Yesterday I blogged about the recent GLBT Equality March on Washington, DC. My overall thesis was: Activism that ‘actually accomplishes something’ has to look different in today’s culture. Why? Because:
Marches don’t work and make no impact
Protests don’t do anything except get more people to hate you
Yelling or holding signs gets you looked at like as nothing more than an a sad medium of entertainment, like a zoo animal to be poked and laughed at
Fighting, debating and split screened arguments on TV all have a reverse effect than getting both sides out there (or, if I’m being honest, are actually accomplishing their intended goal of perpetuating the entertaining “sound bite culture” watching two people go back and forth about nothing other than their own agenda, which no one listens to anyway)
A few hours of any activism makes no difference to anyone except the people who planned and participated in it—and that does not change national policy because it’s not sustainable
When was the last time a march on Washington changed governmental law? I can’t remember one in my lifetime (I was born Dec 16, 1980). By most historical accounts the last large group gathering in Washington, DC that directly led to a change in the law was August 28, 1963—the single defining moment of the Civil Rights Movement where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I have a dream speech.” Has anyone noticed that was 16,848 days ago!? 46 years have passed and people still think large gatherings and marches make an impact. They don’t—and haven’t for four decades.
In fact, before MLK Jr’s speech at the Lincoln Memorial, some historians note that the previous protest that actually worked was the Boston Tea Party on May 10, 1773! (This does not count the Civil War fought from 1861-1865 that claimed over 623,000 lives, eventually leading to the legal abolition of slavery). The Boston Tea Party was 86,353 days and 236 years ago. Not one single person on the Earth today was even close to being alive when that happened. Yet somehow protests are still a great idea? They’re not. And from my vantage point, people who want to protest only want to cause a ruckus and not effect actual change—therefore making them not worth while. If people wanted actual change they would work a whole lot harder behind the scenes to quietly, peacefully and productively build key relationships with governmental influencers and leaders who can tangibly implement change.
Anyone want to take a wild guess on the previous successful event before that? Martin Luther’s posting of his 95 Theses on October 31, 1517. A total of 179,682 days and 592 years ago—and that was just one man who had no idea he would start a Reformation to last the next 500 years.
At 28 years old I am considered Generation Y. Culturally then, it makes no sense to me how the Boomers and Generation X (who, due to their ages, are rightly the one’s in “power” now) are still trying to lead the curve in a new culture filled with new personalities, by still trying to do what they did decades ago. Renaming something doesn’t make it innovative. Their old tactics aren’t effective because they’re trying to do it through an outdated medium (and no, unlike many pundits, I don’t think Barack Obama’s email campaign was innovative. You’re telling me promoting thoughts through email is something new?) The problem that many leaders today face is that their Movements will never grow or impart change because they’re not willing to restructure the public medium they’re comfortable with. But even those ‘comfy’ mediums in the activism world never worked—only three times in the past 600 years. Based on historical averages alone, another large group activist gathering won’t work until the year 2163. Maybe we should start planning now to make it really impactful?
The well-known definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Enough said. Those insane traditional mediums of activism can’t work.
There is my case why the current system of activism doesn’t work, and tomorrow I will delve into a new paradigm of activism for this post-modern 21st Century culture moving forward.