Cheering @ March for Life...appropriate?


#1

I attended the March for Life this year and last year with about 100students from my school. Each time, we spent the majority of the March yelling what are basically cheers. For example:

  1. “We love babies, yes we do, we love babies how 'bout you?” This was a set up for a sort of “cheer battle” between us and anyone around us who we would have hoped would respond with the same line, only louder.

Now, the purpose of our many cheers, as we were told, was to get people “pumped up” and “excited.” Granted, this does boost morale within the group. But my issue is this: Is it really appropriate?
During this year’s march our group basically spent 30-45 minutes stading on a street corner with our school’s banner displayed while people marched by us. Being personally opposed to it, I did not participate in the cheering, but our group was quite loud. I was spending my time watching the other marchers go by. I looked out into the crowd, and no one seemed to be saying anything. Some people looked at us, some seemingly annoyed or angered at our actions, and a few amused and approving. But no one esle seemed to be making so much noise.

I believe that, considering the gravity of the issue at hand, cheering/chanting is better left out in favor of a more quiet and dignified march. I was trying to imagine how those women carrying the “I regret my abortion” signs must have felt hearing us as we seemed too…animated and almost like we were out to have fun. It seemed that the chanting and cheering was more about us; our group and how we feel, etc…not about the issue at hand.

Eventually, after about 45 minutes, we did join the actual March, still making our noise. We stopped short of the March route, gathered for a photograph with our huge banner, and left for home while everyone moved on to the end of the March. In a way, I felt like much of the motivation for our actions was more to promote our school than our cause.

Any thoughts? Is it appropriate to be this lively and almost care-free at an event protesting what must be one of the most horrible atrocities in American history?


#2

I’m with you… I’ve been to the march 3 or 4 times and a lot of the chants we did seemed a bit juvenile and/or silly. I’m mean, is anyone going to listen if we are singing “we love babies…” to each other? There’s no point and no message; it doesn’t do anything to help convince the other side we are serious (it probably does the opposite) nor present any argument. If anything, I’d dig in my heels if I was on the other side.

On the other hand, how freaking AWESOME would it be if we had a silent march one year. Can you imagine 10’s of thousands of people silently walking through the streets of DC? It would blow people’s minds. That would be amazing and perhaps convincing.


#3

I tend to agree with you. Although I was extremely happy and pleased to see so many young people involved in the March for Life (I watched it on EWTN)… the last thing that we need to start doing… is to give it a “Carnival Atmosphere”. Believe it or not, I also heard one of the commentators covering the March… interviewing a young boy. And he asked him… “So, you havin’ FUN?”. I was like :eek: That’s not what the March for Life is about. :nope:

It’s much too serious a matter… and kind of makes the Pro-Life Movement look silly.

I think it would have been a much better idea for the Catholic participants to bring out their Rosary’s… and pray aloud, while walking.

Might be a good suggestion for next year.


#4

I think you can do both…pray and cheer. There’s plenty of ways to spread the message. The point is that people march and march in numbers and bring the message of the march back to their homes. It’s too important to shelve it till next year. It’s an ongoing battle that we must continue to pursue.


#5

It takes all kinds. Some people will choose to approach their activism one way while others will find different outlets. We need to respect it all in what reaches each.

I might, personally, find such incessant chanting annoying, but perhaps for the young people, themselves, it meant a lot.

It seems to me that, at this point, the purpose of the March For Life isn’t so much to change anyone’s mind about things. Rather, it is more a way to upbuild the people who are already believers in the cause and a celebration of life (especially considering that the majority of marchers tend to be young people who could have been legally aborted.) So if pumping up yourselves and people around you by chants and cheers helps to that end, then it can certainly be a good, positive thing.

Indeed, to me, what the March For Life represents is a practical witness to the triumph of life over death. And that is something to cheer about. Long may it live in just that fashion!


#6

While I can certainly understand and sympathize with this position, it does strangely remind me of a comment included in WFMT and Studs Terkel’s legendary production This Train. Journaling the pilgrimage from Chicago to D.C. for the Civil Rights March of 1963, at one point a standerby on the streets of Washington comments how strange it seems that these people are singing and smiling rather than just walking along silently with somberness. The concept totally befuddled him. I think, then, that pro-life marchers who follow in this tradition are actually in quite excellent company.


#7

:slight_smile:

Thank you for all of the input. I just wanted to get some feedback on my thoughts. I am considering taking this up with campus ministry since they are sort of in charge of the whole March For Life trip that we take each year, so best to get other opinions so that I can discuss the issue reasonably. I go to an awesome college and I wouldn’t want people to get the wrong idea about us from our behavior, because I certainly doubt anyone who went with us on the trip ever meant to be anything but supportive of the cause.

-Peace!


#8

I don’t know how yours sounded but there were a few groups of young people doing something similar at the San Francisco West Coast Walk for Life and they sounded great. It’s good to have enthusiasm especially when most of the noise is coming from the other side. A little balance-as long as it’s not overdone.


#9

Some random thoughts in defense of cheering:

I go to the March for Life every year and there are always tons of groups cheering. I doubt that you annoyed anyone.

