The Other Side

The Right to Protest

“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.”

~Martin Niemöller

America – a place where every voice has a right to be heard on every issue. Whether it’s the majority who comes together for a common cause, or the minority who at times can be the loudest, the right to protest is protected under freedom of assembly and freedom of speech in the First Amendment.

Over the years, protests have taken on many forms for many issues – from marches to demonstrations – from civil rights and women’s rights to social injustice. But what inspires protest? What moves a group of people enough to the point of needing their voice to be heard in such a demonstrative way?

People who feel mistreated, overlooked, or treated as less than will eventually get to the point where they feel the need to take a stand. Alexander Hamilton said, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” Maybe you’ll never participate in a protest, but at some point in life, you’re going to have to take a stand for something in some way.

Protests give a voice to those who want to be heard, but what happens when those people don’t feel heard? Dr. King said, “I think that we’ve got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard. And, what is it that America has failed to hear?” Many times when protests cross the line from peaceful to violent it’s because the frustration has reached a boiling point; and while I don’t condone it, I can certainly understand it.

While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea to participate in a protest, if we can understand people’s motivation behind it and see the need for change, we can find our own ways to come alongside others in support of causes that we believe in, whether that be through volunteering, donating, or even prayer.

Your voice matters because you matter.

Have you ever participated in a protest? Is there a cause that means enough to you that you would take a stand for it?

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