The world watched as an estimated 85,000 protestors marched through the streets of Washington D.C. as part of the ‘March for Our Lives’ movement on March 24.
The viral movement, started by the Parkland shooting students, aims to ban assault rifles and the sale of high-capacity magazines, as well as enforce universal background checks and raise the minimum age of gun ownership to 21.
US law currently states that individuals must be at least 18 years old to purchase shotguns, rifles or ammunition in accordance with the Gun Control Act (1968).
All other firearms can only be sold to those 21 and older.
But the importance of the march stems not just from its anti-gun proposition, but from the power of a united front.
Around the world, movements like ‘March for Our Lives’ have been carried out throughout history.
The 1965–73 movement against America’s involvement in the Vietnam War was one the biggest anti-government protests in history.
Thousands of people across the US congregated to participate in anti-war marches, demonstrations and other forms of protests.
Even high-profile celebrities such as John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono, who wrote and performed the single ‘Give Peace a Chance’ in response to the war, joined the people-led movement.
The collective efforts and unity displayed by these protestors was influential in changing the course of government at that time.
Due to continuous protests and unrelenting pressure from the public, President Lyndon B. Johnson, who was responsible for starting America’s war efforts in Vietnam, was coerced into stepping down from re-election.
They also successfully ruined Vice President Hubert Humphrey’s chances at the 1968 election.
Richard Nixon eventually ended the America’s involvement in South-East Asia in 1973.
But, 45 years on from the anti-war movement, we are still seeing similar events occur in contemporary society.
Along with ‘March for Our Lives’, ‘Black Lives Matter’ is also a current and prominent people-led movement.
‘Black Lives Matter’ originally began as a hashtag as part of a social media campaign after neighbourhood watchman and ex-military officer George Zimmerman was acquitted for shooting an unarmed African-American teenager.
But just like the anti-war protests in the late 1960s, the hashtag soon turned into a viral movement against police brutality, with a specific focus on violence and systematic racism towards black people.
Over the five years that the movement has been active, it has gained a widespread following, with celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, The Weeknd and Chrissy Teigen all contributing their voice and resources to the activists.
Since its emergence, the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement has also taken great strides towards its mission.
Activists have worked one-on-one with the government to remove Confederate flags from places like the South Carolina State House and Ole Miss University, as well as to organise meetings with high-profile officials like Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.
‘Black Lives Matter’ still continues today thanks to the endless work and support of the people, which is something we are also likely to witness with ‘March for Our Lives’.
The power of the people is a strong and powerful weapon, especially when used against the government.
This is why in developing countries, such as Bangladesh protestors are often shot or arrested by the police and military.
We are more fortunate in the Western world in that we can protest without fear of being gunned down.
It is also important to remember that the US government and high-ranking individuals widely underestimate the power and change everyday people can create when banded together for a common purpose.
And just like Publilius Syrus once said, “Where there is unity, there is always victory.”
So I strongly encourage governments around the world to heed the following warning: Records from 2017 report that 42 per cent of the world’s population are under the age of 25.
That means in the near future we will hold the majority vote, and we will be able to overthrow any politicians who dare not listen to our voices.
Real power doesn’t reside in our political system; it resides in the people.
Image Source: Aaron Bernstein/Reuters