Viewpoint: In protest


Does protesting really benefit us?

Walter Bond is a vegan. He believes in a cruelty free lifestyle toward animals by refraining from the use of any animal product.

I may not agree with him, but those are his beliefs. I think he’s free to eat (or not eat) whatever he wishes.

Walter Bond is also a criminal. He doesn’t appear to believe in a cruelty free lifestyle toward humans by refraining from use of any human violence.

Somewhere there’s a misconnect.

As reported in the Salt Lake Tribune, Bond recently pleaded guilty for criminal charges as a result of his form of protest.

He didn’t picket, he didn’t write letters to the mayor. Bond decided the best way to convince people of the importance of protecting animals involved burning three buildings whose survival depended on animal byproducts.

In April 2010 Bond set fire to a Sheepskin Factory in Denver. Not long after in June Bond protested again by burning the Tandy Leather Factory in Salt Lake City. Just a month later, he struck again in Sandy at Tiburon Fine Dining.

This isn’t protest, it’s madness.

Cases like Bond’s happen more often than you’d think. People like him take their beliefs, which they rightfully have, and thrust them upon others in cruel, almost twisted, ways.

Do they think their radical actions convince people to change their minds?

Did Bond believe the world would look at these burning buildings and immediately surrender their chicken for chickpeas?

Instead of working for their cause, they fight against it — often undoing years of foundational work in a few minutes of thoughtless extremism.

Personally, I have nothing against protest. When done in the right places at the right times, peaceful protesters have changed the world.

If you need an example, look no further than Mahatma Gandhi. Though not all his practices may fall under what we would consider a moral life, Gandhi understood the importance of peaceful protest.

He did not burn buildings or attack individuals to get his point across. He lived his life as an example, gathered people together and lived with  deep-rooted courage.

This is not madness, it’s protest.

I think sometimes we forget we can catch more bees with honey than vinegar.

We think the phrase is old, tired and cliché, so we ignore it.

Writing it off doesn’t make it any less true. We will do more for our causes if we peacefully convince rather than personally harass.

Take the yarn bombers, for example. Those who yarn bomb aren’t all united under one cause, but some use it as a form of protest.

Instead of destroying public property to get their point across, they beautify it. Subway trains, park benches and bike racks have all been “victims” of the yarn bombers.

Once covered with fluffy knitted creations, these everyday items turn into citywide conversation pieces, and nobody is hurt in the process.

In fact, people laugh, smile and think fondly on the protestors, complimenting their ingenuity and style.

Isn’t this a better reaction than hate for hate?

Wouldn’t people be more willing to sympathize with your cause if they smiled while thinking of it?

It may be too late for Walter Bond to change, but don’t get yourself caught in the same mess. Protest away, it’s your right (when not on a private university’s campus), but do it kindly, inventively.

And remember, warm fires breed hostility, but warm fuzzies breed smiles.

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