“Wir sind ein Volk!” (We are one people!) This slogan was widely used throughout the protests of 1989, when East German citizens (primarily young people and students) rallied both for freedom from Erich Honecker’s oppressive regime and for reunification with prosperous West Germany.
One could say Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev or even Pope John Paul II was the key factor in the fall of Communism in central and eastern Europe. There are good and bad arguments for all of their influences, but by ignoring the mass protests and uprisings against the establishment government that took place in Prague, Gdansk, Leipzig, etc., one would fail to grasp the entirety of this complicated era of history.
The unification of Germany in 1990, which is celebrated on Oct. 3, was fueled by student protest and general discontent within East Germany.
The students and youth stood up for what they thought was right, and they weren’t afraid of what Gorbachev or Honecker would do to them. Where has this great initiative and willingness to stand up for what one believe gone? Why, in recent years, have protests failed to move the mountains they moved during the Cold War? One can blame a number of factors, but one I find particularly interesting is the popularity of opinion blogs. Now anyone with a computer and the vocabulary to voice an opinion in 100 words or so can create a blog to complain and protest about whatever they want. This is what I call “online protesting,” and I use “protesting” in the weakest sense of the word.
No matter what you write on your Tumblr or WordPress or Blogspot, unless you have the fame and influence to garner thousands and thousands of followers, your words will have minimal impact.
The media elite, an institution that has remained part of modern society since the invention of newspapers, controls the discourse of the nation. A blog cannot effect change in nearly the same way.
If you want to change the world, or “set it on fire” as Fordham encourages us to do so often, do something. Close the laptops, step outdoors and voice your opinion in public. Take a stand, and don’t be afraid of what others might say about you or your cause. Those who went before us have set the incredible example of what a group of people with a unified cause and a clear goal can do. If you feel passionately, don’t hide behind your monitor; speak out and speak loud.