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What does it mean to be an activist?

By August 19, 2017 No Comments

I think for me, I’ve never seen activism done well. When I think of the word “activism” I think of angry screaming matches of people carrying picket signs and drawing lines in the sand saying your either with me or against me. Fights inevitably ensue and many times people are hurt. Worst case and most disturbing scenario is when people are killed.

To me, activism meant creating an imaginary fence and being forced to pick which side of the fence you will stand on. If you happen to pick the wrong fence, watch out…..you will most definitely be labeled an oppressor, an Uncle Tom, a hypocrite, an uncaring biased bigot.

Or anti-American, anti-women, anti-equal rights, anti-history, anti-democracy, anti-immigration, anti-BLM, anti-law enforcement, anti-breather of air. Ok, that last one I just made up.

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Or, there are times when others will peer pressure you, yes grown-ups still do that, to stand with them and other activists who stand for a fraction of a fraction of what you care about. As a Christian, this often means putting aside many of your convictions. If you chose to refrain, then the aforementioned scenario occurs.

Or what about those activists that only care about things online. They write out a couple of words every now and then, share a blog or two about the current social justice trend to either appease their own conscience or their social circle and then go about their day patting themselves on the back for being socially adept, aware, woke, while doing absolutely nothing to make any real change in their community or for their immediate neighbor.

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I want no part of either of those forms of activism.

An evangelical activist, from what I hear in the video below is someone who wants and seeks consistency in their Christianity. And when there isn’t, they call into question why there isn’t consistency and then not back down from pressing into the inconsistency, even when it gets hard and yucky and emotionally taxing.

I guess I unknowingly became an activist the day I felt courageous enough to ask a pastor’s wife why the church I was a member of was predominantly white when across the street sat a mostly black high school (in Virginia). That was 12 years ago and 1 year into being a saved person. No one taught me to see the inconsistency. It was glaringly obvious.

I’ve been asking those kinds of questions ever since.

In Texas I asked why churches were majority white when they existed in small to medium sized predominantly Mexican towns.

One church almost emotionally broke me. When I questioned the status quo, I actually got a response from a lady on staff who was in charge of the food pantry ministry at one of the churches I was serving in.

She said, quite confidently and with such matter-of-fact boldness:

“because we don’t want those people in our church”.

Her confidence must have blinded her to the reality that she was talking to “those people”.

One of these days, I will share that story.

Until then, I am thankful for this video!

Ariel Bovat

Author Ariel Bovat

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