A rundown of all you need to know about protesting. Did the Women’s March on Washington accomplish anything? What do you do after the protests are over? We’ll delve into those topics and more as we look into the anatomy of a protest and also how people of faith should respond. We’ve also got What’s Good? What’s Bad? chronicling the interweb’s best and worst of the week. Join us as we skewer through life, culture, and spirituality in the face of a changing world.
Title: After Protest
Episode: # 137
Program: Snarky Faith Radio
Host: Stuart Delony
Download the After the Protests Transcript Here
Well, good afternoon, and welcome to another round of Snarky Faith Radio. I am your host, Stuart Delony. My, oh my. What a week we’ve had. We made it through the inauguration. Then, we had some protests, and then some more protests, and then, some more protests. We’ll get to all that a little bit later on the show when we break down the anatomy of a protest. First, we have your weekly, “What’s good // What’s bad.” Just a reminder, you can actually catch all the links from this over on our website at www.snarkyfaith.com. It’s a great place to be able to catch past podcasts. It’s a great place to be able to catch up on some of our writings and stuff that we put out there as well. A reminder that if you sign up over on our website to get our weekly emails, you can actually be a part of a live show that Dr. Ben and I will be doing in the near future.
Let’s get on to “What’s good // What’s bad.” Let’s start this off on a little bit of a lighter note. This is really a softball start to “What’s good // What’s bad.” Did you guys hear the news? McDonald’s. Huh? New stuff coming out. That’s right. They are going to be testing two new sizes of the Big Mac. If you don’t have diabetes, this a way you can fast track that, if you’re ever feeling left out in the process. No, what they’re going to be doing is they’re going to test out in different markets, the Mac Jr., so you’re going to have the smaller Big Mac. Then, you saw the regular Big Mac size. Then, they’re going to have the Grand Mac, which is more meat, more cholesterol, and more artery-clogging goodness. Yes, you’re going to have Mac Jr., regular, and Grand Mac, which is really the equivalent of the half ass, the full ass, and the big ass. You can get all of it stuffed directly into your ass. Thank you, McDonald’s. [sarcasm] Thank you for giving us these options because nobody was asking for them.
Next. Do any of you out there feel like you’re losing your mind with the alternative world that we’re living in right now? We’re in the bizarro world if you’re coming at this from a comic book standard, and we’re really just stuck in a place where you kind of feel like you’re losing your mind. Well, fear not because I’ve said many of times, I’m losing my marbles right now. Guess what? There was a truck carrying 38,000 pounds of marbles, and the truck lost its trailer in Indianapolis on Saturday. That’s right, 38,000 pounds of marbles spewing onto the highway. It’s a beautiful sight. You should check it out. It makes you feel, “Hey, if my day’s going bad, this guy’s day is a lot worse.” So, you’re right. You may be feeling like you’re losing your marbles because they’ve already been lost. At least, that’s the story I’m sticking to for our new alternative universe that we’re living in here.
Next. When I started off the show today, I made a little promise to myself, just on the inside. I just said, “Hey, we can do this. We can make it. We can, at least, make it, maybe, ten minutes or so into the show,” I told myself, “without talking about the inauguration.” I need to apologize to you, my dear listeners, and to myself for breaking that promise because, as I check my watch, we’re only about three minutes into the show. Yes, we’re going to talk about the inauguration. In the segment that we’re doing here, the “What’s good // What’s bad,” all of it was bad. If you listened to the speech, geez, did that get a bit dark? Geez, did that get a bit post-apocalyptic, and violent languagy, and whatever else you can think about? The Don delivered, and he was, pretty much, true to his message, true to sticking to his guns, and true to, hopefully, making America great again in his own image. It ends up feeling like sometimes you wish he was able to use a thesaurus. Oftentimes, I want to say, “I think the word great doesn’t mean what you think it means.” I think your definition of great is much different from my definition of great. Man, oh man, was that an awkward inauguration.
What I want to do for you in this is that I’m going to give you guys a few links to be able to go through to help you process through this inauguration through what just happened, and what just went down. The first of which is the British comedian, Jonathan Pie. Part of his shtick is he’s kind of a fake news castor. He posts videos online. He also does stand-up and stuff. Really intelligent. Really, really funny guy. He did an inauguration recap of the speech and of all really that went on there, that I’ll include the link here. Not here, but here on our website. He’s what I want to tell you. This is absolutely not a safe-for-work video for you to be able to watch. The language is quite salty. It says, pretty much, everything that I’d love to say, but can’t, due to the FCC regulations here on the air. If you can put on your big-boy pants, and go over to www.snarkyfaith.com, I think you would find that really interesting.
