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A few months ago while on sabbatical I asked my daughter Dana a question. “I’m worried about so many things that our government is doing or not doing,” I explained. “What’s the best way to help? How should I make a difference? What should I do?”

I was dreaming about maybe getting a job in Washington, or working for a campaign, or using my skills and experience someplace important. Her answer came back swift and decisive. “Dad. Protest!”

Basically, in other words, go be a body in the street and count for something you believe in.

She explained how it’s well documented that if just 3.5% of any population take to the streets, political change results. More than any other means, this is how to get politicians to actually change policies. This is based on research by Erica Chenoweth. Check out this article about her findings.

It applies to countries but also to towns and even companies and other groups. If you can get 3.5% of the people to walk in unity, you can make change.

I’m not talking about violent protest; that’s not me. And in fact, Chenoweth’s research shows that violent protest is significantly less effective than peaceful protest. Here’s her article about that.

Is violent protest ever justified? That was the topic of a Make Shift Coffee House where the guests included a Police Chief, Black Lives Matter protesters, and a Somali immigrant. It was a fascinating discussion. View it here if interested. For whatever it’s worth, in that discussion, a strong case was made that violent protest is sometimes justified.

I’m simply saying that peaceful protest is always okay. And it works.

3 thoughts on “Protest

  1. I’m agreeing with what your daughter is saying & forced Medical Mandates is not Ok with me. You are in Brunswick & how do you get a Group of people to go & March in the streets? I live in Portland & have no car. What do you mean by Website?

  2. Thank you Craig for this insightful message. I have taken part in protests from Augusta to DC and have always wondered if they have any impact. One thing that I would add is that a benefit of a peaceful protest is the wonderful people so you meet. Many of the protesters are people who care as much as much as I do about the cause of the protest. The energy of a positive and peaceful gathering leaves me certain that there is hope.

  3. I appreciate this post, Craig. I am SO far out of my comfort zone in public protests, but have done so twice. First was in DC about eight years ago with my daughter and a busload of other Mainers, and second was in Augusta just four years ago with lots of women wearing pink pussy hats. Still not comfortable with it, but it’s good to know these actions do make a difference, and are worth the discomfort.

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