The Lazy Idealist: Protest in the 21st Century

21 Aug

Facebook. Twitter. Huffington Post comments section. All these places have become appropriate outlets for speaking your mind. These days, technology has made it so easy for the typical idealist to protest something. Kony 2012. Chick-Fil-A. Hot-button issues that fade almost as quickly as they showed up in our news feed. It makes you wonder, do we (Americans) have the ability to incite a change anymore?

The issue was brought up to me today by my husband, Roger. Let me give you a little back story. Last week, I was approached via email by the local Chick-fil-A to do face painting for one of their family events. This was not a surprise, since I had worked for them a handful of times over the past year, prior to the “incident.” Since then, I had clogged up everyone’s news feed with articles about how it isn’t a first amendment issue and how it is important to NOT support Chick-fil-A financially if you support gay rights. I was NOT in attendance of the thousands of people who supported them on “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day,” and I was NOT going to pay money to eat there again. Despite all of that, I didn’t want to outright say, “no.” First of all, this particular location has zero control over their CEO’s statements or his financial contributions. Secondly, this location financially contributes to my son’s school, as well as many local and important charitable organizations. I found myself in a pickle. I had an idea! I decided that I would raise my price to almost double what I had charged them previously. That way, when they said that they could not pay me what I asked, I could bow out without having to explain the REAL reason why I didn’t want to participate. But then….my plan backfired! She agreed to the the price and said that she looked forward to seeing me on Tuesday! “Well shit,” I said, but decided that *technically* I still wasn’t financially contributing to them and was actually TAKING their money, and my conscience was satisfied with that rationalization.

Then today, the day of the actual event,  my dear husband decides to point out my hypocrisy. I explained futilely that it really WASN’T a betrayal to gay rights but that I was actually doing the opposite. He was attempting to get me to realize that perhaps I wasn’t so passionate about the issue after all. After some name calling and a lot of hurt feelings on my part, I came to write this blog. He is right. Dammit, he is. I hate saying that about this, but he is. In this day and age, it has become so easy to “get behind” certain issues because we don’t actually have to sacrifice anything in response. I said to my husband, “but I’m still not eating there! What would you have done? Would you have turned down the job? We need money! What about the gay employees? Do you think they should quit if they disagree enough to ‘protest’ it like I did?” He replied, “yes, I do.”

“A real protest requires sacrifice.”

So what have I sacrificed? Some greasy chicken sandwiches? My friends’ sanity when I won’t shut up about this issue? Even when the Occupy Wall Street movement was happening, a lot of us (myself included) agreed, but did nothing. “I have a job,” “I have children,” “I would be there if they would demonstrate a clear and concise demand.” It seems that these days, it is so easy to have an opinion, but nothing seems to be getting done. People are just getting angrier and becoming further from a common ground, but yet not going out to either vote, write to congressman, or donate their time to organizations they believe in. Sure, we do 5k’s once in a blue moon for a cause, but what are we doing really?

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