Cheering is good for helping your group stay focused – sometimes, you’re standing around for hours, and if you’re not cheering or chanting something, everyone will start having little conversations and completely forget that they’re at the March for Life. Plus, it is very cold some years, and cheering helps keep the group morale up and stops people from shutting down and zoning out.

Also, I think the festive atmosphere of the March for Life makes pro-lifers more approachable. Most protest marches around here take on an angry, menacing atmosphere, and I’m afraid to even get near them. The festiveness of the March for Life effectively neutralizes any such tendencies and makes the march more approachable and inviting for outsiders. As noted above, past civil rights movements have taken advantage of this with great effect.

Finally, it is sometimes hard to be optimistic in the pro-life movement, and optimistic gestures such as cheering display a certainty that someday, the pro-life position will prevail.

PS: Are you SURE that nobody else was making so much noise? Practically every group that I saw had some kind of cheer. If you need some confirmation, look at this Latin American group of priests, seminarians, and nuns dancing and playing musical instruments: youtube.com/watch?v=BC-lWXTyEgI


#10

I went for the first time this year and it was great seeing so many young people and the cheering and songs were great to see. I felt it was a way for younger people to help solidify the position on their minds and express it to others.

Did you think the cheering was being done without belief in the cheer?

Maybe me… but I think Pro Life is a great thing to cheer for. We should all cheer for Pro Life. I like hearing quotes from the movie Juno. Shu Chin: “All babies want to get born”


#11

Actually, there was one group of High Schoolers across the street from us before the start of the march doing the same. Then as the march began, I could see that no one walking by seemed to be saying much of anything. Mind you, we were at the front of the march, which may have had more reserved people in the lead. Perhaps as the march progressed with us in it, people behind us whom we could not see/hear were doing the same. Afterall, there were about 250,000 and I can’t say I observed all of them.

As for the festive atmosphere of the march, I personally don’t think that the nature of the cause is one which warrents festivity. I myself can not be festive thinking of the millions of aborted babies who have met their fate due to Roe Vs. Wade. Certainly we don’t want people moping about angrily by any means, but I think “Oh wow, this is like a carnival!” is definately not good either. Reserved enthusiasm for Life seems appropriate, and I reckon that if the cheering is geared more to the subject at hand, it wouldn’t be so bad. One of our VPs went with us, and he actually had a very nice and appropriate cheer in which we basically just shouted “L-I-F-E!” For me, it is simply hard to be so up-beat when standing in front of a display showing aborted fetuses and the like.


#12

“xsuasox”… I really do applaud you for your mature outlook on this very serious subject. I agree with you, 100%. As I said before… “The March for Life” is not the place to be having a “Carnival Atmosphere”… complete with balloons, streamers and “rah-rah” cheers… etc. I DO feel that the religious banners of Our Lord, Our Lady, the saints, etc… and most of the “Pro-Life” signs were very appropriate. :thumbsup: Perhaps, people could have sung hymns… as well. And the Catholics… definitely should have been praying the Rosary… OUT LOUD. Adults could have carried lighted votive candles as well (as is done in Lourdes, Fatima… etc.).

It may be that you have coined a new phrase… “Reserved Enthusiam”. And there is a HUGE difference in this… and just plain, all out silliness. (Sorry, I’m still thinking about the commentator… I saw, who asked the young boy "So, you havin’ a GOOOOOD time? :juggle: "). I just couldn’t get over that. :nope:

I’m very encouraged to know that there are young people, such as yourself… on TOP of this. God bless you.


#13

I’ve gone with my church Youth Group three times now and we have always done a lot of cheering. I wasn’t there last year, but every year I have been we always say the rosary aloud at least once during the March and we are always very respectful (stop shouting) when we are near a group that is saying the rosary. We’ve also done some singing on each March (Choir Director is the group leader :P), nice Latin chants like a version of the Magnificat and Salvator Mundi and English Hymns like Immaculate Mary (+ Coventry Carol this year). In my experience I have seen most people either smile or look like they don’t care. Not just about our chanting, but about why they are there. I know, I don’t know what’s really in their hearts, but it’s how they look to me. I feel that chanting, singing, and praying are all excellent ways to remind people why we are Marching.

I know we’re talking specifically about the March for Life here, but some groups (including ours) make it a three day trip; drive one way, March, drive home. Our group leader has always tried to have us keep in mind the reason we are going to DC for the entire three days, we always have Mass, say a rosary and say the Divine Mercy chaplet every day along with other prayers thrown in. It’s an excellent way to prepare and then to just continue praying for the whole trip. It makes a big difference if you go with an attitude of wanting to have fun or an attitude of prayer. I think if you can keep in mind the reason you are there and offer all your actions for the glory of God and not your own glory AND be respectful of people praying while on the March, it’s a great thing to cheer. Personally, this year, I tried to consecrate my every act to God and be perfectly obedient for love of Him, so since our leader wanted us to sing and cheer the best we could, when we sang I sang the best I could and when we cheered I cheered the best I could. I don’t really like to scream/shout (wasn’t raised that way) but it was an amazing experience to give up my will like that for all the unborn.

^^ That seems like a lot to me… sorry, I babble when I have a lot to say about something that’s important to me. I’m working on my organizational skills. :smiley:


#14

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.