Also, there is an interview that CNN did with Zizek. Zizek is one of our favorite curious philosophers out there. I’m not saying I agree with everything, but I will tell you he’s an interesting dude. If you can listen—a lot of times, you have to listen to cut through his thick accent. Zizek is a Marxist, and he lays out why he would have voted for Trump. It’s not exactly why you think it is. I think it is a brilliant idea, and it’s also one of those—have you ever been in those situations where two people are talking, and one person is way, way more intelligent than the other one, and they keep trying to talk? They kind of end up talking past each other. Yes, the interview is interesting on two different levels from being able to watch a philosopher try to talk to a guy who’s just facts and numbers, and those two conversations don’t actually mesh at all.
I think it’s really interesting what Zizek has to say, and why he says it, and why he says he would stick with Trump in this. I’ll give you a little bit of a sneak peak to why. He sees electing Trump as a way for us to be able to reinvent the political system, a way to be able to reinvent the way we do politics, not because what Trump is doing is a good thing. Really, it’s because what he’s doing is a horrible thing. It should force us to really go back to the drawing board to change the way that we think about politics. It’s an interesting interview, and I think you’ll like it.
Now, if listening to a Slovenian philosopher isn’t your cup of tea, and you’re still looking for some escapism, what I’d recommend is checking out Aziz Ansari’s SNL’s opening monolog. It was about the inauguration. It was about race. It was about America, and it was very, very on point, and beautiful. I would recommend you going and check that out.
Lastly, before we move on from the entire inauguration talk, we have to talk about how the country’s going down the crapper. Right? Did you hear about the porta potties at the inauguration, the ones from the company called Don’s John? Get it? Don’s Johns. The Don and potties. Maybe it’s just me that likes potty humor. Yes, you had thousands and thousands of Don’s Johns porta potties lining everywhere around the inauguration. That would be funny in itself, besides the fact that, mysteriously during the week, they started to get taped up. That’s right. The signs, the advertising signs on the side of the porta potties, mysteriously started getting taped up. Does somebody have an ego problem? Anyone? Anyone in Washington have an ego problem? Come on. Can’t Trump take a joke, or is he always too busy being the punch line of a joke? Geez.
Moving on from that and hopping directly into the main topic of the day. I want to talk about protesting. This last weekend, we’ve seen it. People were out with the Million Woman March with crowds that made the inauguration look like a small dinner party for only our closest friends. With cities across the nation and across the world, you had people out protesting our new president. It’s a beautiful sign of solidarity for people that are all about that cause, but my bigger question is what happens on Monday? What happens on Tuesday? Sure, it’s great to get together, and protest, and come together to speak out against evil that is happening in the world. I think that is absolutely essential. What I wanted to do is spend some time asking questions about the nature of protesting. What does it accomplish? What does it actually do? What should we look forward to for the next four years in regards to protesting, and advocacy, and social justice, and all of those things? I want to hop into.
We’re going to be going through several different articles, for the remainder of our show, talking about the very nature of protesting. It was Henry David Thoreau who said, “Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.” We find ourselves in a time in history when a lot of stuff is messed up because that has never happened before in all of history. I’m kidding, but we find ourselves at this place where we see injustice everywhere. I’m not just talking about the fact that the Patriots made it back into the Super Bowl. I’m not talking about that kind of injustice. No, I’m talking about racism. I’m talking about misogyny. I’m talking about xenophobia. I’m talking about homophobia. I’m talking about Islamophobia. I’m talking about ignorance, and bigotry, and hatred. Those are things that we are raging against right now. Those are the things that are staring us in the face, immediately, right now.
I know the president is barely even in office yet, but I will tell you, collectively, we the people are very worried. We the people are very scared. We the people do not know what is going to happen. That unknown and that mystery that we are living in—mystery sounds way sexier—that uncertainty that we’re living in right now is terrifying. It may not be terrifying to you, particularly, but maybe, it’s terrifying to your neighbor or one of your loved ones. When we begin to talk about the injustice that’s happening around us, the natural response that we’ve seen is to get out and protest.
