ACTIVISM- WHERE, WHY, HOW?

GKeyesOne joy of my life is that there are truly more and more stories via news outlets in general, online news sources, other social media sites as well as movies being made that highlight issues of importance to the human experience.

And they often cause us to sit up, pray attention (that’s not a typo) and hopefully think hard and deeply about what we need to DO as opposed to just “think for 3 seconds and click on something else” or hit the remote to change channels.

There are specifically three caveats to activism I want to focus on- in a moment.

Overall I am truly thankful that what I’ll call “hippie interaction” which I was part of in the 60’s and 70’s -is back in full-force. Perhaps (one can hope!) with more passion and genuine concern for a more just and gracious world.

But I’m also not holding my breath.

Years of living, study of human history (local, regional, national and world histories) and personal experience tell a story that serves us well.

Consider Selma and civil rights marches, walks/runs to support returning vets, the homeless, human trafficking, cancer or other life-threatening diseases as examples of what wonderful activism can accomplish. It can bring at least a measure, sometimes a GREAT measure of forward progress and a better, more positive way of life. Some activism (say, 9/11 or the Boston bombing, Klan marches) do quite the opposite.

Why are not more people willing to live a more positive life of activism?

WHY WE DO NOT:

While young with few bills, lots of energy, great passion and often no spouse, kids or in some cases hardcore day-job to worry about one can be a super-activist. As any, most or even more such elements change the personal cost of involvement begins brings a cross plenty just find too much to bear.

Publicizing strong views and acting to back them up not only creates friends but enemies. Name any issue you like (including of course, politics or religion, etc.) and you can easily understand strong emotions, “our way of life” and people can become very mean indeed. Many prefer the relative safety of being anonymous, quiet fence-sitters, or plain silent.

This is why I have learned to tread a bit more lightly on those who do not seem to be willing to pay the price of engagement in positive activism re. a load of issues most people care deeply (as we should) about. It can be time-consuming, overwhelming, depressing and/or simply a burn-out factor that many cannot reconcile dealing with, certainly not very often, much less on a regular basis.

Does than mean we sit on our hands and do nothing in the face of deep need? I cannot. Hopefully most reading this cannot!

SOME OF WHY SOMETIMES, WE SHOULD NOT:

In Romans 10, verse 2 Paul (writing about another issue) says something that very much relates to activists like myself at times… but it took some years for me to recognize: “For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.”

I have often had a passion to set racism, the justice system, the prison/jail system, this or that church or denomination, this or that fill-in-the-blank X, Y, Z RIGHT… but had little or no actual verifiable knowledge and even less wisdom of the facts to the extent I could “fix” much of anything with regard to the issue.

In the U.S. (and of course, elsewhere even with more than two parties) political opponents on both sides of the aisle speak truth but also spout propaganda. As an Independent I can tell you there are extremes and at times raw nonsense coming from both. The Tea Party, Libertarians and the rest certainly produce their share as well. Are ALL these people “whack jobs” or “ignorant dolts” with regard to this, that or another issue? I’d say no, that would paint them all with a very wide brush. But oh how they scream near election time! How they often lie like the devil to move both their supporters (“give ’em red meat!”) to volunteer and rush to the polls!

This is so the norm that it contributes to one of several reasons a lot of folks refuse to vote at all. They don’t trust the people, system, process nor that their voice matters. So they sit on the couch and do nothing thinking that’s the best response.

I fully disagree. But at the same time KNOWLEDGE, not propaganda nor conjecture nor “the one with the most money, p.r. campaign, the most adverts on tv, radio and the web WINS”… Sadly, in part due to the lack of activism, such a candidate often does win. Arggggh!

Actual, verifiable knowledge of the issue/s, serious study and not knee-jerk reaction, patience over time and the willingness to be plain wrong in your judgment is all part of the process of learning. Further, we need not only knowledge, but wisdom. That is, what is best to DO with knowledge. This seems often in very short supply. It all takes a fair bit of time and “makes my head hurt” so activism that truly brings health and healing is often left wanting.

Some activism seems to display a great deal more heat than light. Some merely destroys and does not bring healing or positive change.

Anonymous sniping (American Sniper in another form) coupled with selfishness along with an unwillingness to face up to one’s own personal mess (there’s not a person on the planet without it) has also perverted, bent and in some cases sent people far from a righteous, positive activism. The “snake in the grass”, online troll (whew, just read any large news outlet’s responses from readers on most any political story) will cause you to wonder if anyone has a brain or really deals at a level of depth enough to get facts vs. fiction, reality over rhetoric and in particular- care, much less love people they disagree with.

It’s sad and at times maddening when you sense the all-too-common “YEAAAAAH… -NAIL- THE SUCKER!” attitude.

Hey, I feel exactly the same at times until I recall the apostles asking Jesus about the people who weren’t “with” them: “Lord, shall we ask God to rain down fire on them?” Jesus responded “You don’t know what Spirit you are of!”

Is it reality, truth, love and kindness or a slow-burn agitation, raw fear or win-at-all costs that move us to such a twisted response to those we disagree with or situations we think we must actively engage in?

Finally, if you spend any time with my lyrics, blogs/tweets, spoken messages or span of my lifetime you’ll likely agree that I’m far more guilty of activism than a passive/who cares/”whatever” life.

“Study to show yourself approved, a workman toward God, rightly dividing the Word of truth”. “Get knowledge”. “Get wisdom”. “…by no private interpretation”. The Bible is FULL of solid, right truths that speak to loving, positive involvement for justice. See Micah 6.8 please!

I’m well aware that to some Christians, nearly ALL churches who even use the term or terms like “social justice” are considered washed-out liberals (theologically and otherwise) and must be considered useless at best, evil at worst.

Read Matthew chapter 25 and try to argue such a point regarding the active love of God and neighbor!

The local election season is here in Chicago, is heating up around the U.S. and of course we will hear more extreme views, sound bites and view “in THIS corner” political pundit “boxing matches” up until and even after the presidential election.

God HELP us think deeply, pray harder and love with Your love as we consider the issues.

Thanks for stopping by this old hippie/activists blog 🙂 -Glenn

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