or the sites showing them. If this did happen, then they would just have to stand up to the pressure and leave them there, or increase the number of them, to prove that they believe in what they preach, and arent afraid of threats. As you can see, there are causes which I would put my life on the line for, but the times I would are pretty specific. Through the years there have been many different ways that people have stood up to what they felt was wrong, and the most effective ones were non-violent.