In the Light of Theosophy
- Published: Thursday, 28 September 2017 10:57
[This article appeared in the August 2017 issue of The Theosophical Movement. For more articles published in this excellent magazine follow this link: [http://www.ultindia.org/previous_issues.html ]
Are we convinced that the placard-carrying people are unable to change anything? It is probably true, and yet protests do matter. Recently, thousands of citizens gathered in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and other towns across India to express their grief at the series of communal killings in the name of the cow. It was a typical “Not in My Name” protest, not backed by any political party or organization. When people gather in large groups, they may not necessarily succeed in bringing about any change. And yet, it makes individuals feel less alone. The sight of each other, the sense of common cause and strength in numbers can be exhilarating. The general feeling is that instead of sitting at home and criticizing, it is better to go out and make yourself heard. Malcolm Gladwell points out that while social-media-enabled networked protests spread with ease, they also evaporate more easily because of the lack of a clear leader and structure.
Apart from the therapeutic value for those who participate, what do public protests achieve? Why do some movements succeed while others flounder? It is not about the numbers, the diversity or energy of the protest, explains sociologist Zeynep Tufekci. It is a complex, intertwining dynamic between the protesters and the powerful, both trying to read each other’s signals. Among other things, a a movement’s success depends upon its capacities to set the narrative.
Every protest matters. “You do not fight because you know you will win, you do it because that is all that you can do at that moment,” says filmmaker Sanjay Kak. The indignation and involvement may not be sufficient to change the situation, but it is absolutely necessary. (Sunday Times of India, July 2, 2017)