Editorial | Political activism is more than just protesting

Make a sign, but not just to be on the 5 o’clock news. Post a picture, but not for the purpose of gathering up likes. Yell a chant, but don’t blindly follow.

The political climate surrounding us has sparked possibly one of the most active protesting scenes experienced in the country — and with this also comes the bandwagoners.

Women’s rights, gun control and gender equality are just a few of the many topics that have sparked a nationwide discussion on what needs change. People continue to hit the streets to voice their frustration with the government.

Much of this unrest seems to have sparked back in 2015 when mainly the U.S. participated in a protest against President Donald Trump when he ran for office. Protests against him never let up, and his inauguration only led to more frustration.

The number of large-scale protests continue to rise. Within the past two weeks, we’ve experienced nationwide school walkouts. On Saturday, nearly 800,000 people walked the streets of Washington, D.C. to support stricter gun laws in the March for Our Lives protest. And with so much tension in the country, it makes sense that these events are happening so close to one another.

But it’s not just about the marches. Showing up for a protest is one thing, but knowing exactly what you are showing up for is where the true value lies.

We want people to spread the word and promote activism but also keep track of the real meaning of a protest. This country has seen better days, and there’s a lot to reflect on. A nationwide protest will not mean nearly as much if people are not taking the time to educate themselves on what needs to be fixed.

We agree with making your voice heard. We agree with peaceful protests. We agree with standing up for what you believe in. But do you know what you are standing up for?

Protests are trendy and will always gather supporters, especially in today’s political climate.

So when someone shows up to voice a collective opinion, that person should fully understand what motivates the issues being confronted.

The activism doesn’t stop after the protest, either. It should be a springboard to everything else one can do.

If you want change, remember that it requires persistence; it’s not just a one-time effort at a rally. Go vote in local elections and contact your representatives — don’t just stand for the rest of the work to be done for you.

It’s easy to forget how much power a collective voice has, and it’s even easier to call it quits after the spotlight is no longer shining on you.