Jun 28, 2011

English Language AS Exam: Section B – Question 5

by Adeel Raza

Q: Rise up and speak! / Protests, peaceful or otherwise, don’t achieve anything.

Which view of activism are you in closer agreement with and why?

In a world as politically charged up as the one that we live in today, there are countless matters that are being fought over every day, and there are numerous others that should be brought in to consideration. I believe that the form of activism that a certain population follows with regard to any matter pertaining to them, determines how important it becomes in the political arena. As such, I support the active form of protest more than I support a stance that basically means giving up.

Many people today are of the view that any form of protest, peaceful or otherwise, does not achieve anything. That rallying together for a cause and taking to the streets in a show of solidarity and with an aim to make our voice be heard is just pointless. They feel that matters of real importance are not influenced by such protests, and are decided solely by the people who are in power: the members of government. Because of that mental barrier they have adapted to the rules and laws being imposed on them, and have learned to voice their opinion once every four years when they can vote for someone who enforces the changes they would like to see, from the top.

The recent protests all over Egypt provide a clear view of the part of the population that makes up the people who are skeptical of protests and their effectiveness. More than eighty percent of the protest rallies that were seen on the streets of Egypt for around three weeks comprised of young adults from the age group of twenty-five to thirty years of age. Which points to that startling fact that three-quarters of the adult Egyptian population over the age of around thirty, were content with the leadership of Hosni Mubarak; Egypt’s leader for more than two decades. They chose to stay at home, not joining the protests whether they were peaceful or turned violent, because of their defeated attitudes, their views towards protests and the fact that they had grown accustomed to the rule of a dictator. It was the youth that eventually brought about a change in Egypt. It may not have resulted in an immediate replacement with a new leader, but it brought about much needed change; all because of protests.

In addition, history provides us with multiple instances where the power of the people and their right of free speech was the only thing that made the difference in their lives. The Civil Rights Movement of the nineteen fifties and sixties in the United States of America resulted in one of the most significant revolutions in history, after African-Americans had lived there in inequality for decades. Leaders like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. were the people who chose to finally rise up and speak for themselves and demand their basic human rights. They did not choose to sit at home and wait for American mindsets to have some sort of an epiphany and miraculously change for the better. They worked, struggled, protested and risked their lives for change, and in the end, it achieved what no one could have ever dreamed of. If not for their tireless attitudes and protests, the world would still be as ignorant as it once was, and racism would continue to spread to every corner of the world.

Furthermore, many countries in the world do not have a democratic government. They have leaders who are in their position of power based on hierarchy or have been appointed by some higher power somewhere else. In places such as those, or where the leader does not have the best interests of the people at heart, only active protests and rallying can bring about the changes that the people want. Gandhi and Jinnah’s roles in freeing the people of the subcontinent from British rule bear testament to that fact, and provide perfect examples for such scenarios.

In light of all the evidence history has to offer, I believe that rising up and speaking for one’s rights is the form of activism that should be embraced by people all over the world, and that protests do in fact achieve a lot of things.


Post a Comment