Monday, January 25, 2010

Do You Want a Revolution??

Wait. Before you answer that, let's take as moment to pick apart this request, this petition that basically says that if turning everything in the world upside down and inside out is what it takes to bring peace and justice, let's do it. Years ago, I would have answered that question without hesitation. I was that down with the man, fight the power chick. For a long time, I didn't understand why, when we disagreed with what was going on with the world, we couldn't just put on some Marvin Gaye, or Sam Cooke bust out some windows, and light cars on fire. This is all coming from a girl who first saw the movie Malcolm X at eight years old. :-/I told a friend a few weeks ago that I didn't believe in rights, only REVOLUTIONS. It's only after some careful contemplation that I have a better understanding of what the status quo means and the consequence of countering it is. Any suggestion, implication of a revolution must be followed the following questions: Whose status quo are we trying to overturn?? What does a world post-revolution world look like? Is it safer, better, and more just for EVERYONE, and not just us as individuals?

While most of those answers are hard to come by, a healthy, thorough, diagnosis and prescription for a revolution, requires us to acknowledge a number of things that we just may not be ready to. First. we must realize that each one of us owns a piece of the status quo. I don't care how righteous and rebellious you are. We are ALL protected and supported by SOMETHING that makes someone else extremely uncomfortable. For example... If you are a white American, no matter how "down" you are with the other race, there must be an acknowledgment that many of the folks in leadership (people who make decisions) in our country, whether you agree with all of them or not, are white. Disrupting that structure with the premise of achieving equality, may have severe consequences for you. Black people (and other ethnic minorities)-yes, I had to make this a fair and balanced argument-should understand that ousting all of the "white" people from power, doesn't mean that the world will be an immediately better place. While we search for perfection in the opposite of reality, we really should strive for balance and equality.

On the topic of political revolutions...I hate to go here, but now that we have crossed the 1 year threshold on Barack Obama's presidency and I've had a chance to commemorate it and have all of the standard warm and fuzzy feelings, I feel the need to comment. It's been a loooooong year in politics, which seems like an odd thing to say considering that we've been talking about the same 3 issues all year. It seems like forever since we started this love affair with Barack (really-I have a bag with his face on it), jumped the broom and sailed on to our honeymoon on a cloud of democratic victory.If we, supporters and non supporters are honest with ourselves, we'll agree that we are not as far along on this continuum of CHANGE as we'd like to be. Some of us feel bamboozled, some of us got the chance to reinforce our political cynicism with YET ANOTHER example. Whatever the case, at some point, pre-November 4, 2008 we were in agreement that we needed a mass overhaul of the system.....a....uuum...*snaps fingers* What do you call that??...REVOLUTION. We voted for a man who we thought could get the job done. He was, essentially, the ELECTORAL MESSIAH. The one we had been waiting for. THAT ONE. It was only in hindsight that we realized that he had very tough political soil to plow and that he would have to pull Congress uphill in a wheelbarrow. Now, we've got REVOLUTION based on hard-fought consensus that no man, no matter how charismatic, can overcome. So we see the revolution take a detour from the oval office through the doors of Congress. Bummer.

And last, but certainly not least, the spiritual revolutions. My church recently entered a period of praying and fasting, accompanied by a curriculum called Fresh Encounter. The idea behind this particular fast and curricular devotion was inviting revival into our lives so that our nation would be changed radically and turn back to God, instead of pursuing all of these earthly rabbit trails (money, relationships, status) that all turn into dead ends. Over 21 days, the book talked about this idea of Revival and what that means to a nation. A revival is basically a personal revolution of sorts. The reading emphasized that personal revival requires a level of sacrifice, discipline and self-denial that we haven't seen in recent times. The circumstances that brought people to the point of revival for their nation also broke them spiritually and physically. Case in point, REVOLUTIONS are NOT self-indulgent movements with ME/MY IDEAS first mentalities. We often fail to realize this. They are much more about future generations.

A heartbreaking, while relevant example of a people in limbo, on the verge of REVOLUTION would be the recent earthquakes in Haiti. Typically characterized as a poor country, it has captured the world's attention for the time being. Soon enough there will be white kids in the burbs rockin t-shirts with phrases like SAVE HAITI. With thousands of people dead, thousands more wounded and orphaned, one has to wonder what the next generation will look like. What will it's values be? Will the flood of foreign humanitarian aid (minus the bottlenecks and red tape) change Haiti's world view?? And in the end, can we expect a social, political, and economic REVOLUTION?? Time will tell. And IF, just IF, Haiti makes a 180, to what do we credit the success? Mother nature? Foreign aid? Or to the possibility that a country, a people, can take destruction and despair and make the future bright and promising? That, to me, is the essence of a revolution.

The only REAL point of contention with REVOLUTIONS is that they are hard to sustain and quite costly. We often don't, before hand, calculate the cost. It's like starting a construction project in your house before you asses the cost of repair. You just start to demo walls. Just as it is with REVOLUTIONS, one must take take EVALUATE, FIRST. This is not to negate the need for immediate action, but we have to understand what we are getting ourselves in to. Price tags for revolutions are more than than the sum of angry citizens, it is the projected loss of life, freedom (s), and comfort; the number of hours spent in prayer; the slew of nurses needed to treat the wounded; and the scores of people willing to rebuild despite the odds. Oh! And suppose that the revolution doesn't yield the desired results,according to us? It's back into a cave of realism, regretting that we had ever tried to change the world in the first place.

These things are all, undoubtedly, very complicated. REVOLUTIONS are not respecters of persons. Sometimes we invite them, sometimes they just show up. Examine your life, examine our world. Before you say your prayers at night, and ask God for a REVOLUTION to come sweeping through your life, your family, your community, your careful what you ask more specific. Because some of you SAY you want a revolution and can't even handle a President who hasn't met all of your demands.

1 comment:

Channing said...

Jonae, I truly love reading your thoughts because they push me to always think of something bigger, way bigger, than myself. Taking a simple, but powerful word, REVOLUTION, and breaking it down in a personal, political, and spiritual sense is quite the task, and you accomplished it with great grace and intellectual prowess. I commend you girl! Still glad to call you my big sister!