Before you grab your poster board and markers and decide to head out to a rally somewhere, we have to, first, start off by looking inside ourselves. What I mean by that is simply this, you, most probably, did not vote for Trump. I’m making that assumption if you’re listening to the show that you probably didn’t vote for Trump. I didn’t. I didn’t vote for Hilary either. We have to begin to ask ourselves, how did we create this situation? What role have we had in creating a situation where you have a person like Trump that scares the bejesus out of half the population in our country? How did we allow something like this to happen? Now, I’m asking this question, not asking it in the realm of politics because yes, you can say, “Of course, Stuart, people ran for office.” Well, yes, I know that’s how people run for office. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m not talking about those kinds of simple, finite, little brass tacks to how did he get here, or how did he win. I’m not even talking about that. What I am talking about is how did we get to a place in our country where things like this are happening, where messages, like Trump’s, make sense to people?
I think it’s far too easy for us to point fingers at folks that don’t vote like us. When we do that, we start to become the bigoted ones as well. We start to become the thing that we hate about the other side. The last thing that we want to do is become the things that we hate. I read this somewhere a while back, and I’m not really exactly sure where it came from. I jotted it down on one of my journals. It goes like this. It says, “Passivists become militants. Freedom fighters become tyrants. Blessings become curses. Help becomes hindrance, and more becomes less.” I mean, it’s easy for that to happen. We see peaceful protests that turn violent. We see looting going on. None of these, none of these are the hallmarks of what we are trying to protest. Those are even the bigger-scale issues. The ones I’m even more concerned with, the ones I care about deeply, are what happens inside our hearts as we are going through the motions? What happens inside our hearts as we are reading news articles and watching our social media feeds happen? What happens in our hearts when we take the anger of many other bigoted people and we turn it into an anger that’s inside of us? I know we can say that it’s righteous anger. I know we can say that we do it righteously, but anger is anger. If our desire is for a world that is loving, that is kind, that is considerate, that gives voice to the voiceless, that gives dignity to those that have no dignity, we have to be very careful.
It really goes back to the idea that somehow that we can have just wars, that somehow violence plus violence will equal peace. I’m really worried about us in this time that this anger that we have that is brewing below the surface, this anger at the other, becomes something that starts to own us. We just have to be careful as we protest that we don’t become like those that we’re protesting against. It’s not simply about those who have power. We’ve seen this in the country. We will have the Republican’s who will be—they’ll control power for a while. Then, it will flip-flop. The Democrat’s will control power for a while. All that is, is that we are caught in this nice little linear back and forth power structure. Now, if we are really about creating a world that we want our kids to grow up in, if we’re really about doing the hard work that it takes to create a new ethic for living, one that has kindness, and grace, and joy, and patience, if we are about those things, we have to begin to go about these things in a different way.
Now, all of that to be said, I simply am just mentioning this as a primer for our discussions about protesting. I am not saying that protesting is wrong. I am not saying any of the things that are going on right now are necessarily good or bad. They just are. What I am saying is that in the midst of all this, in the midst of this bizarro world that we find ourselves in, in the midst of this time where we have three different options when we want a Big Mac, we need to make sure that we are guarding our hearts (and our cholesterol), for that matter. I just don’t want us to become an angry, divided country because we’ve seen this. We’ve seen how the Alt-right moves. It becomes uglier, and it becomes nastier, and it becomes hateful. I would hate to see this opposition that is going on right now become angry and hateful. Anger and hate are really what’s occupying the White House right now.
We see this time and time again when you begin to read through scripture. Looking at the Old Testament, there’s this repeating pattern where you have the Children of Israel. They will really turn from the ways of God. Then, what you see is a foreign invader comes in, takes them over, treats them poorly. The Children of Israel cry out to God. God delivers them. They get in power, and then they start treating those that they are in power over poorly. Then, eventually, they fall our of power. You just see this rhythm. I just want us to begin—before we, actually, begin to hop in to talk further about protesting, I just want us to be very, very careful for how we move forward, for how we protest, for why we protest, and how it should transform us when we stand in those places to call out the things that are wrong with the world today.
