Beyond Anger and Activism
I have always been an activist. I have marched, chanted, demonstrated, picketed, canvassed, petitioned, fundraised, organized and spoken out about things that matter to me.
My family and my church taught me that being vocal about my beliefs was my patriotic duty, and my spiritual duty.
My friends told me it took courage to speak out against things that I don’t like.
My heroes are people who took a courageous stand, like Rosa Parks or Miep Gies.
Years ago, I worked for political organizations as a fundraiser and organizer. One respected organizational director often said that activism is fueled by a slow burning anger.
These days, there are lots of activists, and lots of anger. There is no doubt that activism plays a vital role in creating social change. I’m getting a little tired of the anger, though.
I think I am going to need to find a new way to fuel my desire for a more perfect society. Instead of fueling my vision with anger, I am going to fuel my vision with love.
What would it look like, I wonder, to be an activist for love?
From now on, every time I hear or see something that arouses my righteous activist anger, I am going to consciously send love to the source of my anger.
Instead of ridiculing those who thinking differently than I, I will keep them in my prayers.
Instead of staying away from those who fear and misunderstand me, I will make an effort to find some common ground.
When I see people behaving in ways of which I don’t approve, I will be an example of a different way to behave.
Instead of complaining about the problems in the world, I will use my energy to make a positive change in some small way, for somebody.
As an angry activist, I was often frustrated. I felt the work we were doing only held back the evil tide, and never conquered it.
There will always be angry activists, and that’s a good thing. Someone has to hold back that evil tide, whatever that tide may be at any given time.
But what if those of us who have become too tired, too busy, too cynical or too happy to be angry could find a new way to create change on the planet?
What if the way to do that was simply to follow that Biblical directive from the book of Matthew, “love your enemies?”
While there was plenty of reason to be angry, I am pretty sure it was love, and not anger, that caused Miep to risk her own life to try to say the lives of Anne Frank and her family.
What if anger can hold back the tide, but love is the power to conquer it?
It’s worth a try.