Protests are largely misunderstood. The stereotype is that a bunch of angry out of control people wielding rocks and spray paint are interrupting traffic for no good reason and they should just go home and ‘love their neighbor.’ Well, this is me…loving my neighbor.
There are many ways to protest, and any time you disagree with someone, you are protesting. We speak up when we believe something isn't right. It's what we are called to do not only as Christians, but as human beings.
The Gospel of John uses the image of the divine being a light to all people. Light does not shine on just a few; it touches everyone…it exposes everything. There are signs in John that suggest the message is a universal and inclusive one. John refers to the world and ‘all people’ several times when he is talking about to whom the light has come.(John 3:16, 17; 6:33,50; 12:47; 15:18; 1:4, 16; 12:32)
If we are to see the injustice in the world, a light has to expose it. That light is Jesus; that light is you and me. “Jesus said to them, ‘The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light’” (John 12:35-36).
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.” Martin Luther King, Jr
Proverbs 8:20 says, “I walk in the way of righteousness, along the paths of justice.” There is more here than insight and advice - there is movement. Movement in the form of advocacy happens when we raise our voice with the truth. Truth that has been exposed by the light.
Martin Luther in his explanation of the Eucharist: “Christ has given his body for this purpose, that the one thing signified by the sacrament – the fellowship, the change wrought by love – may be put into practice…The sacrament has no blessing and significance unless love grows daily and so changes a person that he is made one with the others…Thus by means of this sacrament, all self-seeking love is rooted out and gives place to that which seeks the common good of all.”
And then there is Moses. God calls Moses to go to the pharaoh and speak on the behalf of the enslaved Israelites. “So now I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3:10) As Moses was sent to the ruling body, sometimes grumbling, so too we are sent to our elected officials…often grumbling, to speak out against injustice and to seek the common good of all creation.
“The ultimate measure of a man (woman) is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. The true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige, and even his life for the welfare of others.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
These are the reasons I join in protest, in person and in pen, because nothing changes without discomfort. And we must insist on change. We just can't be quiet.
I invite you into the conversation and ask that responses be respectful, intelligent and well thought out. In return, I promise to hear what you have to say with an open heart and curious mind. Peace.