Speaking at this through the lens of faith, this isn’t really an issue of should Christians protest. I think it should be more one of when should Christians protest. I found this. I’m not saying I agree completely with this, but Canon John of the Philo Trust, came up with these six suggested principles for protesting. I think he has some really good points in this, and I’ll read through these. The first one says, “We should protest on behalf of others rather than ourselves. Our duty to love our neighbors may involve us in protesting for them.” I think that’s a huge thing right there to start us off. I think that the protest doesn’t necessarily need to be about me. Like, “My side lost. I’m upset. I’m mad. I don’t like what’s happening.” I think when we stand out to protest, if we’re doing this through the lens of our own faith, I think and I believe, that this needs to be about somebody else. When we look at the protesting that’s going on today, I do think, I think a lot of these are us standing in the gap for people that need a voice, for people that need to know that they’re not forgotten, for people to need to know that they’re not going to simply just get kicked out of this country like they’re worthless garbage. Yes, I do believe that we need to stand in the gap for those that do not have a voice.
This next one on the list, I think, is rather curious and interesting. I want to unpack it some. Number two on the list was, “All other means of influencing the government powers should have been exhausting. Protests should always be the last resort.” Now, what I found interesting—and this is going to be my own little aside, which I guess, this entire show is an aside for my opinion. One of the things that I found as I was being flooded through social media, as I was being flooded through Twitter, and Instagram, and Facebook, and through the news was all the celebrities that were out there getting their pictures taken, getting selfies, while they’re out protesting. Part of me feels like—this is the jerk part of me that may or may not be 50 percent of me. The jerk part of me wants to say, “Really. Are you out there doing anything that is really costing yourself anything? Are you out there doing something to forward your own image or your own brand?” Being able to circle back to number one on this list, are we doing this for others rather than ourselves? I’m really just mainly just speaking in that realm of celebrity. I think celebrities get out there to do this because it’s the popular thing to do right now, and it’s good press for them.
When we’re engaging, especially in the second point here, this idea of have all other means been exhausted. Now, I’m going to take what he’s saying and twist it into a different angle. You see, we have these huge marches going on. We have these huge shows of protests that are happening. While that is good, it’s only the start. I firmly believe that after all the heat of this, after all of the excitement of all of this dies down, what happens next? Usually, if you’re going to follow the American system of doing things, what we simply do is that we put up our protest signs, we hang up our jackets. Then, we go home and sit on our hands for another four years. You see, that’s the problem. We get excited when it’s time to vote. We get mad when the vote doesn’t go our way. We get mad when those in elected office do things that we feel are immoral and hurt other people. What we need to do is let these moments be the beginning point for momentum to cause good and lasting change in our country. You can’t simply go out and protest, and show pictures of this on your social media, go home and sit on your hands, and wait for the next time you have to cast your vote during an election period.
See, the work that needs to be done, the important work, the lasting work, is what starts on the Monday after the protest. What are we doing now? How are we stopping these atrocities from moving forward? If there are unjust things that are going on, are you involving yourselves in community groups? Are you involving yourselves in nonprofit organizations? Are you involving yourselves in areas where we can get real change happening? We have to consistently come back to that. We have to continue to remind ourselves, while these things are good, they are only the starting point.
Number three that he has on his list, The Six Principles for Protesting, number three is, “We must be assured that our protests do more good than harm.” I think this is a question that, oftentimes, we don’t ask ourselves. Are these protests doing more good than harm? Are these protests merely about pointing fingers and calling people names, or are they, actually, doing real lasting good? I don’t have an answer for that especially for this Million Woman March that went on. I don’t have a judgment call on that, but I think this is a question that we have to consistently ask ourselves. Is this the best use of my time to make positive change? If it is, go and do that. But, but, but, but I think we have to make sure that these protests are also doing no harm.
I know during the inauguration, I know there were folks protesting in D.C., and violence broke out, and there was vandalism, and there was all sorts of other stuff going on. We have to remember that when those things happen—and I understand it comes from this deep unrest, this feeling that you are powerless, and you want to be able to inflict that feeling of powerlessness back on to the problem. The problem that happens when we see violence occur in these situations is that it ends up negating the reason for why the protests began in the first place. See, we have to be able to say this. If the police are going to be violent, the police can be violent, but we will not do that.
