Thursday, October 04, 2012

Shut up or Stand up! (Part 1).

Be Bold. Stand Firm. Speak out. Dispel injustice. 
Do it all with the grace, love, and power I have for you.

(To get the most out of this post, click the orange links for interactive media). 

Some time in the spring I was driving to Roosevelt Elementary School. This is a school near our Church's campus in which we will be serving this weekend. On this particular day I was teaching an acting group for fifth and sixth graders. As I was driving down the street, I noticed a crowd of pre-teen boys harassing an elderly woman. Yes, harassing. I did a double-take. Waving their hands in her face, "pretending" to kick her, and getting in her way with their puffed out chests so she couldn't move past them, caused this sweet grandma to shirk in fear. Was this really happening in broad daylight at 3pm in the afternoon? The woman was trying to shield herself from their taunts as she ducked from their teasing jabs and name calling. 

I had no time to plan. I parked my car in the middle of the street, (in front of the public library), swung my door open, and made a B-line to the situation shouting, "NO!" Terminator style I strutted to the crowd of boys yelling, "No! No way! Stop!" 

Then I went all Clint Eastwood on them and said, "Not in my city, you don't."

Honestly, I have no idea where this came from. I was as if I couldn't control it. It was as if I had quickly mutated into a member of the X-Men. 
(Do you see how my mind works? I've seen a few too many action/superhero movies but I want to be clear here. This is not my natural first response. This is a product of what God is doing within me. And it is humbling).

The woman walked passed me as I hovered over the boys.  
They were frozen as deers in headlights. 
I looked at each one, I could feel my heart pounding double time, and my ears were steaming like the cartoons. I recognized two of the boys from my acting class, and my heart broke. 

In a split second, I understood what Jesus might have felt to love the very people who hurt him. 
Then compassion flooded within.  I was mixed with grief, sadness, and frustration. I just looked at them and I knew God was about to speak through me. 

"You are better than this. She deserves better than this. That woman is some one's mom, some one's grandma. It's up to you, to us, to make this city a better place." 

Whoa, now I'm Martin Luther King, Jr.?

Heads down.
Eyes averted.

I looked around at each one. That's when I realized the woman was no where to be seen. I didn't even get a chance to see if she was OK. I didn't know her name or what happened to her.

"I don't want to shame you. I just want you to rise up, to be great. That woman deserved to be treated with respect. I love this city and our city deserves better."

Cue crickets. One minute. No one said a word.

That minute seemed like an hour. The oldest and tallest boy, the ring-leader, never made eye contact with me. He just looked away, the whole time.

I asked them all, "How do you feel right now?"

Then one brave little boy broke the silence. "Sorry."
Then another one chimed in. "Me, too."

The others were silent.

At that moment I wished I could have hugged all of them, but what would Clint Eastwood do?
(Just kidding, I didn't think like that, come on, I'm a WWJD bracelet kind of guy. No joke, is this commercial for real???).

I knew they weren't "bad" kids. They were just like sheep, who were were lost
They needed a shepherd. 

As I walked away, I felt amazing. 
But I knew, that this incident meant something bigger. It was part of a bigger story God was calling me in to. 

It was indicative to what is true on a daily basis in our world. People are harassed, and no one, including me, is dong anything about it.

This is post 1 of 2. Because this theme came back this week in a powerful way.

God has been giving me these words, (over and over).

Be Bold. Stand Firm. Speak out. Dispel injustice. Do it all with grace, love, and power  I have for you.

This week, I saw something happen. It was different than in the street, but similar because I had to choose action. I was either going to shut up and let an injustice take place, or I was going to stand up and speak out. I'll blog more about it next week. 

Until then, ponder this:

* Is there someone in your life who is being treated unfairly?
* Is someone treating YOU in a demeaning and hurtful way?
* Are YOU treating someone unfairly?
* Have you witnessed racism, inequality, sexism,  or any other injustice to defend?
* Is there a situation in which God is calling you to speak up and bring change?

As I posted last week, where do we need to be intentional and engaged with God and others for authentic conversations and go deep in real life issues? (Men? Join in the adventure).

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