In the Shakespeare play Pericles, after one fisherman marvel’s at how the fish live in the sea, another fisherman responds; ‘Why, as mean do a-land — the great ones eat up the little ones’.
It is a sad reality that land’s small fish – the local businesses, small organisations, and common members of society – tend to be swallowed up by our big fish – the large corporations, the filthy rich, or the people feeling entitled to their discriminatory ideals. It’s as though the capitalist world we live in today has shaped out to be some sort fight for survival, the rich just wanting to get richer, the powerful wanting more power, and those with nothing finding any means to assure themselves they are better than something else.
It is easy to accept this reality, to effortlessly slip into the
patterns and expectations of a world created by the powerful. But when we look back into our not so distant history, doors begin to appear in the corner we were once chased into by this big fish-small fish mindset. The key to these doors: Unity. For arguments sake, let’s say that in the ocean a big fish generally eats about 100 small fish in a day. If one of those small fish constantly managed to get way before being eaten, the big fish probably wouldn’t notice, nor would it care. However, if all 100 of the small fish united and constantly found a way to escape being eaten, the big fish would’t survive. The point here is that society’s big fish need us, maybe even more than we need them; The rich rely on the poor to gain or uphold their wealth, the powerful rely on the weak in order to remain dominant, democratic leaders rely on public opinion in order to continue leading, and people without power or dominance cheat themselves into a feeling of importance, relying on their ability to degrade (consciously or subconsciously) those with less status.
The unification of women in the 19th century helped to grant women the vote. Women came together and spoke up for what they believed in, so rather than just being a nice thing for men to look at, they were finally seen as people with enough intelligence and importance to vote alongside men. Women (and men) are still using the power of numbers today, over 3.3million people in the US alone marching to fight for the unresolved issues women still face.
The Orange Revolution is another example of ordinary people sparking change and dominating the big fish. In the months following the corrupt 2004 presidential election revealed Yanukovych as president, hundreds of thousands of people protested in favour of Yushchenko. This resulted in the recounting of votes and the revelation that Yanukovych had actually lost to Yushchenko 44% to 52%.
Among others examples are the protests against USA’s involvement with the Vietnam War, the Black Civil Rights Movement, the Salt March in India, Apartheid in South Africa, and the Chinese protests in Tiananmen Square in favour of democracy. If these huge social and political barriers can be broken, there is no excuse for people like you and I to take a stand against the big fish and fight for what we want – whether it be on a small or big scale.
As Martin Luther King Jr said, ‘there is power in unity and there is power in numbers.’ Sure, some the worlds biggest social and political changes in history were lead by individuals such as MLK, but no change has ever arisen without a strong number of individuals uniting as one. We have the power to change the world, which is pretty fucking cool. All it takes is unity, ambition, and a strong objective. Power to the people, Amandla Awethu.