A group of armed men have have taken over a federally owned wildlife refuge in Oregon, protesting the way some local ranchers were treated by the legal system. Effectively, they’re bad parodies of squatters, since you’re supposed to wait until property is abandoned to try and take it for yourself.
While I support our American right and privilege to question our government, the way these people are staging their protest is making them a joke and it’s not going to accomplish their goals. Sure people are hearing about the Hammond case, but the protesters attempt to posture as modern-day knights is undermining any effective message. During American’s founding staging an armed takeover of someone else’s property might have made a statement, now it just makes you look like progress has passed you by.
If you want national attention – and concern – paid to a perceived wrongdoing by all means there are fantastic ways to make that happen. Look at the way Serial and Making of a Murderer have sparked conversation and analysis over long-settled criminal cases.
In 2016 if you want to invoke change then get involved in the legislative, corporate, or creative process. Learn how to talk to the media. Be respectful. We’re not in the Alamo age anymore, and, unless you’re wearing a uniform, you’re not defending America by standing there holding a gun.
Off the top of my head here are a few things one could do besides squatting on someone else’s land with a gun and a month’s worth of venison.
- Get a job in the industry you oppose in order to learn the methodology behind current systems.
- Volunteer at a homeless shelter.
- Write a cogent, spell-checked letter to your current local, state, and national representative. (Remove all run-on sentences)
- Run for a local, state, or national representative office.
- Think of reasonable, cost-effective, workable, sustainable ways to bring about change.
- Make those proposals to the people who matter.
- If they won’t listen, take your story to the press.
- Visit the gym. Do some yoga.
- Request interviews with local radio or television news shows to present your concerns and opinions. (If nobody will take you it may be time to reevaluate your thinking. The media may lean toward liberal but they’ll also take any story that will draw attention.)
- Join a society of Civil War Re-enactment. Or Lord of the Rings. Or whatever.
- Write a book.
- Write to your mother.
- Visit a veteran’s hospital and listen to their stories.
- Remove derogatory words and phrases – which weaken any and all arguments – from your vocabulary.
- Chaperone your kids’ high school dance.
- Talk to people who disagree with you, and really listen to their viewpoints to learn. Then, start trying to craft a better argument.
- Broaden your knowledge. Read The Kite Runner, or Mountains Beyond Mountains, or Long Walk to Freedom.
- Go for a hike.
- Visit with local people who hold opposing viewpoints to learn why they believe the things they do.
- Ask a cop what they think of your opinions and plans.
- Adopt a homeless family. Visit a shelter, find out what one family needs, meet with the mom or dad to help mentor them on their road to recovery.
- Sign up with CASA to become a Court Appointed Special Advocate for children in the foster care system.
- Volunteer to clean the bathrooms at your church.
- Take your significant other on a date doing something they’ve wanted to do.
- When you’ve done all the above, and still think armed, illegal activity is still your best option, call some Embassies and start exploring citizenship in another country.