Many of us citizens in the United States have watched in horror at the level of daily violence occurring in our cities. Innocent people are getting attacked and a few have even died from the actions of these rioters.
We were all saddened by what happened to George Floyd — God rest his soul. We were all outraged by the senseless treatment he received by a few bad police officers.
Protesting this inhuman act is our right as Americans. And we deserve immediate action to prevent this from happening in the future.
Virtually all Americans support holding these police officers accountable as well as implementing police reform measures.
Protesting Becomes Violent
Unfortunately, in less than a week these peaceful protests became violent. Stores in our communities have been demolished and destroyed — businesses that owners spent a lifetime building — gone in minutes.
Instead of restoring order, our leaders are more concerned with the next election cycle. And they are willing to sacrifice the livelihood of thousands of people who paid taxes to be protected.
Sadly, in many cases, these political leaders have even sacrificed the lives of hundreds of people. Unbelievable.
What leaders are ignoring is the psychological transformation that is taking place in the minds of these protesters. This transformation is a human response to their environment — forces to which any of us would be susceptible.
Protesters are very reluctant to give up their actions. And here are three (3) powerful forces of human nature that keep protesters on the streets.
1) Protesters are Drunk on Power
I was watching the protests on TV and noticed a young lady marching in front of an angry group of protesters. She was leading chants for the crowd. Everything she shouted, the crowd would shout back.
This girl couldn’t have been more than 17 years old. Most likely, there has never been a time in her life when she had this kind of power — and probably never will again.
And it was obvious that this young lady was loving every minute of it and having the time of her life. She was drunk on her newfound power.
Every day these protesters are getting drunker and drunker on the power they have. Here are some common “power-drunk” signs:
- Belief that their needs outweigh the needs of everyone else
- Refuse to listen to the ideas and opinions of others
- Ignore feedback and consider it unhelpful without hearing it
- Belief that they do not need more knowledge and refuse new ideas
“Drunk on power” is a term that many of us have heard before. But it happens to be true. There are dozens of studies that have validated this phenomenon.
What each study has concluded is people who are feeling powerful lose their ability to empathize with others. As their power grows, their sense of empathy falls.
“What we’re finding is power diminishes all varieties of empathy.”
Another interesting observation was made regarding the effect of power. There are two kinds of thinking we use that require two different systems in our brains.
The first thinking type pertains to “how”. This is the system that addresses details and lays out a specific path to achieve a result.
The second thinking type pertains to “why”. This is where causes are created and reasons to seek a certain result.
People who are drunk on power have difficulty switching between these two types of thinking. The brains of these protesters seem to be stuck in the “why” mode, and very few of them are addressing the “how”.
2) Protesters have Absolute Power
Whenever someone states the adage, “power corrupts”, they are usually corrected to say “absolute power corrupts”.
These protesters do have absolute power.
Where else can you burn down buildings, attack police, and loot stores without any repercussions?
Even leaders of many nations don’t have this kind of power.
This famous quote comes from Lord Acton, who penned it in a letter to scholar Mandell Creighton in April 1887:
“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority, still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority.”
Lord Acton believed that good people can become bad people when coupled with great power. Because power diminishes the qualities of the heart — which has been confirmed in studies.
3) The Oppressed Becomes the Oppressor
Paulo Freire was a brilliant Brazilian educator and philosopher. Many considered him as an expert in critical pedagogy and social movements.
In 1968, Freire released his famous book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. The inspiration for this book was to guide those who are oppressed so that they could regain their humanity from the oppressors.
While Freire’s book is in full support of peaceful protests, he does issue a strong warning. During the process of liberation, he warns that the oppressed — and those who perceive themselves to be oppressed — often become as bad as the oppressors.
“The oppressed, instead of striving for liberation, tend themselves to become oppressors.”
Here’s a summary of Freire’s book written by an Emeritus Professor of Psychology from Sonoma State University that takes this warning a bit deeper:
“If given a bit of power, at first the oppressed tend themselves to become petty tyrants. Their ideal is to be men; but for them, to be men is to be oppressors. This is their model of humanity. They are still identified with their oppressors’ values. The peasant who becomes a foreman may be harsher toward the other peasants than the owner.”
These observations demonstrate how humans react to feeling oppressed. To have someone experiencing oppression in our society is heartbreaking, but there are too many examples of how the oppressed become the oppressors. Protester violence is one of those examples.
Evidence of Power
When these three forces converge into one powerful movement, it is very hard to stop.
If you have been following the protests from when the Floyd murder occurred, then you have seen a progression of power. Whenever a specific demand by the protesters was met, they made another one — and then another and another. The goalposts keep getting moved.
The fact is they will never stop because they love power. Who can blame them? Power is addictive, but too much of it can be destructive.
Those Who Empower Protesters
In my opinion, the absolute worst people during these protests have been those who have empowered the protesters.
Amidst all this lawlessness we have heard governors, mayors, and other politicians justify the violent actions of these protesters.
How can violence and breaking laws ever be justified?
While these protesters speak from their hearts about the pain they feel, these political leaders use their pain for political gain.
If political leaders care about the welfare of its citizens, then:
The second group of people who have empowered protesters is the mainstream media. Because of their political agenda, the MSM has been trying to convince Americans that these protests are not violent.
To be fair, many protesters are not violent. But it is hard to turn a blind eye to all the destruction we have seen with our own eyes. And the damage we are seeing is too massive to hide.
The real damage from the words of political leaders and the media is that it validates and justifies all the violence. When figures of authority condone these violent acts, what reason is there to ever stop the looting and burning?
Couple this with large groups of angry people who are experiencing the adrenalin of power and you have a dangerous powder keg.
I can’t see these protests ending anytime soon.