There is always “a line in the sand”. I draw that line at protesting in front of an MP’s private residence. Just as I would defend your right to protest, I defend the politician’s right to enjoyment of his/her property. We must continue to respect the sanctity of a person’s home and in this case, the Minister of Finance.
I am not agreeing or disagreeing with the actions taken by the protestors representing “the gaming industry”, I am simply saying that everyone needs their private space and that must be respected. In addition, one must always weigh up whether the action will hinder or help their cause. Here’s an example from Sesame Street which talks about weighing your options.
In this case, the objective was to get a meeting with the Minister in an attempt to change his position with regard to the new taxes. Disturbing his family routine would not have helped their cause, and in fact may have angered him in immeasurable ways. The issue, while framed as personal, is in fact an issue to be addressed by the Office of the Minister of Finance, not the private citizen who happens to hold the position himself. Every effort should be made to protect the privacy of his wife and family.
So, I have learned the following lessons:
Firstly, there must always be goal clarity. Once the goal is clear and unambiguous, it is easier to have a laser-like focus on achieving that goal. It also makes it easy to interrogate any proposed actions and question what would be the likely impact of that action. Anything that distracts from the main goal should not be done.
Secondly, protesting in front of the Minister’s private residence had absolutely no impact on the state. So once the media moved onto another story, the protest moved off of the front page and can only be renewed by additional action. Protesters must therefore consider what the ultimate impact of their action will be. For example, in a recent protest in which a road was destroyed, there has been no consequence for the protesters who destroyed the road. The inconvenience will be experienced for some time to come and the burden for that repair will ultimately fall to the citizens.
Thirdly, keep the momentum going or you will lose. This is precisely what has happened; the protesters got a meeting with the Minister in the Ministry, received no assurances and the Minister of Finance continues as usual.
He may have won this round, but until we change the approach from the dictatorial stance to a collaborative one, we will all continue to be losers in this game of politics. Meanwhile, protest if you wish but spare a thought for the families of our politicians and keep them out of the mix.