Peaceful protest is the cry! We need peaceful protest: protesters who shake hands with law enforcement in the midst of (what should be) an act of civil disobedience. Anything less, they tell us, is unAmerican.
Yet, I thought this was the Land of the Free? I thought the American Spirit was rooted in not allowing the government to tread on our inalienable right to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness?
How can we the people defend & champion Liberty when we are afraid of the government and her agents (i.e. the police)? As Thomas Jefferson said, “When the people fear government there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is Liberty.”
Peaceful protest is the devil…or at least a tool of the agent of bondage, which is opposed to Liberty.
This is an awkward thing to say in our current climate. And no, this is not a priest promoting violence. Here me out…
Recently, we’ve been subjected to an all out assault on Black lives in this Country. Of course, this has been an ever-present reality since abolition, yet this has become a more present reality with the advent of social media. Seemingly beginning with Trayvon Martin, we have a modern list of endless victims of violence by the majority (& the institutions built by the majority).
Most recently, we’ve experienced two police killings of Black men in 24 hours! And as has become custom: the media & political leaders urge & encourage “peaceful protest.” We are sold that the beauty of these protests are found in the visuals of “love & peace” in the midst of the protests: police marching with protestors, and protestors lining up to hug the police.
But peaceful protest is the devil
…or at least a tool of those who oppress the soul & prevent it from aspiring to the things of God!
“How can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” In other words, how can we sing songs of praise & peace, while living with injustice?
When our ancestors demanded from Caesar what was owed to his subjects, they refused to exchange on/compromise with the things of God. They demanded equal treatment under the law, as children of the Most High God. And peace for them, was peace with God…and peace with God depended upon ultimate peace with humanity.
Yet when peace with God was at odds with peace with humanity, peace with God was preferred. So, our ancestors were willing and committed to protesting the injustice of humanity in order to bring all of humanity into peace with God. It was a selfless act of love: hoping to be reconciled to the oppressor, by compelling the oppressor to be reconciled to God.
Nonviolent protest was the only way to do that: the only way to force those brothers and sisters possessed by the enemy to confront their sin that they might repent and embrace the Way. As a theologian, Martin Luther King, Jr. understood that reality…even when his lieutenants didn’t (& still don’t).
So, protest in the Civil Rights movement was explicitly designed to disturb the peace.
The goal of protest is to disturb the peace.
Anything less is a waste of time: peaceful protest is a waste of time. And that’s why you see violence. In the wake of the latest round of police killings, there’s been a violent response by some that has resulted in the killing of law enforcement officers. We have brought ourselves to the precipice of the abyss, the place where sin gets the best of us.
And there you see the equally soul-searching reality: for violence is not the way that brings us closer to the Kingdom of God…violence doesn’t reconcile us, so that we can reconcile to Him. It is undeniable proof that we have failed to yet achieve the ability to love God with all of our heart, mind, soul & strength…because we have failed to yet achieve the ability to even recognize our neighbors, much less love that neighbor as ourself.
If we want to make America safe (at all…for it has never been “safe”), we the people of Faith must find ways to bring forward strategies for nonviolent protest that will disrupt the peace and compel those with power to confront the realities of how that power is used. We must shake up their world view, so they might consider how they reconcile their use of power with He Who Is Power.
And in a Society that’s been blind for so many generations, this kind of awakening doesn’t happen without being startled. It’s like trying to awaken a loved one from a violent nightmare, who is a heavy sleeper!
So what would nonviolent protest be, in this current situation?
When the goal was integrating busses & lunch counters, the targets were clear and direct. We protested at those places which were not integrated. Should protest be any less direct?
But the problem (the glaring one at this moment of crisis) is the criminal justice system. What does nonviolent protest look like in this arena?
This is the question which must be answered if we are to find that thing which reconciles us…brings us together in this time of discord.
What is your answer?