By Sam Madden
What is the best response when a group you view as your enemy or an enemy of society show up in your city to protest? Is it to counter-protest, ignore them, or try another way?
Does a counter protest ever lead to anything constructive? Do counter-protests ever change anyone’s minds?
Mother Teresa stated: “If you want to make peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.”
“The most effective thing you can do is to show those who believe others are less human is to show them otherwise. Screaming and name calling is NOT the way to get them to listen,” says Jim Patterson a retired USAF MSgt.
Neither is showing up with clubs, homemade flame throwers, etc.
(Mr. Patterson informs me that his quote comes from the Latin phrase, “Ultima Ratio Regum” meaning “the last argument of kings”, or sometimes translated into “the final argument of kings”)
Counter-protesting is a non-viable option plan and simple. At the Center For Pluralism we don’t believe in counter protests. We believe in engagement and mitigating conflict, (and we take that approach on both sides and any side).
So if one feels that they can not kindly engage and mitigate conflict because their emotions are running too high, then the next best option is to ignore. A counter-protest can only lead to one thing, and that will be a more divided society and more times than not more violence, due to rising tensions, and hateful rhetoric from both sides.
We need for this country to come together. We can come together. Let’s use constructive ways to bring people together. It could be as simple as showing up at such a rally in Charlottesville, and just get one person on the other side to sit down to talk to, or to invite them for dinner or a coffee.
This approach works, we at the Center For Pluralism have done it numerous times and is a lot more effective than a counter-protest, which will not accomplish anything.
Just imagine if each one us could invite one person what the impact that would have.
Sam Madden is a board member/representative and consultant for the Center For Pluralism. He can be reached at Sam@centerforpluralism.com