Every success towards building a more progressive society begins with the voice of a dissenter. In the 16th century, Galileo Galilei refuted the widely accepted geocentric model, thus paving the way for astronomy based on science, not religion. In 1848, that voice belonged to Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott at the Seneca Falls Convention for women’s suffrage. Louis Armstrong was known for breaking conventional music standards, yet it resulted in him becoming one of the most influential jazz musicians in the world. Despite that the voices of Pakistani females were considered inferior, Malala Yousafzai advocated for girls’ rights to education.
Without any dissenter, we would exist in a stagnant society void of meaningful change. In the present day, we are surrounded by activists who promote inclusion, equality and fairness across all social institutions. It’s easy to understand why people perceive every rally, march and movement as “progressive,” simply because these events seem to represent strides towards progress.
Recently, the Golden Globes red carpet showcased actors, actresses and activists donning black suits and gowns and signifying their support for the Time’s Up movement. I didn’t actually watch the awards show, but the celebrity posts I saw on social media the next day were enough to convince me that these public figures were actually invested in furthering the mission of a worthy cause.
Granted, it’s been a little over a month since the Golden Globes. After @emmawatson posted a group picture from the event, Time’s Up seems to have disappeared from the public conscience.
This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. We see it with mass shootings, international atrocities and other political occurrences: on the day of, these types of stories occupy countless news outlets and interpersonal conversations. But the number of discussions revolving around these important issues exponentially declines with each passing day.
In a society where instant gratification is highly valued, it’s crucial to remember that nothing of importance happens immediately. For one, the 19th amendment that secured women’s voting rights was ratified 72 years after the Seneca Falls Convention. Galileo was convicted of heresy before his contemporaries caught up to his revolutionary ideas.
Ultimately, activism requires endurance, not quick bursts of speed. To forget about the cause we are fighting for would be detrimental to long-term progress.