Number four on the list was, “There must be a clearly defined and widely understood aim for the protest. Without a firm goal, it’s all too easy for protests to denigrate into heated expressions of anger and dislike.” Now, I’m not saying that is what was happening over this past weekend. I think that was happening for some people over this last weekend. I’m going to, again, continue to point out celebrities that were up there, that were really just calling out Trump, calling him names and everything else. Hey, we’ve spent plenty of time doing that on the show, so I’m not saying, “Hey, check our the speck in your eye,” while there’s a log in my own eye. I know that. I think what needs to happen—because if can look back over this, if we all remember the Occupy Wall street Movement, it brought a lot of information and spotlighted a problem that was going on. Ultimately, at the end of the day, once the protests stopped, in many ways, the entire desire to change stopped. The momentum of the movement met with a grinding halt within that. If we’re doing something just because that we’re angry or that we dislike something, and our whole goal in all of this is simply just tearing whatever “it” is down, that’s not actually painting a way, that’s not actually painting vision to where you want to move dial towards.
I’ll give you an example. This is years ago. I was working for a church plant. I was doing a lot of the marketing and advertising, and video work for them. In the process of really starting up that church plant, the whole goal was we need to be something that’s different. Again, this is 20 years ago. I was in a place where I’d grown up Southern Baptist and was pretty anti-ridged Baptistness in all of its way, shapes, and forms. The pastor I was working with on creating this, we created this narrative, within all the advertising, that we’re different. This is before—I know every church now is, “Oh, we’re different.” We’re painting all these reasons for why this was, through video and other mediums. We’re not this. We’re not this. We’re not this. There was all this list of things that we weren’t. We attracted people. We attracted people to come and be a part of this. The problem was we spent so much time saying what we weren’t; we didn’t spend enough time saying what we were. Because it’s easy to rage against the problems. It’s hard to find solutions and chart a new course.
Ultimately, what happened with that, which I believe was the undoing of that church plant that lived for about two years, the undoing of that was you rallied people around a negative. You didn’t point them towards a positive. You have a bunch of people that come together that are like, “Yeah. I don’t like this, that, and the other.” Other people are like, “Well, I don’t like this, that, and the other.” They were all in agreement for what they didn’t like, but they weren’t together for a common cause. That was one of our failings in the message that we were pushing out for this. You unite people that don’t like things, but the only way to move them forward is under a collective idea, is under a collective vision for where this going. As we go out and have these marches, as we go out and have these rallies, really all we’ve done so far in this is to begin to say, “We don’t like Donald Trump. We don’t like his policy. We don’t like where this is going.”
Now, again, if you’re going to sit and whiteboard this whole thing, so how do we find a solution to this problem? Well, we don’t like this guy. We don’t like what he’s doing. We don’t like the people he’s surrounding himself with, and we don’t like the implications of where this is could go because it’s going to hurt other people. Great. That’s your starting point. That’s your, why are we here. The next step (and I think this is the key to all of this), the next step isn’t simply, “Ah, we’re mad. We want someone else to be our elected leader. This is a corrupt system.” No, again, you have to begin to more towards where do you want to go. Okay.
I mentioned earlier we have issues of misogyny and bigotry. We have issues of xenophobia and homophobia. We have all of these things that we’re saying, “All of these things are bad.” Nobody’s arguing with them. Well, some people maybe. I’m not arguing with that. What I am arguing with that fact is, where do you want this to go? If you don’t like these things, are we putting all of our hope into one basket? Meaning, all of our hope gets surrounded in the office of the presidency or elected officials. We expect them to do the right thing because that’s always worked because politicians usually do the right thing. [sarcasm] If we have this energy and you have this sense of injustice that’s going on, how do you rope this together to do something positive in your own communities, and make sure people are not being hurt, or marginalized, or pushed to the wayside. You see, I think those are the constructive questions that we have to begin to ask ourselves.
It’s easy to mad about something. It’s hard to make a change about that something that you’re mad about. I will say this again. The change that we are looking for in America today is not going to happen by an elected official. It’s going to happen when we begin to collect these people that have this common angst together, and push them in a direction where they can have a common vision for a new way to live, a common vision for the future. Then, you begin to lay forward tangible steps for how to get there. Much like that—what is his name again?—much like Cannon John is saying here in this is, “There must be clearly defined and wildly understood aim for this protest.” See, I think ultimately, we want to know what is the endgame for this. Is the endgame a huge temper tantrum that says, “Nah. I don’t like Donald Trump.” Well, that’s easy. That’s like saying, “I don’t like the smell of poo.” You can get tons of people together to say they don’t like the smell of poo. Are you going to move into a new direction? Are you going to change your diets? [Laughter] I mean, what are you going to do? It’s something that doesn’t move towards change.
