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So….you want to protest?

Protesting is everyone’s right. We can protest in many different ways.

Protesting is everyone’s right. We can protest in many different ways. We can protest by writing letters in the media, to our elected officials, all the way to the governor general, prime minister, premiers of any province in our country, mayors, city councillors, to the general public through letters to the editors of online or print media, through social media, and so on. Usually, we are taught to protest by following the chain of command even at our workplaces. Generally speaking, you will get a response. Try it.

However, in our day-to-day life, we generally see protests where any number of people get together and raise their arms and voices or even in some instances, block roads and so on. They are generally peaceful. People make their point and then go about their business. That is the way it should happen in any given educated and well-informed society with a good sense of civic responsibility.

Protesting is not about scoring points. What bothers me the most, especially in the age of social media, is that we have developed a habit of bashing people or a particular group in public, on social media, calling people names, mocking them with ill-speaking stickers on the cars and trucks, etc. Do you really think that is healthy? I came to Canada in 1987 and usually did not see any of this. Of course, there was no social media at that time. But having very loose and easy access to social media does not mean that we throw away our integrity, responsibility, and ethical behaviors. That does not mean we start calling names to the people that we disagree with. There is so much negativity these days, especially on social media.

So here is my protest against you, negativity-guided folks. Please write letters to whoever you don’t like or you disagree with. Or at least tell people why you don’t like them or something they have done or a particular policy of theirs or a certain stand they have taken on an issue. They may not respond to you, but at least you have got it off your chest and have exercised a healthy way of protesting. Or even write a few words telling people why you did not like someone or their policy or stand. That may lead to a healthy debate. If you engage them in a positive way, I am confident that they will respond positively, sooner or later.

While protesting, we often take sides. And that is okay too. But do remember there are usually two sides to a story. There are and there will be people who may disagree with you too. And they have the right to disagree and protest as well. But that does not make them bad or make you good or vice versa.

In the last few months, we have seen protests around the conflict in the Middle East. Why can’t we point out the atrocities committed by both sides and take the side of people who suffered before and are suffering now on both sides of the conflict? That will be a healthier way to protest with a sense of civic responsibility. Perhaps others will follow that as well, and we may work towards a global civil society with fewer conflicts. So please do protest but keep your own civic and social responsibility in mind.