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What to make of protest marches

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Next time you see, participate, view or follow a protest online, listen carefully to its voice. Does it reflect a humble desire for the truth?

Father Eugene
Hemrick

Every day people gather to protest around the country. What must we understand about the protesters, and what does it require for protests to be effective and beneficial?

Protests address grievances, injustice or inequality. They call on others to rectify a situation or to soften hardened hearts. They challenge those who look at an issue with apathy and employ sound understanding when addressing complex problems.

Protesters, or demonstrators, are the main people who can either help or hinder these desired objectives.

Some protesters are truly prophetic when it comes to desiring God's justice and justice for those who suffer. They can see right through an issue and cut to its core. Most protesters possess zeal. Some will even die for a cause, if necessary.

Other protesters gather "for the ride." They thrive on the excitement and adulation that goes with a protest. They love banners and distinctive dress that makes them stand out. Down deep, unfortunately, for these individuals, their true understanding of the protest is shallow.

Some protesters may be troublemakers. Perhaps that's because they are not at peace with themselves or with the world or with God, and striking out is one way to cope with resentment and restlessness.

In the near future we will likely be witnesses to more protests due to the media with its multiple means of communication. And we will need copious amounts of basic principles of prudence.

First, we need to get the facts straight about an issue, verify where they come from and the person issuing the facts. Before taking to the streets, some diligent homework about the issue at hand is required.

Second, try to calmly look at the facts and view them objectively. You're aiming to make sound judgments. Sometimes, certain facts are difficult to face or understand.

Also, employ humility. It helps us in our quest for prudence and for seeking the truth. A recurring problem with some protesters is their pride. They stop listening to others. Once a person becomes fixed on an idea, they can become rigid and a self-serving. Humility softens hardened hearts. Humility helps the heart to seek dialogue and not to shout at others.

Next time you see, participate, view or follow a protest online, listen carefully to its voice. Does it reflect a humble desire for the truth?

Protest gatherings can be very irritating at times, but they needn't be if the above practices are used.

FATHER HEMRICK IS A COLUMNIST WITH THE CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE.

FatherEugene Hemrick is a columnist for Catholic News Service

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