We, The Americans, have always held dear the foundational concept of protesting in the public square to express dissatisfaction with the status quo — and to also call others to action to join us against the latest repression at a hand coming down from above us without a velvet glove.

What we have lost in this process is a sense of settled satisfaction. Too often, we take to the streets only to make us feel better — not to really bring about verifiable change. It is too easy to amplify the results of standing up when one sits down to wallow in the next, naked step, of actually making something functional, and fitted, arrive out of the public protest.

We convince ourselves that our voices matter, that we shall be heard, and that a “million ________ march” will change the world and evolve the species into something less foreboding, and more wonderful; but does this method work; and if it does, at what cost? Sure, there might be some press coverage, and photos, and lots of selfies to be had, and held, but when the buses fill up to take everyone back home again, and the hard streets are, once again, cold and empty, what was really won in the bargain of the open mouth, and the red extraction?

Are public protests created to force change, or to give people a reason to feel better about their stake in life, as if they’re actually accomplishing something other than a whisper into the iceberg? Is this wish fulfillment, or full on wokefulness?

When a tragedy blossoms, and thoughts and prayers are offered instead of direct action, what is to become of us after the dissolving protest? “Thoughts and prayers” don’t stanch blood, or place a brain back in a skull after a shooting. It’s all public dribble offered, not as a salve, but as a false invocation from the real danger reaping our sown children: life is precious, unprotected, and without guarantee or Kevlar.

How does change happen without public protest, or the traitorous politician, or the slain kindergartener? How can we possibly move on from all of that by holding signs, and marching, and sitting down while standing up?

We have to fight our demons with precisely the same sort of fire they throw at us — we must be anarchical, antithetical, rude, and nasty. The whole process might take a tumble into the depths for a while and, right now, that’s okay, because to fight this sort of sordid, devoted, demonic, oppression coming at us from the top, and the bottom, we have to stand up, and fight two sides at once, or we risk being crushed, and them compressed, in the middling middle.

We are now at the terms of a life and death decision. Do we fight those who seek to hurt us? Or do we give up our lives for the ideals of others comported against us? We can wield our good nature. We can batten those who dare to list us. We can flay every cruel, and bad, idea away with the searing, inescapable, kindness of doing the right thing in the light of the darkest vivisection.

If we tire, they win. If we give up, they take up the high ground. If we allow them to redefine standardized truths that have proved self-evident, then the soul of a nation has been given over to the cult of personality, and the pit of despair, and the laughing hellfire — and for those of us who dare to raise a fist in protest, we must always take the next step of bringing down the knuckle as unforgiving as possible in a divisive action intended to make the world right again, and the us of us a better a bit better again, and to put the world spinning in the sane direction again, forever, forward, and into the next moral dawning; and we vow, together, to never be bent backward, or be shunted behind, or crushed on bended knee, again.