What Are You Building?

Too often our politics is one of mere deconstruction. Our advocacy is less about building coalitions of support to advance human flourishing or to advocate for a vulnerable people group but is instead a kind of performative activism.  This is why often the fights we see play out in the public square are less between opposing ideas but between people who, on a political Venn diagram, actually agree with each other. Building something takes hard work and ingenuity and patience. But online purity tests, launched with memes and snark, are easy.

Today, our politics, our “speaking out” is not really advancing any ideas or meaningful change, but is a kind of narcissistic hero creation. We get up in the morning, look in the mirror, and see Martin Luther at the Diet of Worms or Dietrich Bonhoeffer in every interaction. This is why we justify canceling and meanness. We see ourselves as the righteous ones and those who even marginally disagree, as the evil hordes we are called by God to battle. We don’t actually want to get things done, we just want to be seen as a righteous prophet or hero. It’s performance art masquerading as action.

There is a better way to do activism. We live in a time requiring courage. Holding fast to Christian ethics and biblical orthodoxy will take spines of steel. But bravery isn’t measured in lazy dunks and self-righteous put-downs but in the patient and slow building of movements and institutions that can last.

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photo credit: Jeff Warren