January twentieth was the inauguration day of the United State's forty-fifth president, Donald Trump. This event was well televised over many networks, and the coverage lasted all day. Many speakers presided over this event, and even Hillary Clinton and former president Bill Clinton attended in a show of solidarity for the new president. Arguably the most common, shared feeling that the American people gained from this event was the process of a peaceful transition of power.
However, not everyone made the inauguration day a peaceful day. It seems that if any current event involves the peaceful, Democratic transition of power, individuals will cause destruction. The destruction that received the most airtime was the vandalism of a Starbucks and a Bank of America. An article from the Blaze states, "Rioters set fire to newsstands and trash cans in the middle of some D.C. streets, while others lit car fires, smashed business windows, and injured police officers." This article also states that 217 people were arrested on inauguration day and face charges for rioting.
I assume that in both parties, a majority of people view violent, destructive protesters as a nuisance to the democratic process. They accomplish nothing besides disrupting the lives of American people and earning themselves time in the back of a police car. I hope that the people who destroyed cars, burned trash cans, and looted stores earn themselves felony charges and spend time in jail. If their way of life was everyone's way of life, we would live in anarchy. Nobody would be safe, and an election would be the last thing on anybody's mind because people would be busy making sure nobody robbed or attacked them.
I have seen the mark that violence leaves on a community. A few years ago, I stayed in San Francisco and visited Berkeley by way of the BART with some friends. The time of our Berkeley visit coincided with the events of the 2014 riots. Being college students, my friends and I enjoyed the beautiful Berkeley campus, but we also saw the effects of riots that left a scar on the community. Windows of local shops were broken and boarded up due to the rioters. This left an eerie, dark feeling over the town.
I knew that the peaceful streets that I walked on were previously a crowded area of violence and mob mentality. Today, I could not remember why the riots occurred in the first place. After looking them up, I found that the 2014 Berkeley riots were apparently a response against police brutality and that mobs took over. The lasting effect that I feel by viewing their aftermath is not one of progressive change for the good of American people, but instead, I feel uneasy for the people living in the United States who would use a political movement to pursue their own malicious intent.
Here is a link to a video showing the Berkeley 2014 Riots that accurately depicts the frightening actions of rioters.
Looking back at my experience with protests has given me a perspective on the protest known as the Women's March that was conducted on the twenty-first of January and continues today. This march declares that it held for women's rights, the right for women's wage equality, women's safety, ethnic equality, feminism, and anti-police violence among a list of other issues they for which they are marching. Their list of issues listed on their website (link provided above) are:
- Principle 1: Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people. It is a positive force confronting the forces of injustice and utilizes the righteous indignation and spiritual, emotional, and intellectual capabilities of people as the vital force for change and reconciliation.
- Principle 2: The Beloved Community is the framework for the future. The nonviolent concept is an overall effort to achieve a reconciled world by raising the level of relationships among people to a height where justice prevails and persons attain their full human potential.
- Principle 3: Attack forces of evil, not persons doing evil. The nonviolent approach helps one analyze the fundamental conditions, policies, and practices of the conflict rather than reacting to one’s opponents or their personalities.
- Principle 4: Accept suffering without retaliation for the sake of the cause to achieve our goal. Self-chosen suffering is redemptive and helps the movement grow in a spiritual as well as a humanitarian dimension. The moral authority of voluntary suffering for a goal communicates the concern to one’s own friends and community as well as to the opponent.
- Principle 5: Avoid internal violence of the spirit as well as external physical violence. The nonviolent attitude permeates all aspects of the campaign. It provides a mirror type reflection of the reality of the condition to one’s opponent and the community at large. Specific activities must be designed to maintain a high level of spirit and morale during a nonviolent campaign.
All of these principals listed seem like positive guidelines. However, it seems like what they are conducting a march for is something that a majority of Americans from all walks of life enjoy. As a matter of fact, the United States of America is governed by the Constitution. The Constitution declares under the Fourteenth Amendment that:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Citizens of the United States are all subject to and protected by the Constitution and the Fourteenth Amendment. Also, protesters partaking in the Women's March are advocating for equal rights. It seems redundant that people are fighting for change to promote equality, but the law for the country where they live already demands equality. It seems that the Women's March is not a protest, but instead, it is a celebration of the equality provided to citizens of the United States by the Constitution.
An internet search will not provide any reports of violence or riots resulting from the Women's March. This is evidence that the principals of their march are followed by the people participating in the event. Time will tell the impact of this monumental march.
As one who has witnessed the violence that all Americans viewing the news over the last several years can surmise, there is a high chance of violence during these protests. That is not because of the principals of the Women's March, but it is because there are criminals hiding behind the peaceful protesters who seek to rob, destroy, and deprive citizens of the United States of the rights the Constitution provides them. It is because I can see the danger in all protests that I do not partake in them and I do not advise partaking in them.
I often question people who picket to make a difference rather than put their time into something that makes an immediate difference. Hundreds of thousands of people picking up a piece of trash each would make the United States a much better place immediately than hundreds of thousands of people blocking public streets to protest rights they already possess. If people committed to passing out meals to the homeless, they would do better to provide peace to those who are less fortunate.
As far as women's rights is concerned, I am fully aware of organizations that protect women deprived of their rights. In Fresno, the Marjaree Mason Center and the Evangel Home are two safe havens provided to women and their children who are affected by homelessness, domestic violence, and substance abuse problems. Hundreds of thousands of people donating their time to charitable organizations like this would lave a more immediate and positive impact than the picketing is occurring today. Also, volunteering for charities like these ensures that those who seek violence cannot seek shelter among peaceful protesters in the streets.
I urge my readers to seek an endgame for any action they pursue. They must ask themselves how the world will change if they protest. Consider if holding a sign makes a bigger difference than donating a coat or passing out a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich. We live in a society with more freedom than a vast majority of other individuals enjoy, and we must use our freedoms to make a better world today. Violence and destruction will not leave the world as a better place. Compassion in action will change the world.