On Protesting

My friend Kathryn left a comment asking some really good questions. The comment was left in reference to a statement I made agreeing with the actions of six anti-war protesters at a Catholic mass on Easter Sunday. Her questions prompted enough thought from me to warrant an entire post as my response. Oh, and just in case you were wondering this is a Kathryn approved post; I got her permission before posting it.

Here is Kathryn’s comment in its entirety:

“what's the point of protesting? in my opinion, it's to raise awareness or to persuade someone to believe what you believe.
am i right? so, i don't see how this is doing that. people are aware of the war, the catholic church is anti-war, so they aren't raising awareness.
and do they really expect to persuade people by disrespecting their God by disrupting a service where they are mourning the death of their God?
i know you aren't a christian corey, but come on. do you really think that's okay to do?
i hate war. but it's sad to me that you think this is right on.”

She asked, “what's the point of protesting?” and then gave your opinion. I agree that protesting is very much about raising awareness. But not only is protesting about raising awareness it is also about “publicly expressing an objection to what someone (or a body of someones) has done”.

With that in mind I saw the protest that the Chicago Six pulled off as a way of calling out a hypocritical body of supposed believers (and those who lead them). I saw it as a way of breaking down the divide between a “safe, me and God centered mass” and a public declaration of something that the bible clearly speaks out against; namely loving your neighbor as yourself and not killing.

Americans tend to be a thick headed and hard-hearted people. We rebuke anyone who speaks too much truth or speaks it in a way we don’t deem to be socially acceptable. It’s a shame that this rebuke happens in the one place where truth is supposed to spoken (a church building).

She asked, “do they really expect to persuade people by disrespecting their God by disrupting a service where they are mourning the death of their God?”

Were the protesters trying to persuade people?
Do you think they went into the church that morning thinking they would have a procession of congregants cheering for them after they began there protest? Of course not. They knew people would hate it and hate them for doing it. They knew they would probably be arrested and silenced as quickly as possible.

They didn’t go into that church to make friends or followers, they went in to make a point and to hopefully spur discussion and thought from the hundreds of people who directly saw them (and indirectly through the thousands that would later read about their actions through newspapers around the nation) that day.

That’s great that the Catholic Church is anti-war in speech; but people are tired of words, they want to see peoples beliefs in action. Show me how they are anti-war, show me the actions behind the words they are speaking.

People didn’t follow Jesus simply because he said things that resonated within their hearts, they followed him because he lived out what he believed.

In closing I’ll ask this: Why isn’t the church an acceptable place for the people to protest? Wasn’t the life of Jesus a protest? Wasn’t it an audacious act of protest when Jesus rolled into the temple and turned over the moneychangers tables?

I don’t care if the American public and the Catholic Church say they are anti-war. I was at a protest in West Lake center on the fifth anniversary of the occupation in Iraq and saw maybe 150 people gathered to show their disdain against the actions of the American government in Iraq. Where was the Catholic Church? Where were the American people?

It bums me out to see people driving around with “Out of Iraq” bumper stickers but completely failing to see the hypocrisy in this. The government is in Iraq in large part because of the thing their bumper sticker is attached to and what it runs on: oil. We want to make a statement? We say we hate war? Try walking, try running, try riding a bike instead of driving. These are only a few of the many things we can do to put actions behind our beliefs.


Blogger Josh said...

i think something could also be said for how we tend to think that what we do always has to necessitate a result. meaning that if we protest, then naturally we must be trying to raise awareness or persuade someone. while those might be valid foundations for some and their protests . . . i would think that some probably do it just because it's the right thing to do. sort of you are who you are when no one is looking. that simply acting is the only ethical and spiritual thing we have left to do. i know in my protests (although not on the scale of the catholic 6) i mostly do them because i have to. because they're the right thing to do. not because of a "result" that i want to bring about whether in persuasion or awareness. i simply have to act.

5:59 AM  
Blogger Corey said...

Thats what its all about, Josh. You said it well.

Perhaps the mentality of a "direct result" for our actions is being informed by a culture that will only engage in any kind of activity if it will directly and nearly immediately give them something back.

You purchase something and seconds later (or a few days later in the case of internet shopping) you have in hand what you paid for. You have something tangible to show for the transaction that just happened.

8:25 PM  

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