Guest column by Rev. Chris Snow
The history of our country is filled with protests — protests against oppression, demanding equal rights, seeking protection from greed, against war and destruction, for our environment, and the list goes on. These protests have arisen not simply as a second thought but rather out of a deep need to change the status quo. There is the hope that things will change for the better. My hope is that as the world is changed through protests they may help bring us closer to the kingdom of God that Jesus declared.
As I consider my own involvement in protests, it is often as an onlooker or silent participant as I am one who has often benefited from the status quo. I have to ask myself, what is the issue of justice at the heart of any given protest or action? Does the protest seek to create real and effective change around the issue, or is it an action that is more like clicking the like button on Facebook and thinking my work is done? Is the protest in keeping with my own religious values which call me to affirm the marginalized, care for those who are oppressed, and bring healing to the injured?
A protest should be a piece of a movement that brings hope and encouragement to those that have been harmed by the status quo. A protest should seek to create real and lasting change in the world. The act of protest should not be the only action, but rather a focusing point in time that encourages, empowers, equips, and sends the people out into the world to continue to create change.
But how far should a protest go? Over the past few years it seems to me that there have been an uptick in the number of protests taking place, and for good reason. Many of the protests that come to mind are focused on the desire to make an issue of injustice visible not only to their immediate community, but to the whole country and the world. As the world has changed over the years the style of protest has also changed and we must be willing to ask, how much is justified in overcoming injustice in the world?
“Effective and Ethical Protest” is the topic of the Feb. 4 SpokaneFāVS Coffee Talk, which will take place at 10 a.m. at Liberty Park United Methodist Church, 1426 E. 11th Ave. All are invited to participate in this community discussion. Snow is a panelist.