Whenever you hear the dismissive phrase, “They are just a handful of troublemakers”, you are listening to the opening bars of an organization’s or country’s swan song.
It is the most accurate sign that an organization or country has lost touch with its public. It signifies that the person, organization, or country no longer feels the need to keep a finger on the pulse of the group which is supposedly supporting it in some way. By support, I mean both voluntary and coerced support.
Voluntary support of a country’s administration is shown through voting and other supportive actions like donations of time and money.
Coerced support is through taxation and enforced following of arbitrary regulations with penalties for noncompliance.
You begin hearing this phrase long before popular sentiment approaches open revolt and public ridicule. It is used by clueless rulers or cunning administrators with delusions of grandeur who think they have full media support and complete control of public relations messaging.
The handful of troublemakers who are angry enough to be noticed are the tip of a volcano full of seething people who have not had enough upset to explode yet. The troublemakers may be sincere or criminal, but their presence is a sign that communication has been cut between the governing and the governed and the end result is almost always explosive if communication cannot be restored.
When the explosion comes, those who consider themselves in the ruling class are always surprised by the enormous response to what they may consider a trivial act.
It was a handful of trouble makers who triggered America’s move from a colony to an independent nation.
It was a handful of initial troublemakers who sparked the protests to the Korean and Vietnam and subsequent wars and served to change our opinion of our military and political leaders.
Today, in our world of almost instant communication, a handful of dedicated troublemakers can expose the frailties and insanities of our political leaders within hours of any stupid or criminal activity.
It could be an incautious remark by a public official in a public or private statement or it could be the self-centered focus on vacations and golf by our president while the country is assailed by enemies within and without.
We are all sitting on a volcano of suppressed rage that can find an explosive outlet at any time.
Ignoring or dismissing troublemakers and failing to understand their grievances will result in eventual mutiny and breakdown of law and order.
The Declaration of Independence says, “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
When consent is withheld, government puts itself at risk. Good government and good leadership alike pay attention to all constituents, including those handfuls of troublemakers.