Mother Theresa was once asked to attend an anti-war rally. She responded: “I will never attend an anti-war rally; but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.”
Jesus put it even more simply: “Overcome evil with good.”
It sounds simple, yet for some reason, we take the ‘anti’ approach over the ‘pro’ approach more often than we might care to admit. ‘Anti-war’ sounds like a good idea to me. Anti-violence, anti-racism, anti-division, anti-throwing-bricks-at-the-police… They all sound like progress. To some extent they maybe are. However, I think we need to look at it on a different level if we want lasting change.
Being ‘anti’ is easy.
Sure, I’m anti-war. Yeah, I’ll be anti-genocide. Anti-Apple Music? Definitely!
It’s easy. You’re in or you’re out and that’s about it. The reason we don’t sway towards being ‘pro’ something just as easily is because ‘pro’ requires action.
Martin Luther King’s most famous public appearance was his I have a dream speech. Why was it so effective? I believe the big reason is because it was rooted in ‘pros’.
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
He didn’t just point to the injustice or wallow in the shame. He pointed towards God’s original vision for his nation. He painted a beautiful picture that resonated with everyone listening. He stayed away from lofty words like hope and peace and got down onto ‘real life’ level and talked about the dinner table, little children and the hills of Georgia.
What am I saying?
This nation needs hope. The Church has to be the answer.
We need to move past pointing out the wrongs and point to the original vision; the Creator’s dream.
We need to catch hold of God’s vision for our country, our cities and neighbourhoods, as well as our individual roles in them. We need to be conversation spinners; moving away from the negatives and pointing towards solutions. Treating hopeless-chat like a swear word at the dinner table.
If we want to be leaders, we must be innovators. Leaders break the mould. Anyone can challenge the status quo; leaders break it and leave it lying in the dust of the past. They bring new solutions. New dreams. They bring hope through vision and most importantly, through doing.
So, go do.