Henry David Thoreau wrote:
“Can there not be a government in which majorities do not virtually decide right and wrong, but conscience? In which majorities decide only those questions to which the rule of expediency is applicable? Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience, to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience then? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterwards. The only obligation which I have a right to assume, is to do at any time what I think right.”…………………………
from On The Duty Of Civil Disobedience.
This gift of conscience is as much a boon and a life-long resource as are the tender mercies of our mothers’ love and our fathers’ watchful vigilance. And, we share our gift of conscience whenever we demonstrate.
Sgt. Nick Morgan was trampled under a policeman’s horse when he and other Vets attempted to present questions about the wars to candidates at the Presidential Debates in the Fall of 2008.
During the Republican Convention of 2008, demonstrators protested the two illegal wars, violations of civil liberties under the Patriot Act, and the country’s failure to address issues of poverty and social injustice. In a harbinger of future repression of civil dissent, the police rioted. Police deployed batons, detonation grenades, tear gas, and charging horses on peaceful, unarmed demonstrators:
The intent of the police was to send a message to all persons of conscience. Expect to be treated with all of the disrespect offered to criminals, drug dealers, and those who are armed and committing heinous crimes against society.
This is what the Elders meant when they spoke in earnest about the criminalization of dissent. They meant facing harsh treatment.
This is the friction of facing off with the new unprincipled majorities. Those who are demonstrating for ‘what is right’ are going beyond the brute forces of majority/the numerous and powerful/Rule. They are are standing up for the Rights of individuals. The Rights of Humans.