Today, something in me has to ask: As Americans, what are our intentions in regards to activism?
In other words, are we just flirting with the idea of helping others because it is popular, or are do we truly care? What will it take to move from a point of ignorance to awareness to action, and make it stick as a lifestyle?
Call me cynical (thank you, journalism,) but I have to ask if our enthusiasm to make a difference in the world comes from a real desire inside of us to help others, or a latent desire to be accepted. I mean, are we doing this because deep inside, we want to “fit in” and right now, saving the earth and saving the people of the earth is the trendy thing to do, or has something struck us so deeply, we can’t help but respond in love and action? I feel that some of us, if we were truly honest (myself included some days,) would have to confess that we really don’t care, and that worries us. That’s the fast track to getting kicked out of the cool club where Save the Earth T-shirts and Free Tibet stickers are de rigueur. But come on: Would some of us actually give a damn if people didn’t tell us to?
Activism has changed our lives through the centuries, from William Wilberforce lobbying for the end of the slave trade in England to Mother Theresa starting a quiet revolution by caring for the dying, but I think many people in the modern Western Hemisphere have had their hearts squashed under a selfish need to seek comfort. Ouch. (By the way, as I point my finger at you, there are three pointing back at me.) Change, or revolution as it were, is never comfortable. It hurts like hell. It causes us to give up everything we are and everything we have for the belief that the condition of the lives of others is more important than securing our own comfort.
I’m sure there were many days when Mother Theresa was hurting and uncomfortable. But her personal comfort mattered little to her in light of offering peace and rest to the dying around her that had suffered a mountain of hardship their entire lives. The center, the key to her happiness and joy, was serving God by serving the dying. (Mark 9:41 – I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.) It had become a “moral imperative,” which is a word I picked up from Andy Stanley’s book Visioneering. Stanley defines “moral imperative” as a vision that has become so ingrained through God’s direction and leading, that, if you do follow through, you feel as though you are disobeying God.
Changing the world becomes a moral imperative for the true revolutionary. It’s something that gets under your skin and digs into every nook and cranny to the point that not doing it feels alien, wrong. It comes out of love, which is the most powerful substance in the universe. Are we willing to be so wrecked? Will we allow the power of invading, eternal, poured out love saturate our lives to the point where our lives are no longer our own?