There are plenty of reasons people shouldn’t generalize or label each other, but for the purpose of this article I’m going to focus on how it can hinder progress. A little over a month ago several members of our yellow vest group kept bringing up an event on February 23rd. Naturally I at first assumed it was our event but was later shown my error. A group called Roll Call had essentially issued a petition to stand at all capitals on this day. It was at this point that we began actually organizing our tandem event for the nations capital day. Contrary to things often seen in the news, we didn’t go to OPPOSE them or form counter-action over things we disagreed on. We are past the point in our nation and the world where we can spend time fighting each other over individual issues. We need all power to all people, and achieving this will absolutely take everyone.
We wanted to bring our mandates, or proposals to solve the list of what our grievances were with our government. I have known for a while that we all have more common ground than we think, but it seemed bold action would be needed if people too were to begin seeing if this might be true. At this rally of patriots we saw many people who vehemently advocated their desire for a border wall. Personally I don’t think a wall alone could solve the gravity of issues we face after doing research, but do agree we have a terribly dire situation. The first amendment protects our right to free thought and speech, and at this events instead of clashing both groups took this approach. We were able to engage in healthy discussions on both the border and many other things the night before at a social dinner. I found soon after meeting the people the night before the march that even though we may not see eye to eye on everything, these were American’s just like me who wanted change.
We heard ample speakers from their various groups in attendance, and I was given two opportunities to speak. We had shown some people copies of our mandates the night before with positive response, and again too at this rally we found on most other issues people had far less trouble agreeing on things. We had it set up to start at the capital and end at the White House with a march in between. It was further eye opening to see people who either called for a wall or praise our president likewise cry out to end hatred, or encourage all to come together. Many things that our media often implies or directly attempts to illustrate as the nature of a large group in our society seemed to be grossly mischaracterized and perhaps the real issue was that our media wasn’t transparent, and healthy discussion is far less common these days.
To further illustrate this, we even had to move our second location due to their being a bomb threat. Originally the DC police had said we could not march, and had to travel in groups of less than 25 people. It seemed that news of this led to them modifying their stance in some very big ways. After this threat came to life these officers closed intersections down and blocked intersections as we marched. The organizers on the patriot side repeatedly urged people in the crowd to be civil, respectful, not litter, and maintain a non-violent and non-destructive stance while moving forward. After the event concluded we all had lunch together and got to talk together a bit more. I learned a whole lot from this experience that really built upon what yellow vests needs to be for me. I understood already that we must look past party, and be a nonpolitical movement but that seemed to not quite cover the communication piece. When we generalize people and assume we know them before we meet them we get in our own way of potentially finding someone who would work with us. I found here that sometimes we have to be brave enough to ask the tough questions. When we approach someone with love in our hearts and ask something like “why do you want a wall?” …”or socialism?”…or “what other issues matter to you”?” we will more often than not find someone still pretty similar, though not always true.
It’s been my experience so far that most activists regardless of identity do themselves try to work at making the nation, or world a better place. It appears that often its not the ends we disagree on but the means, or the road there. We don’t all need to take the same road just as if we did while driving nobody would reach their destination. We can all arrive where we need to go quickest by taking many roads in vehicles of all colors and this logic applies to thought too. The more conflicting or different stances that are applied to an issue with a commitment to collaborate we encourage the most progressive outcomes while also not becoming our own obstacles. After these experiences my faith in the movement grew incredibly, and that will surely be a huge help. Though the notion seems logical enough, it would be terribly naive to assume this could be a quick or easy task to achieve.
February 27, 2019