Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Rebel With A Cause

It seems that whenever there is an international conference going on somewhere in this world (APEC, G-8 etc), the most dreaded (and anticipated) part of it is inevitably the protests, be it peaceful or forceful. But I often wonder the degree of their effectiveness. If it works and serves its purpose, why do we need so much of them and why does it occur over and over again? Is the way they are doing it that's causing all the wrong impressions on protesting?

Standing up and saying what you want in a dignified way ought to be the road to choose but I often hear that it's not the path that gets the attention. When you do things peacefully, you are taken as meek and not potent enough to fight your cause. Hurrmmm.. I don't think Gandhi was viewed as weak but instead, he was revolutionary when he fronted the British Empire and his fellow countrymen with a plea for everything to be done in peace. But then again, it's fair enough for someone to jump up right now and consume me with the fact that he was later shot by a fellow Brahmin for his "revolutionary" ways. History recalls that some of his counterparts who he must have slipped into believing had him gone for the very reason of him being too tolerant and not aggressive enough but it still didn't stop Pakistan from leaving India.

Although a few others were fairly successful like the Tienanmen Square protests (who can forget the image of one man standing against the army of tanks?) and Vietnam War protests, a lot other fails to open people's eyes about the real situation and causes. In a way, not many people want to be associated with violence and that route certainly creates some degree of detachment from the supposedly "fighting-for-the-people" organisations.

So does the cause permits you to choose any way possible to get your voice heard? I remember the biggest stunt pulled off by an organisation here is Sydney was painting "STOP WAR" on the Sydney Opera House's roof in blood red paint. They didn't get away with it easily as both of the men involved were fined with AUD200k each but in due time, they become known and their objective was achieved when people starting listening. Some might argue that they were only mere attention seekers and that they went overboard but does it matter much when in the end, they've achieved their purpose? Indirectly, it also raises the question of insufficient platforms for people to get their voice heard. I mean, of course a few bucket of paint would cost less than airing advertisements on primetime when people just flip channels to watch something more useful anyway. Plus, not everyone has the taxpayers money like the government ;p

In a slightly more subtle but no less "aggressive" manner, we have people posing nude for what they believe is a campaign for championing certain rights. For example, the ads for PETA campaigns. I mean, some of us don't even remember what the ads are for but we tend to remember who was nude (Christy Turlington, Alicia Silverstone etc). So does it work then or PETA is just another organisation that exploits human for animals? (God, the irony of it!). Wanting people to turn and look at you might be hard enough for some but when it becomes too easy, people do not remember you for reasons you want them to... I'm not saying that all of their campaigns are wrong but having nudity to promote an idea does seem a little vulgar although I understand that this value is very much influenced by my personal values and that the ad might work for some other target audience.

So is it just the perception of it or a certain amount of aggressiveness does really get things going? It's amazing how people want others to believe in their values and way of life so bad that they resort to some unthinkable measures.Well, it striked me because this idea doesn't resonate with the whole concept of humanity in the first place but humanity is a symbol of man wanting to be the same and equal. Do we all want to? One thing I know for sure, all these protesters have an aim to achieve and sometimes, it can mean pushing the envelope to see how far it goes.

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