Occupy, Protests, Rebellion: Different names for the same thing?

What makes this:


Civil Rights protestors in Birmingham, Ala.


Police hose young Civil Rights protestors.

So much different than this:


Protestors rally in Tahrir Square, Turkey.


Police launch flares at protestors in Turkey.

Every day televisions and social media feeds are dense with images of protests and social movements around the world. These movements impact people on a global scale, even if they don’t realize it immediately. Inevitably these movements become history — and in true historic fashion they repeat themselves.

I tend to believe in protests as a last resort of the public to be heard. Sometimes, even in the most “democratic” nations, there’s a need for rebellion. You can fill out the ballot in every election — big or small — yet your society/economy/politicians will continue to disappoint. It’s a haunting feeling to feel your government isn’t on your side.

As we’ve seen with the NSA scandal and the complete works of WikiLeaks, there’s not trust/transparency/communication between the people and the government. Those are normally the building blocks of a healthy relationship. The people of the world are smart enough to know political chivalry is dead.

So my question about protests and the brave “treasonist” souls that DO something isn’t why they repeat generation after generation. I’d like to ponder deeper into what motivates us to ignore the cyclicalness of history’s repetition by dubbing events/people with names, and often, not thinking about the repercussions of their name?

People rush to criticize a celebrity for what they call their child, but they’re not as concerned with the names of historic movements of their generation.

There’s a lot in a name and there’s a lot in a protest — neither should be done under the influence or on a whim. Here we are, in the 21st century, eyes peeled to our smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc. with unlimited knowledge at the tips of our fingers, but not thought in our head.

As a copy editor, I see it all. “Jihad” does not “mean”  holy war, it’s literal translation is closer to “struggle,” it’s roots are beautiful and sad, yet now it is demonized because of its misuse and misinterpretation in the press. “Arab Spring” and the “Uprising” in the Middle East make it sound like these countries are primitive, when in fact the protestors are educated, some even considered affluent.

Conversely the Occupy movement was made laughable by its name and press coverage. Occupy protestors were made to seem like college kids trying to get out of class. I can remember news interviews with Occupiers where no one person would say the same thing, which made the movement seem disorganized and a joke. My opinion was close to the majority, “Occupy is a joke and annoying on my commute to work.” Until I participated and interviewed several people at Occupy London. Yes, everyone was there for a different reason and yes, some came from a lovely background but that’s what it’s about. We live in a time where everyone has a reason to protest and quite honestly everyone is entitled to (unless you live in a communist country, sorry).

While the names for protests and protestors vary depending on the nation gathered at picket lines, one theme is clear and consistent — social movements are a demand for change. Yet, some are villainized, some are marked heroic and some… some just occupy stuff.