One thing that we can see that Bernie Sanders did right was that he actually laid out clear things. I want to do this. I want to do this. He rallied people around this, not simply just in a Washington-go-out-and-vote type of a way, but also in how do we create grassroots change on the local levels. I think he had that right. If we have all this energy, if we have all of this angst that we can turn into energy, what are we going to do next? I think that is the question that we need to all be wrestling with right now. I think that is more important than us being upset that we have an orange guy in the White House.
Alright. Number five on this list: “The limits of protests must be set beforehand.” He’s doing this from the realm of how do people of faith protest. He says, “Christians can have nothing to do with words of hatred or even worse, acts of violence.” I know we said this a little bit earlier too, but I think that when we begin—I think this is even more so. I was going to say when our actions and our speech, in certain ways, sound like those that we are rallying against, we know we’ve gone wrong. I think this even goes back to a tone when we talk about these things, not even simply in protest. When we talk about these things in and amongst our own networks of people, or if we’re dialoguing with other people who may believe differently than us, I think tone is a huge thing. Because if our tone is angry, if our tone is hateful, if our tone is nasty in the midst of this, I just feel like those are still the seeds for becoming exactly what we hate. I think we have to be very careful. I think we have to be very cautious about the language that we use and the mediums that we use to express our angst.
Number six on this list was, “Any protests must have a reasonable chance of being successful.” He goes on to say, “That if turnout counts, if there’s more press than protesters, those against whom we are protesting are likely to be comforted rather than be challenged.” I think we have to begin to ask ourselves, what is success? I was mentioning before, what is our point? What is our end goal? Also, I think we need to begin to ask ourselves, how do we gauge success? How do we begin to say, “We’re making progress”? How do we begin to say, “This is what change looks like”? I think a lot of these things need to be wrestled through. They need to be wrestled through before we protest. I think they need to be wrestled through after we protest because it’s one thing to collectively get together and yell, and scream, and vent our anger. It’s another thing for us to sit down across the table with other people and begin to wrestle this out. Also, begin to dream about what could be. You see, what we’re moving towards, is more important than what we’re raging against. We have to remember that. We have to remember that what we’re moving towards is more important than what we’re raging against.
To put this in different terms, I want to quote from an article in the Atlantic from Mosies Neiem, where he is talking about why street protests don’t work, ultimately. The point he’s really trying to get at is the point that I’ve been trying to get at the entire hour is that without a plan, these are all a bunch of energy and action without any activism. He puts it this way. He says:
Social media can both facilitate and undermine the formation of more effective political parties. We’re familiar of the power of social media to identify, recruit, mobilize, and coordinate supporters, as well as to fundraise, but we also know that clicktavism and slacktavism undermine real political work by creating a feel-good illusion that clicking “Like” on Facebook page or tweeting a message from the comfort of one’s computer or smartphone, is the equivalent to activism that affects change. What we’ve witnessed in recent years is the popularization of street marches without a plan for what happens next, and how to keep protestors engaged and integrated in the political process. It’s just the latest manifestation of the dangerous illusion that it is possible to have Democracy without political parties, and that street protests based more on social media than sustained political organizing is the way to change society.
So, I want to move towards what’s next. This is back me. [Laughter] This is not the quote anymore. I want to move towards what to do the Monday after protests. Well, I’ll begin by circling back to Henry David Thoreau that I mentioned earlier in the show. In his works, Civil Disobedience and Other Essays, he says this,
If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go. Let it go. Perchance, it will wear smooth. Certainly, the machine will wear out, but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong with which I condemn.
Do we have injustice? Yes. Are there problems? Yes. What now? What do we do with it? We’ve seen this happen before where you get a ton of energy out for movements like Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter. The peculiar problem that we stand at right now after these protests comes with the fact that there is not one unifying cause that is uniting all of the people that are protesting besides the fact that they don’t like Trump and what he stands for. In the past, we’ve had the Vietnam War, we’ve had civil rights, we’ve had government bailouts, we’ve had other problems that had a cohesive structure to them. This is the problem we have. This is what we’re trying to fix. If you look at all the signs and all the protesters that we had over the weekend, there are a myriad of different groups being displayed here. That spells trouble for being able to organize. Are we about reproductive rights? Are we about the environment? Are we about immigration and trying to figure out how to fix the problem that we have there? What are we about? Up until this point, all we can say is we’re just simply anti-Trump.
