Wednesday, December 21, 2011

TIME's Person of the Year: The Protester

TIME Magazine almost annually befuddles at least me, if no one else, with the choice for Person of the Year. This year, however, it would be hard to think of any better choice for TIME's Person of the Year: The Protester.

It is hardly hyperbole to say that every corner of the planet has seen protests this year. The Egyptians, the Syrians, the Greeks, the Russians, the Americans, and the other Americans.

While I agree with TIME, however, I don't agree with the Protester. I protest the excessive protesting going on worldwide. The irony of this is not entirely lost on me, but I don't share the psychology or philosophy of the protester. First, I strongly doubt that public protest (especially when violent) can achieve much that lasts*. Second, even if it can and does achieve something that lasts, I strongly doubt that it is the right approach.

Many protesters are up against powerful people or entities, of course, such as governments or huge corporations. But having been treated in a dehumanizing way does not give one the right to treat others in a dehumanizing way (hateful speech, caricature, etc.). Even if it is loving and civil protest (which happens, oh, never), it is certainly not Christian, and that is my biggest problem as a Christian. Public protest as we have seen is anything but a Matthew 5:44 response:
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.
Third, and as a counterpoint, I realize that my view could totally change if I became part of the oppressed. I am not in Egypt or Russia. I am in the USA, however, where we have both the Tea Partiers and Occupy Wall Streeters who claim to be oppressed and ignored, and I have very little sympathy with the complaints or methods of either group.

One final point: It is, of course, easier to sympathize with protesters whose cause we support. Those with whom we disagree are simply rabble rousers; those with whom we agree are of course the oppressed, hard-working, innocent folk. Hm.

*It is very important to distiniguish between the different meanings of protest. Actions and decisions could be interpreted as forms of protest that may be legitimate. Right now I am simply referring to the 2011 fad of, say, making makeshift signs and overrunning public property to give oneself a voice. I take issue with this, even when done in the most civil, law-abiding way.

No comments:

Post a Comment