Monday, July 11, 2016

Making A Difference vs Making Noise

In the past week our nation has yet again been rocked to the core in the wake of two police shootings of African American men followed by the shooting of 11 police officers, 5 of whom were killed, in Dallas.  As it so often seems lately, the divisions in America were again revealed as social media erupted with outrage and emotion over different aspects of these events.   I saw many people on all sides of these events make statements like "I can no longer be silent" or "unfriend me if you don't think like me" as talking heads of television demand change in America.

Anyone who has driven a car on the freeway and accidentally drifted too far off the side of the road knows in that moment it is very important to take corrective action.  But WHICH corrective action is important.  I'm drifting to the right side of the road and I need to go left so the MORE left I can go, the better, right?  But we all know if the driver does what just FEELS like the right thing to do, he or she might jerk the wheel in the opposite direction to "fix" the problem and in doing so flip their car over, causing an even worse situation than before.   The correct action, of course, is indeed to turn the wheel to the left but in a controlled and deliberate manner so as not to make the situation worse.

Social Media has allowed everyone with an Internet account in America to have a voice, and we've all been using that voice lately, mainly to fight with each other and fan the flames of dissension over where we stand on positions and topics.

As a result, in a time where America needs change, we are instead experiencing yelling.  Most of us will do nothing to actually contribute to a solution for Americas ill's but now, we have the power to feel better about doing nothing as we all have "a voice."  And that voice allows us the power to do nothing very loudly.  Sometimes the more energetic of us might participate in a protest.  Protests also make me feel good because they are a great way to burn off some nervous energy, plus, they can be exciting!  It's fun to gather with a bunch of people around a common theme and then demand that SOMEONE ELSE make the changes we think need to happen.  Let's be honest, protesting at its heart is a demand for SOMEONE ELSE to take action.

Now don't get me wrong, protesting has its place, Martin Luther King used protesting to make great gains in our country, but those protests were to enact changes that could be effected with a vote and a signature of a pen.  Tangible actions.  

But how do we protest away something like racism?   Racism along with all the other "ism's" that exist in our world are heart issues, and if protesting could change hearts then we should have peace on Earth by now.  Ask yourself, have you ever had your mind changed by someone protesting the opposite position to something you think or believe?  Just like over correcting on the freeway, protest and using that great "voice" of social media has the power to accomplish great things...they also can do great damage if used in correctly.

Some of the actions we take after tragic events are like scratching a mosquito bite....it feels good, but it doesn't really help the situation.   Sometimes before taking action it might be wise to pause for a moment and ask if the action I am taking is really going to help the situation, and if so, how?  If I shut down a freeway in Phoenix, will it really bring about justice in Baltimore?  And if it doesn't then what will it do?  Will it be positive?  Or might it do more damage to the over all cause? It does not escape me that by even writing this blog, I'm doing the exact thing I'm complaining about, and while it will probably make me feel a little better to have written it, I know in my heart that these typed words will make no real difference.  If I want to make a difference I must get back out there and continue to do rather than say.

We are an impatient people, we like to see things happen now!  I want my food fast, I like my results instant, but true change......heart change.......that's slow.  And to be honest...kinda boring....as those things need to take place in the mundane day to day activities of those who commit their lives to such change and often don't live long enough to see the fruits of their labor.  It does no good to "speak out" if it is not followed by action.  And a life committed to action has little need to speak out.  It instead is lived out.

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