Now, if you go and read the Women’s March on Washington, if you look at their document that has the guiding vision and defining principles that would argue with what I’m actually trying to say here. They would say that this isn’t about Trump. This is about women’s rights. I’ll read you just the beginning of it just to give you a flavor or an idea of what it looks like. It says:
The Women’s March on Washington is a women-lead movement bringing together people of all genders, ages, races, cultures, political affiliations, and backgrounds in our nation’s capital on January 21, 2017, to affirm our shared humanity, and pronounce our bold message of resistance and self-determination recognizing that women have intersecting identities, and there are, therefore, impacted by a multitude of social justice and human rights issues. We have outlined a representative vision for a government that is based on the principles of liberty and justice for all. As Dr. King said, “We cannot walk alone.” As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. Liberations is bound in each other. The Women’s March on Washington includes leaders of organizations in communities that have been building the foundation for social progress for generations. We welcome vibrant collaborators and honor the legacy of movements before us, the suffragists, the abolitionists, the Civil Rights Movement, the Feminist Movement, the American Indian Movement, the Occupy Wall Street Movement, Marriage Equality, Black Lives Matter, and more by employing a decentralized, leaderful structure and focusing on ambitious, fundamental, and comprehensive agendas.
Now, what I get out of that is we all want a little bit of everything. Even if you did this—because they laid out this whole list of other movements that they’re echoing and championing, like the Civil Rights movements. There were specific objectives that they were going after. Occupy Wall Street, eh, kind of the specific they were going after. Marriage Equality, specific. Black Lives Matter, more or less specific. You see these specific movements, and now you end of up with the broad mosaic of folks from different backgrounds and different belief systems coming together under a common vague cause. This is funny because I would tell you that I’m an advocate of people coming together. I’m an advocate of diversity. I’m an advocate of different views coming to a table to be able to discuss what needs to be done. Let me just, first of all, say, I am all for this approach in the appropriate scenes, circles, and scenarios that you find yourself within. When you begin to do this, this ends of being this mixed hat of different agendas all coming together. The problem with that is, like we’ve said before already, it’s great for having a march. It is bad for having a movement. You can bring all these folks together that have vaguely similar desires, but in the end, if we were to all turn and get people together to begin to have a collective vision of where we want to move, I think that’s where it will begin to break down.
Again, I am not attacking in any way just the heart and the desires that they have in this, I’m just actually really attacking how effect and efficient is this for inciting real change. If you continue to go down through this guiding vision and definition of principles in this statement, they have stuff about we believe in women’s rights, we believe in human rights, gender justice, all economic justice, and these are all stuff, which is funny, these are all stuff that I agree with. I’m not going to be arguing any of these particular issues. We’d be like, “Mmm. No. I totally disagree with police brutality. I think we need more police brutality.” [sarcasm] No, I’m not saying that at all. What I am saying is, you are going to end up getting yourself involved with a mixed bag, with mixed trajectories, and mixed visions. That will not sustain you as you try to transition this into a movement that makes real and effective change.
Is it great to have a party? Is it great to have a rally with all these folks coming together? Absolutely. Can we all have a beer together? Certainly. Are their points and ideas valid in and amongst all this in this document? Absolutely. This isn’t simply coming out against this saying you’re wrong. What I’m trying to say is you are right if you want to have a march that gets millions of people out there. You’re wrong if you’re trying to pivot this into being something that has lasting change.
Let me say this. Here’s what you have to do. Something brought you to the table. There’s some cause that brought you here to be a part of a movement like this. Right? There’s going to be some cause that you have great passion for. Maybe it’s gender equality. Maybe it is ending police brutality. Maybe it is something about reproductive freedom in all those things. You’re going to have what you would say—it’s probably not the way you’d say it—you have a pet passion. You have this thing that when you hear about it, when people talk about it, you get very passionate about it. You go and read up on it because you care deeply about this fill-in-the-blank issue.
