Protesting for a long time has always rested uneasy with me. It’s the same feeling I get when I think about gospel tracts. The feeling is pretty basic. It’s not rage or anger or even bitterness but just apathy. I don’t think it works so I don’t do it. This could be something that is unique to my generation, because we are saturated with messages all day long that one more doesn’t really give us much to jump for. If I handed any of my unchurched friends a tract they would laugh and tell me to fuck off. If I stood with picket signs in front of the school that hypnotists are evil, I would be ignored and they would still bring in the hypnotist in to present to the students of the school. Maybe it’s because its common now, protesting with words and signs isn’t what we want to see or hear so we shrug it off and make a smart remark about it.
I might be being a little judgmental with where I’m going with this but I wonder how many people protest out of a serious care for the people they are protesting too. I can’t help but think that loud statements, flashy presentations and (un)clever one-liners on signs might just be for themselves. I wonder how many protest just to hear their own voice or so the person next to them hears their voice. I wonder how many people hand out tracts just so someone who is already like them sees their efforts. I wonder how many people just pass along messages because it gives them somewhere to belong.
I think one of the key questions that needs to be asked before one makes a commitment to try to give a ‘medium to their message’ is do they actually want people to change? If they had the choice to flip a switch and have the entire world change to what they were passionate about, would they flick the switch? Or are they more caught up in the medium than they are in the message? Are they more caught up in being part of a minority with a great message than they are in the beauty of what they are trying to get across?
A person who has a message to tell that is important does not just yell, make signs and websites; instead they begin to embody their message. You are living a farce if you care more about how your message is getting across than the message itself. If one really cared about the message, they would use any medium necessary to get this message to the ends of the earth (unless of course it didn’t align with the message). With that said, I think with the culture the way it is now, there needs to be an understanding that people receive and understand messages differently now. They are constantly reacting and engaging with things that are changing the way they look at the world.
So sometimes, in some cultures standing on a street corner shouting repent would actually be a message that would pierce the hearts of their listeners (like second century Jews who are used to hearing similar language all through the Torah). Sometimes throwing $20, 000 of cash in small coins and bills on Wall Street is the best sign of getting a message across of dethroning capitalism. Maybe it’s simply inviting your neighbor over for a beer every once in a while. True messengers care about the message and who they can reach with it most effectively. The labels that we slab on those with a message don’t serve as a negative or a positive to them. They aren’t wrapped up in their label, or the image they’ve created for themselves while getting the message across. A true messenger simply lives with every action and speaks with every word the message that they embody.
When I went to see the Green Party Leader of Canada, Elizabeth May, speak here in Sarnia she said something that inspired me. She said that she hoped that other politicians would steal her message. She said she wasn’t about getting into office so she could make a name for herself. She wants her ideas to get stolen and used. She wasn’t about power or getting in a place of it, rather she was passionate about helping people see needs that needed to be addressed and she was completely fine about other people stealing her ideas because it was never about her having the idea but rather about the idea itself.