It’s often easy to forget that some of the battles we fight today didn’t begin yesterday, or with the advent of the mass social media. Some of them began forty years ago in a period of counter-cultural explosion, where civil disobedience was just that and protests weren’t always organised in advance with the cooperation of the police. Some of the battles we fight today began with riots, with the backlash of a people pushed too far by government mandated discrimination.
Some of the battles began with the Stonewall riots.
It bothers me that we forget history so easily — the Stonewall riots, like so much else, have passed into social obscurity as time wears on. It doesn’t take long, either — the outrage over Proposition 8 has gradually retreated into the background; the injustice is still recent for thousands of people, yet the public no longer care. Eventually, the next big battle in this culture war will come to a head, and we’ll all look on, and cheer — and jeer — but next year we’ll have left the victims in the past again, even as they pass us every day on the street.
I’m no better, of course. But I want to be — and if we can make the civil rights movement a reality for a public weaned on Today Tonight and A Current Affair (where news is supplanted by cross promotion) then maybe when we take to the polls politicians will take notice.
If you want to make a stand for civil rights but feel too small, remember that you can start small. Start by changing the minds of the people around you. Take the five most apathetic members of your family or social group, find a copy of Stonewall Uprising and sit down to watch it with them. Take them to the cinema if it gets a theatrical release near you. Track down a copy of 8: The Mormon Proposition and get them to watch that too. And then get them to do the same, until there’s no one left to show.
Remember that we’re fighting a war for civil rights, and the most powerful weapon we could ask for is the voting public. We don’t win this just by making noise — we win this by raising consciousness, everyday, among our colleagues and peers. We win battles by changing minds, and you can change minds everyday just by not staying silent. A solitary person with a good idea will only stay lonely if he doesn’t share it.
Make a noise, and change your perspective: You can make a difference.