COLUMN: Revolution starts with nobody

Noah Pearson
Opinions Editor

Every individual has the capacity to be revolutionary. It does not start with massive coalitions and networks of like minded people; sometimes all it takes is one person to stand defiantly against what is to show the rest of the world what can and should be.

On June 5, 1989 in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China, one nameless man stood directly in front of a procession of four tanks in protest of the massacre of what some estimate to be over 10,000 student protesters.

There is still no confirmed identity or whereabouts of the man who did this. What this means is that one man, not an army or a group of any kind, possibly gave everything to show the world that the way things are were not appropriate.

Although nothing specifically changed following this massacre, it exposed for many people what oppression and what protest can really mean.

While we do not live in place where we can observe 10,000 people dying and the government censoring it even 29 years later, we live in a place where our president self identifies as a nationalist, where anti-semites and racists target places of worship to execute those inside on the basis of who they are, and where children are executed in school. A lesson can be learned from tank man.

We are not powerless. There is no need to wait for thousands of others to take to the street. Any one of us can be a revolutionary.

This is not to say that our lives are the only currency we may pay, but that does not mean we cannot all contribute.

The nationalists, the anti-semites, and the racists are always among us. They, like us, are individuals. We can stop them before they get the chance to hurt others. When we hear it in our classes or when we see it online, no matter how small it is we have the obligations and the power to say something and stop it.

Our country is not so far gone that we are unable to protect ourselves. However, complacency can no longer be an option.

Throughout history, difference has always been made by those of us who were willing to stand firm in our belief sets. We do not negotiate our visions for what the world can be, and even when confronted with tanks and a military willing to fire freely on its own people, we have refused to move out of the way.

The future of this country is in the hands of those who are willing to stand out. Currently, that is the aggressors. Those who are willing to fight for what they want are those who want violence, discrimination, and genocide.

If you stand against any of this, it is essential that you are not violent about expressing it. Rather, we need to be relentless in how we educate, in how we call out, and in how we demonstrate that there is absolutely no room anywhere for those who wish to hurt others on the basis of who they are.

Do not underestimate what any of us are capable of. While it may seem small, it is better than doing nothing. The day we require individuals like tank man is the day we have already lost. Our country deserves better, we deserve better, and we are responsible for making it so.

While we may feel like we are nobody, we are up against that it seems like nobody can defeat. It is time to stop looking at that as a deficit but as the key to our success.