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I Was Wrong About Protests, But I Think I Get It Now... At Least A Little Better

Brad

June 30, 2020

I imagine that protests won't stop any time soon. For one. our imperfections have lasted as long as time itself, but now that we can freely say things so quickly behind the screens it's just that much more plausible. I've felt really uneasy about these protests and I think in the end I'm wrong. A book by the name of James (Chapter 4) quotes Jesus saying that the problem in any argument, malice or frustration is well...your problem. Basically the point is fix yourself cause that's all you can do and leave the rest up to Him. I feel like that makes it clear that every protest is pointless, but beyond that why do protests feel so heavy, dirty and wrong? I don't think it's because something bad happened. I think it's more.

What's wrong is pride. Pride is all over us every single day and it's the sneakiest bastard I've ever met, so naturally it would make it's way into a protest pretty easy. Maybe you don't think that's bad? Well just imagine for a minute that it is and let's see where this takes us.

God opposes the prideful. So the creator of the universe is out to get you when you are prideful, because He knows what it leads to. He does it to save you from impending doom. Gah-lee dude! That puts a healthy fear in me. I try hard to remember that, especially as a designer where you're pretty much paid to have your opinions be "what's correct."

So in Bentonville we had a pretty gnarly rally where I personally was crazy mad, because the police had to put up with some crazy hate for something one cop did wrong across the country. That's definitely wrong. I felt like it was unnecessary. When I put my head down at night to sleep and hear sirens kick on I thank the Good Lord for those cops willing to take a very difficult job just to keep us safe. Around here, especially, they really do a fantastic job too.

Then people tried a second rally in an attempt to make up for how the first one got out of control. Our police were extremely humble and appologized for effectively doing their job. Even though the entire thing shouldn't have happened. None-the-less it seemed like it went better...but it still seemed wrong. I wrestled with it for a few weeks and quietly listened to al lot of people's opinions. You have to understand, I had friends that I respect a lot at these protests and that not only blew my mind, but made me wonder what I didn't understand.

It's like I said - the problem with the protests was pride and it was sneaky pride that, like always, flies under the radar and disguises itself under the mask of something good.

If the point of these protests was "I am the problem and I am sorry and I have made a mess out of humanity and need to be fixed by something bigger than me." then it would be a perfect rally.

Instead, everyone was demanding justice for something that happened to someone. They thought they could be justice. The thought was that justice might bring peace. (Justice is quite literally death for each and every one of us, but I'll get to that.) The protesters wanted others to change. Remember what Jesus said in James 4 about how to make change? I think Jesus' words suffice, but if that's not good enough for you, so did Michael Jackson (Man In The Mirror) and about 1,000 other people, but it's so much harder than it looks.

Let's check out a book called Romans now. Chapter two says this:

"You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things."

I think anyone can agree that this is true or at least wrestle with it deep inside, because we know somehow it is. A little footnote in my Bible said it like this:

"Whenever we feel ourselves feeling justifiably angry over someone else's sin, we should be careful. (Ok yeah making sense...) We need to speak out against sin, but we must do it in a spirit of humility. Often the sin we notice most in others is the one most rooted in us. If we look closely at ourselves (kill that pride) we may find we are committing the same sin in a more socially acceptable form."

Dude - guys - how freaking true is that though. I mean really. By the way "sin" is the final boss in Final Fantasy X. Hahaha! I kid. It's just an archery term for "missed the mark." It's not this scary, groggy, church word.

Granted it has serious implications. Because God is perfect, He therefore cannot be around sin, but he loves us like a perfect father so he spent thousands of years fixing that for us. So it's not to be taken lightly, but its also not the dark, mystical, made-up word for "bad stuff" you may have thought. I thought that may give a little more clarity for some of us.

When we decide to judge others we set a standard and trust me you DON'T want to be the standard because you will miss it every damn time. I literally wrote a note on my wall at work to remind of this, because it takes being reminded 20 times, every-single-day.

So what's wrong with protests? It's pride my friends. [Wow so simple yet so gut-wrenchingly hard to fix] Pride is something we value way to much these days. I think it started with the classic Dad looking down on his son and saying "I'm proud of you kid." (Probably your grandpas) That's not inherently bad, but then when a certain generation (people my age) grew up without that, we ended up finding other ways to fuel that need. Hello protests. "We just wanna be heard!" Am I right? Remember pride will actually and literally kill you so stay the hell away from it. Fight it every second of every day. The best way is to pray, cause we actually can't on our own. Jesus fought that battle and won so he could help us.

Ok cool, but Brad what did YOU do wrong in all this? Where did YOUR pride screw you over?

Well ironically someone I don't know posted something on the very thing I hate (Instargam) that made it clear to me I was wrong. (That's the sneaky pride I'm talking about!!!) They said that if you had a friend who's dad died and you responded with "oh well - yeah everyone's dad dies someday" ....well that's horrible! I didn't realize that the people on the Square, however distant they may be from the actual murder felt this way about what happened. By me questioning it and speaking about how it "didn't make sense" or "had nothing to do with Bentonville" it actually really hurt people! I felt like a totally dingus and that's when I knew I was wrong, but it's also when I gained peace about it all too. All the worry and fear melted when I realized my part in it and said "Jesus I'm so sorry - take that mess, cause I literally can't handle it for a another second."

By the way that's all He wants for you. It's not that complicated. He's like your dad saying "Dude stop being an idiot and let me handle this for you cause I've done it and things much harder!" (He's much nicer about it. I'll never be 100% grace and 100% truth like He is.)

It's ok to be hurt by the sin of others and in fact, it's healthy. How we responded wasn't so good.

I've been wanting to write this out so I can learn from it and so that's all this is. I hope that we learn to not put our trust in people, but it the One holding the universe together. His bigger picture is always bigger and always ends in joy. Peace does not comes from a protest, nor does justice. Based on everything I just said, when we ask for justice that could only be the death of us all, because we all have sinned (missed the mark) and fallen short of the Glory of God (perfection).

That's the truth friends. It's hella unpopular, because no one likes to hear it, but ain't that how truth always is?

(The answer is yes. That's exactly how it always is every single flippin' time.) Also isn't it also true that "what's popular" is usually wrong? (Also yes.)

(Except take your time with this stuff, cause it takes a lot of practice....a lot! I'll keep working on it too.)

- Brad

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