But it’s not just individual anxiety that leads to protest.
Anything perceived by an individual can be perceived by a group. And perception is always reality. You don’t have to agree with a person or a group to know and acknowledge when anxiety has boiled over.
When an individual is feeling anxious and trying to return to normalcy, it’s usually accepted by the whole. But when a group feels enough pressure that it feels it needs to take action to correct it, alarm bells start to go off.
Why is that?
It’s often because that collective anxiety bleeds over to those affected by it. An individual taking new action is one thing. A group deciding, as a whole, to act another way is anxiety-provoking for everyone around the group. This has an uncomfortable, destabilizing effect until a new normal is reached.
This is the power and plight of protest.
The world is always shifting. The one constant we can always rely on is change. Without change, the world would be rigid and topple over. With change, the world is always shifting and auto-correcting.
Just like an individual can know something is wrong, so can a group.
Sometimes that anxiety is a false alarm. Other times it is real. But remember, perception is reality.
So, in a way, it doesn’t matter what is real and what is not. The human way forward is to validate other people’s experiences.
The human way is to seek common humanity, to see when others are struggling. And then find new ways to coexist.
We need to find ways to be there for one another. When the go-to reaction is fear and judgment, we need to go the other way to be stronger, kinder, and more resilient.
P.S. If this helped you see protesting in a new light, will you share it with someone who might like to read it? I put hours into The Mental Health Update each week, and it grows through simple sharing online. After 6 months, we passed the 500-subscriber mark yesterday. There are now 504 individuals who believe in the power of accessible mental health information.