Here’s just my advice for what to do on Monday morning after the march. Take your issue. Is it gender justice? Is it LGBTQIA rights? Is it human rights? Is it equal pay rights? Is it climate change? Is it whatever? Whatever that thing is for you, my advice for you is this. Take that pet project and find somewhere in your local community that you can join others in making affective change. Find a place that you can go and invest your time and money in to make that change happen. If you care about climate change, get involved with an organization. If you care about workers’ rights, or minimum wage, or living wage, get involved with a group that will help to make change for that.
The problem is this. Actually, what I’m saying is, it’s almost like you get too much good all at once. Like, I like ice cream. I like pizza. I like beer, but I don’t like them all together. Does that make sense? If I was to pile them all together and try to taste it, it would probably be pretty awful. If I take a bite of this, if I take a bite of this, and I take a swig of this, I can enjoy them in their own rights. What I’m just trying to get at within this, whatever that you feel passionate about, whatever drove you out to the streets, whatever you were making and writing down on your sign before you marched, decide now to go invest locally in that.
Forget the politics of all of this because that will probably come from whatever organization that you’re working with. Again, we have to remember this. Politicians in Washington will not bring about the change that we care about. It’s a corrupt system of politicians that, ultimately, only care about two things: getting more power and staying in power. It’s a very self-fulfilling act that they do. Elect me, and I will do this for you. No, no, no. If we were honest about this, most politicians are saying, “Elect me so I can do bigger and greater things. Elect me so I can get wealthier. Elect me so I can make a name for myself.” After you leave the voting booth, little is really done. My advice for all of this is get involved, but get involved and stay focused. I feel like good intentions are great. They also say that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. If we end up running around just investing ourselves in minor areas and stretching ourselves way too thin, we’re never going to really impact any kind of movement and any kind of change in our country.
If you’re a person of faith, this stands for you as well. I’m not even talking about which side of the aisle that you would be on, whether it be right or whether it be left. If you believe in the right for babies to not be aborted, then go and invest yourself. I use this example all the time. Don’t go and invest yourself in a cheap way. Don’t go out and picket abortion clinics. Don’t go and do that. Go and try to invest in the lives of these young women that are finding themselves in a crisis scenario. Invest in their lives. The problem with this and the problem with simple and cheap advocacy is that it requires very little of us. If you are going to go invest, invest greatly in these areas. Invest in a way that costs something from you.
That’s why when they talk about slacktavism and simply just being able to push your thoughts, push your agendas over Facebook. For you to create a post or to share a post, it requires very, very little of you. Guess what? Everybody else who’s doing that requires very little of them. At the end of the day, we all know somewhere deep in the recesses of our minds, that posting and doing things in that manner, really don’t do anything. You kind of half-ass it. I’ll half-ass it. We all half-ass it, and then we get Donald Trump. I know I’m oversimplifying things. What I’m saying is, what your guiding principles are, what your guiding vision is for this country, regardless of where you stand on this (and I’m speaking outside of party lines), go and invest where you can make positive change.
Arguing with people that don’t believe like you is not positive change. Going out and picketing, and screaming at people, and shaming people, is not positive change. Positive change comes when you invest yourself deeply in a cause. Those causes should be something that, hopefully, move towards making things better for humanity collectively in your community, in your state, in your country, and around the world. If you’re a person of faith, your faith should guide you towards being a healing factor in this world, not a dividing factor. We have to ask ourselves, are our words and our actions, are they creating healing or are they creating greater division? It’s very easy to demonize Donald Trump. By no means am I sticking up for him. He is just a result of a system that is corrupt that we’re living within. I know he’ll paint himself as the outsider, but he’s an insider. He’s part of a corrupt system that will continue to work in its corrupt ways unless we choose to invest ourselves and our lives very deeply in the things that matter.
That’s all we’ve got for the show today. Thank you for listening. I really just appreciate it. If you have feedback, if you have ideas, if you want to call me out, feel free. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Just a reminder as we end this broadcast, you can always find us on podcast at www.snarkyfaith.com. Catch us on Twitter. Catch us on Facebook. We love to hear feedback. If you want to be a part of “What’s good // What’s bad,” send me links. Send me great stuff that we can rip on.
That’s all I’ve got this week. Thank you so much for joining us. I will catch you again next week.
Transcribed by Miriam Delony