The elites in the mainstream press are at great pains these days to assure us that the violence and mayhem we are witnessing in our country is really only a small by-product of protests which, in the main, are “mostly peaceful.” Protesters gather in Portland and attempt to burn down a federal building–with federal employees still in the building–yet, the protest was “mostly peaceful.” A few thousand folks burn a police precinct in Seattle and take over a section of the city for weeks. The life’s work of the business owners in the area is destroyed, mayhem reigns within the ‘autonomous zone,’ a 19-year old is even murdered, yet, the protest was “mostly peaceful.” In Wisconsin a state senator is beaten up.
Innocent motorists are surrounded and terrorized on city streets. Each morning we wake up to news of cities burning, our emergency rooms clogged with the injured, even dead bodies being hauled to funeral homes, and, yet, we should ignore all this since the protests are, according to our secular press, “mostly peaceful.”
Much has been and will be written about these “mostly peaceful” protests from the philosophical and political implications underlying them to the deleterious impacts they may have on society. Yet, there is a larger point to be made, a contrast to be drawn which is startling, even shocking.
Every year for over forty years, hundreds of thousands of protesters have gathered in Washington D.C. and have borne witness to just what a truly peaceful protest should look like–the annual March for Life.
Consider: for over forty years tens of thousands upon tens of thousands of people have been gathering regularly to protest one of the greatest injustices in human history–the deprivation of what even Thomas Jefferson, a Deist, recognized as a fundamental human right, the right to life. How many buildings have been burned down in all those years? How many people injured? How many businesses destroyed? How many people murdered?
It staggers the imagination. Millions of people over the years have participated in the “March for Life.” The law of averages says that at least some small fringe element would succeed in fomenting violence of some sort at some point. Instead? Virtually nothing.
Indeed, so peaceful has the March been that the folks over at The Washington Post, The New York Times, CNN, MSNBC, and Co. actually had to manufacture an ‘incident’ a couple of years ago in an attempt to discredit a popular protest movement which has so consistently borne witness to the love of Christ undergirding it. I’m referring, of course, to the Nick Sandman incident. Oh, how the press was overcome with horror. A young kid (no offense Mr. Sandman) awkwardly smiling at a Native American who was banging a drum in his face. That’s it. A kid smiling. That’s the best ‘violence’ the secular press has been able to come up with. Yet, they professed themselves appalled at such behavior. And even that turned out to be contrived when later video showed it was, in fact, the activist who confronted the kid, invaded his space, and banged a drum in the kid’s face.
How often, when witnessing the depredations and machinations of the secular Left, do we find ourselves speculating, “If a pro-lifer did that, the press would…?” It’s a rhetorical question. We know the answer. Were we to act as the Left, the press would demand martial law be declared. Yet in asking the question, we miss the more important question as to how it is possible that pro-life proponents can gather in numbers far larger than BLM and Antifa with nary any violence?
There’s really only one answer; an answer summed up in two, simple words: God’s grace.
I’d wager the lion’s share of those reading this piece have prayed for the March for Life over the years. Prayed that the Lord would protect the Marchers. Prayed the Marchers would give witness to Christ’s love. Prayed the March would convert hearts and change law. The Marchers, themselves, pray for the same.
The result? An annual, truly peaceful witness to both Truth and Truth’s Love, the quiet conversion of some hearts, and at least some progress in changing minds and laws. In short, prayers answered. Grace given and received.
The “world,” as Our Lord used the term, cannot see this. They cannot recognize it because they could not and will not recognize Him. It sneers at the March. The secular press alternates its coverage of the March from hate–i.e., the Nick Sandman business–to contemptuous silence. Yet they are ravenously, even sympathetically, drawn to the violent; the secular leftists throwing frozen water bottles, shouting vulgar epithets at police, burning buildings and Bibles, and beating up and terrorizing the innocent. The world recognizes its own and it rushes to protect them.
There is a temptation in all this, the temptation for faithful Catholics to despair, to sense we are playing a game in which the deck is stacked against us. A tweet goes out from some eager social media activist, a few thousand gather to provide cover while a few hundred perpetrate their violence, and overnight the political agenda of the radical Left–a small minority–is moved to the forefront of the national discussion and achieves in a fortnight what forty years of truly peaceful protest by pro-lifers has struggled to achieve. In cities across the nation police departments are variously defunded, statues toppled, writers and thinkers cancelled.
It is so very easy for the worldly since the violence they wield is the world’s tool. Our Lord’s ways, we know, are not the ways of the world. Nor can they be ours. We all know this, yet it is important to constantly return to this central truth. His Kingdom is not of this world. The world seeks to be on ‘the right side of history.’ We should focus on being on the right side of He Who will judge history.
When facing such a temptation, we do well to remember Mother Teresa’s counsel: “We are called upon not to be successful, but to be faithful.” That is what the March for Life has done for over forty years. We should rejoice and be glad for this in these tempestuous time; thankful for this gleaming light placed high in its lampstand, even as the world rushes away from it in its pell-mell scramble toward the darkness.