Purposely Provocative

Generally, my desire is to encourage, bolster or soothe people. This is not because I just want people to like me, but because my own troubles stem from an internal chaos of which I long to be free.

Being provoked to passionate feeling is not the opposite of what I’m looking for. In fact, if the provocation is well done and hits in a place I really care about, it will lead me to a greater sense of focus. It banishes chaos equally as well as comfort, although since my ability to change the world seems quite limited, the action that wants to flow out of the focused passion is often frustrated at the door of reality.

These thoughts started with some movies I’ve seen recently which purposely inspired strong feelings about what is wrong with the world. There are many people who prefer soothing because they dislike feeling helpless more than they can’t stand that others really are powerless to truly horrible situations. Slavery, war, violence, addiction. Most of us feel (when we are faced with the real facts on these issues) that there is really nothing we can do to help…

I’ve had the opportunity to talk to several “public servants” recently- people who work in public aid, mental and physical health people. Most of these people were rude to me. While one friend would suggest they might just be having a bad day, I can’t help but wonder if it’s time for them to have a bit of a holiday. Why are they working jobs like these if they are not compassionate to the pain and need of other people? Likely they see too many “needy” people abusing the help offered them? As for the specific interactions I’ve had with these “helpers,” I’m hoping my extreme and sincere gratitude made a difference for the next person they helped.
All kinds of people are in great need and some of them are not grateful or kind or good people. But they are still people and they still need. Maybe they will only know about showing kindness to others once you show it to them.

This is where we are, really. There are a few shining stars in the world, but they shine because they are willing to die. Often we know about them because they do die. People like that will provoke you to your face in regards to your inner ugliness because they see that if more people than themselves did something, they would not have to die and things would change. These are the prophets throughout history and today.

I usually have very little understanding of political situations or even social movements because I am not a modern thinker. I tend to think of the world and its problems so big picture that I don’t always know what the details right now should look like. How would I have acted in Northern Ireland during The Troubles? How would I have responded to slavery as a white woman in the late 1800’s? How do I respond now to the social wars that are taking place in the US and the violent injustices that are occurring in many other countries?

I do know that I stand with people like Martin Luther King Jr. and with Ghandi and (most especially with) Jesus. King challenges me even now, “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

I want to keep my ignorance of all the things going on because they are so heavy and they are everywhere. Pick an injustice, pick any injustice, but let it be for the love of your fellow human beings. Christians doing battle against women in leadership? or battle against the gifts of the Holy Spirit? Stop it. There are real ills occurring, real people being misused and many of those other hills are not worth dying upon.

What are you doing? What am I doing for that matter? How do I allow the brokenness in the world to not just stir me to feel (easy enough) but motivate me to act specifically and effectively? I will probably keep writing blog posts about God’s character and God’s love because I truly believe that this is an enormous piece of the real change I want to see. Knowing the character of our creator and knowing how he views all human beings goes a long way for all of us caught up in the ignorance for which King spoke.

Your life matters. Because it matters, so do the lives of all of the rest of the people. There are no humans living on this planet who hold lives that don’t matter. Not one migrant worker, murderer, African infant, ignorant hillbilly, pervert. Not one conservative, or gay, arrogant atheist, or obscenely rich person. There is not one person whose life doesn’t matter. All of the lives matter to God and when we pick and choose our little tribes (as natural and easy as that is) and stand against everyone “different” we follow the course of history in its centuries of unbroken disaster and pain.

I cannot change history and I probably won’t change more than one drop in an ocean of destruction, but God help me change that one drop. God help me get past my self and my little daily dilemmas to see how to make my tiny (yet irreplaceable) life count for more than just me.

Those of you out there provoking others and poking with bigger sticks than I own- don’t give up! And please don’t forget to form all your provocations from love.

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