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There is a group of 6th-grade girls currently waging a peaceful protest at lunch. They felt they were being treated unfairly in when they were allowed to get in the lunch line, so they all started bringing cold lunch. They’ve kept this up for over a week, though I’m not sure it will have any impact if/when they decide to eat hot lunch again. Still, their tenacity is admirable.

This current protest reminded me of one we tried when I was in middle school. It seemed like we had nuggets of some kind at least once a week, if not more. That year we experienced nuggets from chicken, turkey, pizza, ham and cheese, and even fish. My grade had had enough. We picked a day and said we were all eating hot lunch, but then brought forth our cold lunches once we reached the cafeteria. The cooks and administration were furious at our deception; after all, that was a lot of food that went to waste. However, our point had been made, and the number of times nuggets appeared on our trays went down significantly.

We all have things we don’t like, but most of us are content to vent to our family, friends, and co-workers without actually doing much to effect change. To organize a protest takes work and dedication along with buy-in from everyone you are trying to involve. If you think you’re going to have 25 people for an event and only eight show up, the impact will be significantly less. Do all these potential protestors want to put themselves out there? Do they really believe that strongly in the cause?

We’ve seen an increasing number of protests in the news lately. It seems like there are some folks who are so eager to get their 15 minutes of fame that they will find something to shout about in a loud fashion. The Black Lives Matter protests seem to have simmered down lately, but they were splashed in the news pages and television programs for a long time. As I’ve written before in this space, getting bent out of shape every time some delinquent threatens a police officer and gets shot for it seems to be an overreaction. Study the facts before running out with picket signs.

And these protests that should be peaceful, protests which our Constitution allows us to do, too often escalate into violence when every Tom, Dick, and Harry get wind of it and decide it’s a good opportunity to run rampant and do stupid things without repercussions. “If I’m part of this large group and shout something inflammatory or shove someone and get things started, I can sit back and watch the wanton mayhem,” seems to be the thought process of some. I wonder how many people at some of these BLM protests actually believe in the cause.

Then there are the protestors against our presidential candidates. I haven’t really formed a strong opinion on who will receive my vote in November, but I know this much. Donald Trump is a blowhard and Hillary Clinton is shifty, but they have put themselves out there to run for the highest office in the land. You don’t have to like them or respect them; it seems hard to do with either one, but to incite rage and violence because you disagree with them seems foolish. It’s possible to plan a protest and let people know how you feel without anger entering the arena. Work hard to convince others that this person is not the right person for the job.

You know, to protest something is a great gift in our country, but people just have to remember to follow some rules. We have many freedoms in the United States, but the right to assemble and protest something does not give you the right to disobey other laws. A well-organized protest can have a profound impact. Social media is so ubiquitous that it’s a great place to make others aware of the event. Checking with local officials about area laws that might apply, such as the use of amplified sound, is vital to keep everything peaceable. Letting the media know is always a good thing, as long as you don’t plan on acting foolish as soon as the cameras are turned on.

Look at the lunchroom examples from earlier. While my grade didn’t check on rules and ended up angering people, we ended up getting what we wanted. Still, I have a feeling we could’ve gotten the lunch menu changed without going as far as we did. The current group of 6th graders is following the rules, they have let the powers that be know what they are doing, and they are not acting crazy about it. Will they get what they are seeking? Only time will tell!

Word of the Week: This week’s word is demotic, which means relating to common people, as in, “The demonstration struck a chord with the demotic population and quickly gained support.” Impress your friends and confuse your enemies!

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