When one looks back on the news footage of the late sixties, one is overwhelmed with protests and demonstrations. It is easy to see why the generation of that era believed they were taking the art and science of peaceful protests of all kinds to a new level. Passion, conviction, and a willingness to expose their hearts and souls to criticism were part of the process. Individuals believed they were the first to go to this extreme. Yet history tells a different story.
When I think of protest, I think of Gandhi. Here was a man who knew history. He understood the power that comes when one laid their bodies in front of to the wills of evil. The power witnessed did not and does not come from physical strength. The actions in and of themselves were relatively simple. The key lies in the mind and the transparency of how and what others did in response to extreme vulnerability. The result was incredibly powerful. People were touched in ways they did not expect. The impact was so powerful that it overcame any barrier individuals had constructed to prevent themselves from engaging, caring, and being compassionate. There was no defense for this kind of protest and witness.
Gandhi wasn’t the first, only a recent example. History is marked with people who took the right course; “Eliakim son of Hilkiah, the palace administrator, Shebna the secretary, and Joah son of Asaph, the court historian, tearing their clothes in defeat and despair, went back and reported what the Rabshekah had said to Hezekiah.” (Isaiah 36.22) They, like others, knew what was at stake. They stood their ground and went on to fight another day.
There are battles calling you and me to fight. The question isn’t one of issues. Injustice, pain, and exploitation show themselves during the course of every day. One cannot ignore what is around them; one merely can try to be immune. Our response can take several different paths. We can fight. We can expose evil for what it is. We can model love in action.
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