Thursday, July 14, 2011

Of T-shirts and Lennon and growing up... begrudgingly

I bought a t-shirt at Urban the other day. This is hardly exceptional. I half live in the Urban clearance section. Perfectly weathered indie/hipster t's for nine dollars? Yes please. It's nothing all that special, it's essential the lyrics to the Beatles "Revolution"... they're screened on and slightly weathered. This is neither here nor there, but what I've been thinking a lot about lately is Lennon's idea that revolution is often necessary and valuable but destruction doesn't have to be a part of that revolution.

I really struggle with that idea. When I come across systems or communities or organizations that are flawed... well, let's be honest, that I don't agree with... i want to tear the system down. I want to mess up the community. I want to change the organization. Viva la revolucion. Let's tear the gilded towers down! Let the rubble be the standard of our accomplishment. But that really has nothing to do with what God actually wants me to do.

This whole idea of destroying things in the name of progress has more to do with the American Revolutionary ethos than anything close to what is actually pushed in the Bible. More often than not we are called to forgive, to turn the other cheek, to show mercy. Change comes from humility from displays of Christ like character from actually being willing to submit ourselves to frustrating systems. Now I'm not trying to make light of the need to fight for justice. There are systems that are in the world that must change; that must be fought against. But there's a lot of stuff that I don't need to destroy. If I'm frustrated with systems that directly affect me chances are good that there's not a lot of actual injustice going on. More likely there's a lot of frustration on my part. And there's probably more good to be done from living humbly and intentionally and honestly within those systems than there is in trying to fix them right away. Chances are also good that most of perceived frustration has more to do with my own weakness/shortcomings/flaws than with the community actually being messed up.

So yes, I want revolution but I don't want to gain it through destruction. I don't need conflict to create change. At least not with most of the situations that directly affect me. I have a luxury of living in a situation where the greatest flaws in systems, organizations, and community at best frustrate me but don't actually harm my life or livelihood in anyway. So maybe I just need to be more patient. Awesome. I'm so good at that.

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