Justice and the Value of Protest

Posted on September 28, 2017 in Justice

Stand for Something

People and organizations won’t change until the pain of the problem exceeds the cost of the cure.

I learned that maxim during my years serving clients in performance improvement and management consulting roles. It proved true in every engagement.

Nowadays, in addition to writing novels, I serve our community with my wife through a ministry dedicated to praying for people’s healing—body, soul, and spirit. Most of the people to whom we minister (70%+) seek help with emotional/spiritual issues. We rely on God to help discover the root cause of their issue, and in virtually every situation He reveals that the person needs to make choices and take actions to fully receive their healing.

All see the need to change, yet not all do. For the same reason—in their mind, the pain of the problem is still less than the cost of the cure.

Few would dispute that America is more divided today than at any time since the 1960s. The good thing about that is we know it. We see where and how deep the divisions are. Our society has not grown away from prejudice and injustice. We’ve not grown in our ability to listen to views that differ from our own. We’ve not grown in our ability to love one another.

Knowing the depth of the problem is the first step toward healing. A unique strength of our society is the right, and the will, to speak out against unrighteousness in all its forms. Silencing the voices of the oppressed or those who choose to stand up on their behalf doesn’t solve anything. If leaders or groups find certain forms of protest unacceptable or inappropriate, shouting it down won’t do anything to bring healing. Quite the opposite.

I can’t speak for anyone other than myself, but if I’m at all representative, I submit we don’t yet fully know the pain of the problem because we’re not willing to discover and own the root cause. I’ve done some self-examination the last few days against the definition of love found in 1 Corinthians 13.

Where I fall short the most: not being irritable or resentful…not bearing all things, believing all things, hoping all things. Chances are I’m not the only one who falls short in these ways of loving. Project that out over a population, and it begins to explain a lot of what we see at a societal level.

What’s my cure? I’ve yet to find a better answer than Dr. Henry Cloud’s exhortation at the end of his book Changes that Heal:

We were made to love, and the fully functioning person is one who takes his bonded, separate, forgiving adult self into a world and denies that self for the sake of others…this does not mean being without a person inside; it means having such a full one that it can be imparted to others.

I need to own my problem, turn from my me-first thinking and being, and love the way God calls me to love.

What’s the cost of my cure? For starters, it means losing all traces of “me first” in my heart.

Does the pain of my problem exceed that cost? Honestly, in some areas of my life, no. I need to own my problem, turn from my me-first thinking and being, and love the way God calls me to love.

In a democracy, bottom-up change is more powerful and longer lasting than top-down. If we listen to the heart cries underneath the voices of protest and take individual steps away from “me first” and toward what real love demands, they will add up to big and lasting improvement.

What do you think? Let’s have a dialogue.